First impressions of AMA Sushi at Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

When AMA Sushi opened at the Rosewood Miramar Beach resort, I was in no rush to go because I don’t like sushi enough to justify paying a lot of money for it. But I like other kinds of Japanese food, of which there is a fair amount on the menu, and friends have said that it is possible to order a la carte without going hungry or breaking the bank.

AMA and I were off to a rocky start when I received this text half an hour before our reservation. I asked both hosts what the purpose was, and they said they had no idea and most people didn’t. One under the hand, it’s funny and who cares? On the other hand, the more expensive the establishment, the more I expect. And as my husband likes to say when I complain about anything tech: just change the scenery, baby.

AMA is on the side of the Miramar’s main building, and by now you surely know that the hotel grounds are beautiful. Omakase dinners are seated indoors, while most a la carte dinners are on the brick terrace overlooking the bocce courts. (There are also two tables and a four-seater bar inside where you can order a la carte.) Although not quite as magical as under the canopy of loquats at San Ysidro Ranch, the atmosphere is still pretty and much better than a parcel. We found the furnishings elegant and comfortable, and we liked the lighting so much that between classes we went online and ordered two of the table lamps.

A few caveats: 1) We were fine on a foggy night, but if conditions got cooler, wetter, or windier, the heat lamps probably wouldn’t be enough; 2) sitting next to a pétanque court is only acceptable if no one is playing pétanque; and 3) the station’s general music, including “U Got the Look” and “Part-Time Lover” the night we went, overlaps with AMA’s lounge music for distracting effect.

I ordered the Boketto cocktail, made with gin, vermouth, verjuice, elderflower liqueur and something called “sakura fizz”, and would definitely recommend it.

Everyone we interacted with was friendly and professional. As is not uncommon outside major cities, however, you get the feeling that the staff haven’t had the chance to frequent many ambitious restaurants, and the letter training can lead to awkward stiffness. For example, when servers approach the table, they pretend to greet customers by name. “Hello, Mr. Torkells!” said ours looking at my husband, who didn’t take my name. Then she turned to me and smiled weakly.

We overordered, partly out of enthusiasm, partly because it’s a deductible expense, and partly because we didn’t know what the portion size was. The best dishes were the hirame crudo and the shrimp tempura, but for every winner there was a disappointment (cold tofu tamago in the fridge, overcooked scallops). Most of the food was somewhere in the middle – lovely, but the flavors never really popped.

As for the sushi, we ordered egg and uni sushi, an eel and avocado roll, a salmon roll, and a jalapeno hamachi roll. Like the food overall, it was…good? And I still can’t tell you much about portion sizes other than that they vary. The two reels below are basically the same price, but one is twice as big.

Our bill came to $350 before tip. Cutting the $26 cocktail, $26 uni sushi, and another $20 entree, we could easily have brought it down to $275 – still special occasion territory for us, but more palatable, given that a double premium must be paid to be at a luxury resort in Montecito. We may not be the only ones to be irritated by the prices: the omakase menu has gone from $185 to $165.

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