Dining | Storm Watch: Could Yuki Arashi’s Asian tapas be the next big thing in Park City? 

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When Gene Kwon’s Latitude Restaurant Group recently imploded, Park City’s Kampai restaurant was one of the victims. Since it never was one of my favorite eateries, I can’t say I was too sad to see it go. In its place on Main Street, however—in the same space that also once was home to Peggy Whiting’s Ichiban Sushi—an exciting new restaurant has arisen called Yuki Arashi, which translated from Japanese means “snowstorm.” Says restaurateur Soo Chyung, “I was just going to call it Yuki,” until it occurred to him that he didn’t want people around town talking about “yucky sushi.” Well, Mr. Chyung needn’t worry: The food, atmosphere and service at Yuki Arashi are anything but yucky.

Although Chyung has been involved in restaurants before—Wok on Main and Burgie’s—his forte is primarily as a builder and realtor. A savvy businessman, Chyung is wise enough to surround himself with a talented restaurant team. At the head of the restaurant ensemble is longtime Park City sushi chef Matt Fischer, most recently of Blind Dog Sushi, who now serves as executive chef at Yuki Arashi. “Everything fell into place when I hired Matt,” Chyung says with almost fatherly pride. And, indeed, creating a sushi restaurant around a talent like Fischer is a lot like having Ichiro as the lead-off guy in your batting lineup.

Sitting at the beautifully designed sushi bar—the largest in Park City—Fischer says that he doesn’t really consider Yuki Arashi just another sushi restaurant; he prefers to call the food he serves “Asian tapas.” His menu is divided into “hot plates” (like Kobe beef tetaki, teriyaki duck, kim chee miso and yakisoba) and “cold plates” (which include sushi, sashimi and maki, along with items like ceviche, Kobe beef carpaccio, heirloom tomato salad and spicy tuna tartare). Rather than a typically horizontal approach to a sushi restaurant meal, where one begins with sushi and ultimately moves on to cooked dishes, Fischer likes the idea of customers enjoying his food tapas-style—a little bit of this and a little bit of that, in no particular order. It’s all about freedom.

Being more of a traditionalist, though, I advise starting out by sharing Yuki Arashi’s Kumamoto oyster snowdrift ($12) with someone special. It’s a selection of briny Japanese Kumamotos sprinkled with caviar and served on a “snowdrift” made of shaved ice with homemade relishes. So fresh and tasting of the sea itself, this is a terrific way to kick off a meal. From there you might move on to Chef Fischer’s spectacular sweet miso black cod ($12)—also known as Alaskan sablefish—which he marinates for three days before broiling and topping with homemade teriyaki sauce. The fish melts in the mouth with a lovely yin and yang of salty and sweet flavors.

Like Kampai and Ichiban before it, Yuki Arashi features a sushi bar in front and tatami seating in the rear. The restaurant has great feng shui, with a soothing combination of natural wood and earthy colors alongside modernist light fixtures and flat screen TV panels. It’s a very attractive restaurant indeed but also very inviting. The Yuki Arashi logo is a simple pattern of white dots on a black background, signifying snow.

Meanwhile, back at the sushi bar, I decided to try out Fischer’s Tombo sashimi ($16), which is a marvelous mélange of sliced Albacore tuna delicately flavored with truffle-ponzu vinaigrette and topped with Japanese wild parsley called mitsuba, crisp garlic “chips” and neon-colored tobiko. Then, reminding myself of the tapas motif, I shared an order of Yuki lamb “lollipops” ($16) with my honey. This is a clever presentation of grass-fed New Zealand lamb which is grilled and served bone-in; the bone serves as a handle for this delicious finger food. It’s just the thing to enjoy before indulging in Yuki Arashi’s most decadent offering: a toro tower ($32). Imagine a tian of finely minced fatty bluefin tuna (toro) blended with Chinese garlic and scallions, all topped with caviar and served with homemade tortilla chips. It seems appropriate that in addition to its French culinary meaning—a conical tower—tian also means “heaven” in Chinese. Fischer’s toro tian is heavenly.

Naturally, Yuki Arashi also serves wonderful sushi, sashimi and maki rolls, all made from scratch utilizing the freshest fish available. Even a mundane item like a California roll at Yuki Arashi is tarted up with the use of fresh snow crab; there’s no “krab” at Yuki. One of Matt Fischer’s signature maki-sushi rolls is the “millipede” ($16), which features spicy tuna tartare and tempura-fried shrimp rolled inside-out and encased in an avocado “skin,” topped off with eel sauce and tobiko. It tastes as pretty as it looks.

In addition to terrific food, Yuki Arashi also offers a nice selection of beer, wine and sake. A glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect partner for prosciutto-wrapped diver scallops ($16), which are pan-seared in truffle oil and served with ponzu butter and crispy fried scallion chips that Fischer calls “stackers.” Or, you might choose an Oregon Pinot Noir to accompany a crispy teriyaki duck breast with roasted confit of fingerling potatoes ($14). Since we’ve abandoned all linear dining conventions at Yuki Arashi, I choose to break with tradition and finish my meal with paper-thin slices of Kobe Wagyu beef carpaccio ($20), served simply with sea salt, ground Szechwan peppercorns, first press virgin olive oil, and Italian Areggiano cheese. And, because at Yuki, I can “have it my way,” I think I’ll sip Champagne with my Kobe carpaccio. At Yuki Arashi, Matt Fischer and Soo Chyung have created a perfect storm of flavor.

YUKI ARASHI, 586 Main St., Park City, 435-649-6293. Open daily 5-10 p.m.

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