The Naked Fish
Paso Robles, California
The Naked Fish is a fun, funky sushi restaurant in downtown Paso Robles. One of 2 locations owned by local entrepreneur Daniel Cardinale. I spoke to him recently when my family celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday there. Her first legal drink was a $5 sake bomb! Cardinale shared a bit about his desire the bring the experience of his South Lake Tahoe location to his hometown.
He grew up in Paso and wanted to create a space that honored the history and culture of the area. The restaurant is intimate, but feels roomy. The wood paneling on the east wall is repurposed from a local residence that was built in the 1840’s. Single panel mirrors from Paso Robles Glass bring about space in the intimate setting, opening it up and making the restaurant feel roomier than it actually is. The mirrors also create a reflection of the custom designed lighting in the center of the room. Looking up from the high top seating along the opposite wall, it’s like the entire ceiling is underwater in a bubbly sea of beautiful jelly fish which were hand create by local artist, Dale Evers. In warm weather, the patio is a great vantage point for checking out all the beautiful people exploring the lovely downtown.
Service here is friendly and prompt. I wasn’t surprised that Cardinale mentioned that The Naked Fish aims for consistency. We have dined here many times and the food is consistently good, the quality excellent. I would consider the sushi menu traditional with Hawaiian influences, such as the Maui Wowie roll. A futomaki roll filled with soft shell crab and topped with ahi and yuzu aioli. My daughter loves the Tsunami roll which is a spicy version of the former. I am a sushi purist and usually have sashimi or hand rolls. The chef made me a delicious spicy scallop hand roll with spicy mayo and toasted garlic chips. Everything was fresh and the cut roll slices fit in one bite (which is essential).
I already mentioned the $5 sake bomb, but as far as drinks go, they have something for everyone. For the spicy dishes, choose one of many draft beers or sweet nigori sakes. We had the Four Vines Naked “unoaked” chardonnay that paired well with our entire meal. The cocktail list consists of many classic drinks such as Margaritas, The Naked Mule and Lemon Drop. The cocktails are made with soju vodka, so they will have a bit less of a bite alcohol-wise. (Is that a word? Well, it is now). This is the perfect place for a celebration. Reservations are recommended.