East meets West
The Rising Sun serves quirky Japanese fusion
The Rising Sun's Pork Belly Udon
As I walk into The Rising Sun near 11th and Harvard, a too-loud door chime cuts through the afternoon quiet. I’m the only person in the restaurant. The space, flooded with natural light, is especially peaceful for a lunch hour, having not yet been discovered by the hoards of college students across the street. At least for the time being, The Rising Sun, Tulsa’s newest Japanese restaurant, sits squarely under the radar.
As the sister restaurant to The Sushi Place, The Rising Sun picks up where the downtown sushi bar leaves off. Executive chef Jayme Tan emphasizes The Sushi Place and The Rising Sun are their own separate concepts—the former focusing almost exclusively on Japanese-style sushi, and the latter on Japanese-fused entrees.
Tan calls on her heritage, her culinary training, and her roots in Asian cuisine-centric San Francisco to lead the charge for both restaurants. As a classically trained saucier, Tan uses her knowledge to marry interesting marinades with bold Asian tastes. The result is rich broths simmered for hours, stir-fried noodles soaked in sweet, umami taste bud-tingling sauces, and thick, hearty curries made with carefully chosen, wholesome ingredients.
“Whatever I serve has to be good enough for my son,” Tan said. “Always fresh and organic.”
As Tan described it, most of the items found on The Rising Sun’s menu reflect a ‘fused’ cooking style—one that joins traditional Japanese techniques with quirky new whims. In the kitchen, old school Japanese tactics—tenderizing, marinating, and pickling—meet Western favorites like fries and Shepherd’s Pie.
It’s not just Tan running the show—she’s quick to credit her talented staff and teammates.
There’s Aaron, whom she calls the “dependable, structured one,” Matt, who loves to think outside the box, and the restaurant’s other head chef, Joey, whom Tan boasts has a “sixth sense on spices.” Together, they plate a small but satisfying menu.
Any meal at The Rising Sun should start with the loaded fries. While not commonly found on Asian menus, they make good sense on this one. Tan’s crispy fries are lightly seasoned, drizzled with a gravy-like sauce with a subtle hint of wasabi, and topped with fresh scallions—like a Japanese take on Canada’s poutine, without the gut-bombing dairy. The fries are delicious on their own, but even better when dipped in soy sauce.
For the popular pork belly udon, preparations begin daily at 6:00 a.m. After a four hour-long simmer, the broth is poured over thick udon noodles, slices of succulent, traditionally-prepared pork belly, and fresh spring mix, then garnished with a couple of fried dumplings.
“Pork belly should be tender, moist,” Tan said. “Ours won’t ever be crispy or fried.”
Another of The Rising Sun’s specialties is the coconut curry. Tan said hers is a bit unusual as far as curries go; you don’t get the stronger notes of turmeric, or the sweetness found in most curries. Hers is more like a stew and is best when poured over the accompanying coconut rice.
“It’s not the eastern Indian kind of curry, neither is it Thai curry. It’s more like southeast.”
And although The Sushi Place is where you’ll find most of Tan and staff’s best sushi, The Rising Sun offers a small selection of its own. The crunchy maki comes with a side of house-made pickled vegetables—a small, tangy touch, and one of the restaurant’s best. As Tan develops new recipes and daily specials, the menu will continue to evolve.
“Expect the unexpected,” she said.
For more from Megan, read her interview with Chef Hope Egan.