My Favorite Sushi on Tybee: Raw Ingredients

My Favorite Sushi on Tybee: Raw Ingredients

OUR port city boasts a wealth of seafood. You can get it grilled, blackened, fried, steamed, whole, on the half shell, or filleted.

Even as much as there is available in our local sea of seafood, not every fish is seen as desirable. The biggest concentration of fishy fare is on Tybee Island, which is as to be expected.

And with so many options, it can be seemingly difficult to decide where to shake out the sand and fill your belly after a long day at the beach.

For the past few years, Raw Ingredients has made that choice easier, I would argue in an undebatable way. Raw makes it much easier for seafood aficionados to rendezvous with fresh fish expertly rolled into creative sushi. Marshall Stevens and Ian Davis opened the joint, eventually bringing in Marshall’s brother Myles Stevens to act as the Director of Operations. The idea was to fill a large hole that was present in the restaurant market of Tybee.

Myles tells the me tale of Raw Ingredients.
“They were working in the surf shops, hustling, and had all of these different ideas,” he says. “This building became available, they were across the street working, and the owner of the building was like, ‘Hey guys, I am going to put this building up for lease.’ They brainstormed and decided to open a sushi restaurant.”

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But before opening the doors, Marshall and Ian gained experience by working at various sushi restaurants. The rest was history—everything fell into place and Tybee was never the same.

When you have the love of your locals, success comes easy on Tybee, which becomes apparent in the slow months when all of the tourists have packed up their beach bags and headed back inland.

The idea is to “put out high quality food and in a place where you are comfortable being. Where you can come in, be yourself and relax, and enjoy yourself and still enjoy high quality food,” says Myles.

As for the menu, the most important part of any good shop, it was a collaborative effort, and according to Myles, “also testing the competition, seeing what the competition is doing, then taking what they are doing and adding our own flair.”

I remember the first time I discovered Raw, picking up a Create Your Own Bowl at the end of a long, salty day on Tybee. And since trying it for the very first time, several years ago, the store has only extended its menu into bigger and better options.

Myles says they “didn’t [expand the menu] the first two years. We had a solid menu then added some other things like the Hide Tide and the Spring Roll.”

As one of my favorite menu items, which you will still find on the menu featured along with a few new Create You Own variations, making your own bowl is a great starting point for newcomers.

The available ingredients to pick include twelve different proteins, all of the classic sushi options of course, a plethora of vegetables to layer in, and a choice of sauce to finish it all off. The caveat is, it is extremely easy to go overboard with all of the quality options—but who is judging?

Why not add in multiple sauces and all of your favorite sushi proteins, especially considering “almost all of the sauces are made in house,” as Myles says.

My typical bowl includes shrimp tempura, spicy kani (crab), seaweed, avocado, carrots, spicy mayo, and eel sauce.

The same ingredients can be placed on top of a salad, rolled into a burrito, or handcrafted into a sushi roll you can name after yourself.

If you do not want to create your own, instead relying on the expert’s hand, you will find classic sushi rolls like the California, Spicy Tuna, Spider, and Philadelphia on the menu.

There are the Simple sushi rolls like an Avocado, Cucumber, or Salmon roll, and finally the best options of all of handcrafted rolls—the Special rolls.

The Special rolls are where the store really showcases its unique perspective and style, which you probably already gathered from the the walls that are covered in rotating hand drawn art by Jessica B., a good friend of the restaurant.

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My favorite roll is the Flamingo Roll. Its bright colored soy paper wrap makes it easy to ascertain where the roll got its name. Spicy crab meat, avocado, eel, and tempura shrimp, make up this satisfying work of art. For me, there is not a better combination of ingredients that you can put inside of a roll.

Taken as a whole, the flavors that fill your mouth are spicy, sweet, fatty, nutty, and finally umami from the fish—a sticky, sauce-covered creation that I dream about. Ingredient-wise, it is relatively close to the Create Your Own Bowl I order.

The High Tide is filled with shrimp, cheese, and fresh avocado then topped with salmon before the entire roll gets a bake. The tiny touch of baking the finished roll changes the flavor profile of the entire dish, illustrating the distinctive style of Raw.

Keeping with the imaginative theme, the Chathamite is yet another roll that is unique to the store. It features fried shrimp, and rightly so. Alongside the shrimp sits cucumber, a summer fruit that can be found on so many southern tables. The final touch is a topping of spicy tuna and seaweed.

There is much more to come from the cool cats at Raw. The sushi team is set to open a brand new spot next door Ripe Ingredients. The new joint to maintain the cool laid back attitude of Raw while offering high quality and well made smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, and more.

I know I will be keeping an eye out for its inception this summer and stop by to grab a light lunch to take with me to the beach.

Original article is here.

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Beachview Java & Juice

Beachview Java & Juice

Part of Tybee Island’s allure, to both locals and visitors, is its qualities that have withstood the test of time against its potential to become saturated with high-rise condos and chain businesses.

With that being said, it is a rare occasion that a new place pops up on Tybee, and in many cases it is a familiar Tybee business that expands its resume.

As of this summer, Beachview Bed and Breakfast now falls into that category, opening their very own coffee, juice, and breakfast shop.

Beachview Bed and Breakfast is located on the south end of the Island, and has been a Tybee staple for some time. Owners Frank and Karen Kelly expanded the bed and breakfast in 2015 by opening a wedding venue next door.

After operating the venue for sometime, Frank and Kelly decided to switch gears and focus their energy on coffee and juice—an easy model considering the team’s love of coffee and Karen’s love of juice, Karen tells me.

The storefront itself epitomizes Tybee Island—rustic wood walls, a white washed wood ceiling, seashell chandeliers, and wall to wall windows for that beachside airy feeling. Walking in, you immediately take in everything our tourists love about our quaint and rarely-changing Tybee Island.

When it comes to the menu, “the entire team spent time researching coffee shops, small cafes, and juice bars, and they just started throwing different items together to come up with their always changing menu,” explains Karen.

Let’s start with coffee, which is in my opinion the most important part of any morning. After trying several coffee roasters, Beachview settled on Rev Coffee from Smyrna, Georgia.

Karen tells me: “We really loved Nick, the owner of Rev Coffee, and his personality and coffee.”

The flavor of the coffee is smooth and subtle, a great canvas for any sugary or creamy accompaniment that may get stirred in.

The “Beachview Turtle is our signature coffee drink and it’s served either hot or cold,” Karen explains.

I went for the cold version because the morning I visited was a typical toasty Tybee day. Two shots of fresh brewed espresso are layered in a tall glass with milk, hazelnut syrup, caramel, chocolate, and whipped cream.

Turtle could not have been a more fitting name. The drink is sweet, almost tricking the palate into thinking you are drinking a milkshake, but not before your tongue is tickled by the slightly bitter tinge of roasted espresso.

The restaurant offers several other specialty coffee drinks, including a caramel macchiato, a white mocha, and something dubbed The Don, which is served with steamed milk and a dark chocolate syrup.

For those a little more traditional in their coffee selection, drip coffee or a French press is available. The espresso options are just as plentiful, ranging from an americano to a Cuban, which may be my favorite way to drink espresso.

A Cuban is a double shot of espresso served with raw sugar at the bottom. You stir in the hot shot, which creates a warm pungently sweet shot of rich, dark coffee.

Equally as delicious is the store’s robust selection of fresh fruit smoothies. Every single ingredient is fresh, which makes the price of only $6 unbelievable.

The Berry Chill smoothie was my first choice because the list of ingredients featured every ingredient that is right about summer. Fresh bright blueberries are layered with syrupy sweet pineapple, tangy thick yogurt, and refreshing coconut water.

The emulsion is almost too beautiful to drink, and goes down quickly due to the balanced yet quenching and light flavor.

The Blueberry Kiwi smoothie also features blueberries, but has the addition of kiwi, almond milk, and honey—extremely unique pairings that give the smoothie a heartier and creamier texture and taste.

On the healthier side, although I am not sure you can get much more beneficial than what is already offered, is the Mango Kale Smoothie.  The lightest of them all, the Skinny, is blended with cucumber, spinach, mint, and orange juice — a smoothie that would be easy to drink beachside bearing the summer warmth.

Although named Java and Juice, Beachview offers more than just good coffee and refreshing smoothies. Karen tells me “all baked goods are made in house” and “she does the majority of baking.”

You read that right: The menu includes fresh moist baked breakfast treats ranging from muffins to French toast.

Karen also mentions The Nest, which is a dish that was created “one day when we [Beachview] had some extra ingredients.”

It is easily the most unique item offered at the quaint restaurant. Served in its own individual dish, shredded hash browns, eggs, and ham are baked together, which are essentially all of my favorite breakfast ingredients. You will find little salty bites of ham floating amongst tender and fluffy eggs, and the bottom adds a bit of texture with crispy hashbrowns.

“Our Swiss Eggs have been a been a Beachview Bed and Breakfast favorite and has quickly become a Java Juice favorite as well,” Karen boasts.

Like the Nest, this breakfast dish is prepared and served in its own individualized dish and is created with a combination of breakfast meat, cheese, and eggs.

On the more classic side of bed and breakfast food offerings is the Oscar Quiche, but the preparation is in no way classic. The order comes as a single slice of cloud-like egg quiche; floating amongst the robust wedge is a bounty of wilted vegetables of spinach, carrots, peppers, onions, and more.

As to be expected, the bottom is a tender flaky pastry crust that is buttery without being soggy. The bold quantity of ingredients is what makes this version far from classic.

Original article can be found Here.

Tybee’s Salt Island Fish & Beer

Tybee’s Salt Island Fish & Beer

Many believe the original inhabitants of Tybee Island were the Euchee tribe. According to legend, their word for “salt” was tybee.

“Salt Island literally means Tybee Island,” Emily Liebtag, co-owner of Tybee Island’s newest restaurant, Salt Island Fish & Beer, tells me as we sit at the newly renovated bar chatting.

She explains that with the name of the restaurant she and her husband, Chef and co-owner Eric Liebtag, “wanted to pay homage to what came before, and show people they care about the island.”

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As for the second portion of the name Fish and Beer, the aim was to cue patrons that the restaurant strives to feature as much local fish and beer as absolutely possible.

On the local side of the beer list, Salt Island offers various craft beers from Savannah’s loved Service Brewery and Coastal Empire Brewery. Other semi-local beers include options from Sweetwater Brewing, Jekyll Brewing, and Oconee Brewing.

The cocktail list is even more impressive and was created by Chef Eric, who “has been running restaurants for over 20 years; he even went to culinary school in London,” Emily says. IMG_7131

Crosby, the assistant manager and bartender, recommends the Ginger & Mary Ann. The cocktail features three different types of rum and is created by shaking pineapple juice with the rum “until the juice gets frothy,” he explained.

Crosby also tells me about the Tybee Island Handshake, a two-fer of a Mexican beer with a shot of tequila, that is on the regular menu but is also part of Salt Island’s happy hour. In addition to a regular happy hour, the store plans on hosting a “reverse happy hour that lasts from 10-11 p.m.,” Crosby elaborates as I sample UFO’s Georgia Peach. Beer such as this one, made specifically for Georgia distribution, is what makes Salt Island’s beer offerings so unique.

When it comes to their food, the Elote was one of the best things I sampled from the menu. Elote is street food that traditionally encompasses fire-roasted corn on the cob smothered with a variation toppings including butter, mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, and cheese.

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For this version, Chef Eric takes the corn off of the cob, making it much easier to eat, and puts a char on the ears before mixing them with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro.

Overall the flavor is nutty from the crumbled cotija, but your tongue is quickly bombarded with the smoky flavor of grilled corn before the smooth finish of a creamy and peppery heat.

In ordering the Elote, you have the option to add shrimp. Do it. The skewered shrimp that are served resting atop the bowl of creamy corn are perfectly charred and slathered in fresh herbs.

Cooked perfectly, the shrimp add a buttery sweetness to the already flawless dish.

I have mentioned it before in a past article, but I would not consider myself a big fan of crab cakes. It is so easy to over mix, overfill, or under-cook the delicate dish.

So many chefs skimp on the portion of crab by using every filler ingredient under the sun, which is a shame when the title of the dish cues the eater that the flavor of crab should be front and center.

Chef Eric has done none of those things; instead he challenges himself everyday by hand-picking blue crab meat fresh from the shell to create his flavorful rendition of crab cakes.IMG_7218

Chef Eric “really loves the crab cakes,” and focuses on making them a good as by preparing them fresh everyday “with just jumbo lump crab and not filler, just seasoning.”

Because Emily is from Michigan, the menu pays homage to a nostalgic ingredient, smelt. And although Savannah is a fish and seafood adoring town, many people have never tasted the midwestern delicacy.

Smelt are small in size making them perfect for frying to eat whole. Salt Island’s version pays respect to the fish by serving them fried to a crisp with a side of lemon caper aioli; a perfect fatty yet acidic sauce to equalize the snack.

Emily excitedly explains that many of the items on the menu are labeled as snacks because, “so much of the menu is built to be shareable or as snacks.”

Another midwestern classic included as a snack on the menu is the Smoked Fish Dish. But unlike the midwestern version that traditionally features white fish, Chef Eric uses a fresh local catch: mullet.

To create the dish, Chef Eric first brines the fish and finishes it by smoking it in-house for approximately four hours. On the side comes fresh fried chips that he tops himself with malt vinegar.

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Chef Eric elaborates that he likes “to have fun with food, and has been playing around a lot with beer cheese,” a key ingredient in his hush puppies.

The Beer Cheese Hush Puppies come jammed full of the beer cheese made using Cooter brown ale combined with sharp cheddar and pepper jack.

On the side, to balance the bold and savory hush puppies, a sweet and acidic tomato bacon jam is served.

Once Emily and Eric get a bit more settled — considering that before moving to Savannah last year they traveled across the country while Eric opened up various restaurants — they plan on hosting a ton of exciting events at the restaurant.

Saturday and Sunday brunch is one option, as well as Tiki Tuesday with service of traditional Tiki Cocktails and a someone behind the bar spinning records.