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Rolling out Laid-Back Fare

In the Raw offers an upbeat and progressive vibe, along with steak, wraps, rice bowls, and ramen as well as some truly creative sushi flavor combinations in roll form.

Article
Donna Leahey
Photos
Sarah Eliza Roberts
Posted
November 28, 2018

In the Raw isn’t your usual sushi place. Instead of black and red decor, there are exposed brick walls. It’s edgy and trendy and hip. The ambiance is not so much quiet and soothing as it is vibrant and cool.

“I lived in Los Angeles and went to USC. When I moved back, at that time, there was only one sushi place in Tulsa, and it was very traditional,” says Greg Hughes, owner of Tulsa’s two In the Raw locations, and the franchise in Broken Arrow. “I thought there was room for something new — nontraditional sushi, upbeat and progressive. I spent six months learning to roll sushi. I opened the Brookside location 20 years ago, in 1998. The Brook was the only restaurant on Brookside at that time, so we were the second in the area.”

Six years later, Hughes opened the On the Hill location.

The Yeti and G2/Ginger Roll (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
The Yeti and G2/Ginger Roll (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

The classic lines of the brick building on Brookside form the basis for the decor. “James Boswell is the architect on all my projects,” says Hughes. “He brings an edgy design element. We went for that nontraditional look here. For the On the Hill location, which has that wonderful view of Tulsa, we went for a similar design, but everything I did out there was for the view. The booths are all raised to get the full view. The windows are big and open. The bar faces the sunset. I wanted to bring the view inside.”

Last July the Brookside location added the Eel Bar, a full bar on the back patio built into a shipping container. “It’s all self-contained. It closes up with a 1,000-pound hydraulic door,” he says. “And starting in the spring, we’ll have Eel After Dark. The Eel Bar will be open until 2 a.m. We’ll have a DJ and a loungy vibe.”

The In the Raw menu continues that edgy, nontraditional feel, keeping up with trends, while always maintaining quality. Of course, you can get your favorites like California rolls or salmon skin rolls, but you can also get a wrap, a rice bowl, or ramen as well as some truly creative flavor combinations in roll form.

Sashimi Bowl (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Sashimi Bowl (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“We fly in our fish every day,” says Hughes. “The ahi tuna comes from Hawaii, the rest from LA. It costs more, but fresh is important.” Also important to Hughes are his experienced sushi chefs. “We have the top chefs in the region.”

The Dunwell roll — paying tribute to In the Raw’s Brookside home — is a consistent favorite item. It starts with crispy tempura shrimp and adds jalapeno, cream cheese, and a spicy sauce. The cream cheese is a smooth foil to the heat of the jalapeno and sauce. Another favorite is the Ginger 2 roll (yes, there’s a Ginger 1), filled with crabcake, cream cheese, blackened tuna, asparagus, jalapeno and topped with avocado, crunchies, habanero sauce, and sweet eel sauce. If you were wondering, the Ginger 1 roll has smoked salmon rather than tuna and avocado rather than asparagus.

For a quick and tasty treat to start your meal, try the ahi tuna poke bowl. Bite size chunks of ahi tuna are seasoned and topped with sesame oil. The ahi is fresh and firm and perfectly seasoned. It sits on top of avocado chunks, cucumber slices, and more. You can also order this fresh starter with salmon poke or with shrimp.

The Volcano roll is a top seller. This high-end roll is stuffed with tempura shrimp, cream cheese, avocado and jalapeno, and topped with scallops and scallions sautéed in a spicy sauce.

Another great choice, especially if you want to sample the seafood offerings, is the Sashimi Eleven bowl. It’s a beautiful presentation, full of salmon, tuna, octopus, shrimp, tamago, and more. The fish is served in meaty chunks that beg you to pick up your chopsticks and go old-school with it.

The ITR salad is one of the most popular items overall. Roasted chicken tops shredded lettuce with crispy noodles, wontons, toasted almonds and scallions. The whole thing is tossed with In the Raw’s signature ginger vinaigrette. It will only take one bite for you to know why it’s a favorite.

While In the Raw’s nontraditional take on sushi is great, don’t neglect their hot items. Their pepper filet may be one of the best steaks you can find in Tulsa. It’s an 8-ounce filet served with wasabi mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a portabella demi-glaze. You can add three tempura shrimp or a lobster tail for a surf and turf.

Next year, Hughes will open another In the Raw location on the sixth floor of the Tulsa Valley National Bank building, looking out over downtown and the ballpark. “We’re calling it ITR - Vu,” Hughes says. “And because takeout is such a growing market, we’re going to open a 700-square foot grab-and-go market on the ground floor. You’ll be able to get bento boxes, sushi, sake and wine.”

Hughes is understandably proud of his In the Raw locations. “What’s cool is that we’ve been here long enough to have families that have been coming here with kids who are now in high school,” he says. “They grew up and they’re still coming here. We’re introducing a new generation to sushi. And soon there will be another generation.”  

LOCATOR
In the Raw
intherawsushi.com

3321 S. Peoria Ave. | Tulsa
918-744-1300
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

6151 S. Sheridan Road | Tulsa
918-524-0063

Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

216 S. Main St. | Broken Arrow
918-893-6111
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

March 2019 Cover