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Sushi Roku: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Sushi Roku, 7277 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. (480) 970-2121. www.sushiroku.com

The Hours: 4 to 6:30 p.m. Daily

The Details: Sushi Roku's new happy hour menu features eleven "Bites" - like the Sautéed Garlic Green Beans, Crispy Chicken, and Popcorn Rock Shrimp - arranged into categories from $3 to $5 each. There are also discounts on sushi, skewers (chicken, shrimp, salmon, or asparagus), and even two dessert choices (for just $3 a piece). On the flipside of the happy hour menu are the "Sips" - an array of the restaurant's signature cocktails, wine by the glass, well drinks, and beer, all arranged again into $3-5 groups. A large Sapporo, for example, will usually cost you $8; now it's just $5. It's the cocktails, however, that are the best deal: Take the Strawberry Fizz (42 Below Vodka with fresh strawberries and lime, topped with club soda), a four-dollar-sign, you-betta-work $12 normally, now a happy-hour steal at just $4.

The Interior: Attached to the W Scottsdale Hotel, Sushi Roku is sleek and chic - an on-point presentation that extends to each dish that arrives on our table. The restaurant is decorated in a kind of contemporary organic, with woven woods and ropes and leather circular booths. The color scheme is all tans and blacks, bathed in an orange glow from the large window shades.

On an average evening, this is one of those quintessential Scottsdale spots: a place to be seen (and not heard - who could hear you over Rihanna?). But happy hour gives the whole space a more casual, come-as-you-are tone (only the hostess gives us a passing glance of disapproval). If it's true that normally the servers all look like they're fresh off the runways of Milan, then we applaud Sushi Roku for letting the more approachable, catalogue-models out of the bell tower on a lazy afternoon: They know their stuff, and before we knew it we were ordering way more than we could possibly eat in one sitting.

The Cost: One Fuji Apple Martini, one small beer, five apps, and one dessert comes out to $29 before tip and tax - and is enough for a table of four, at least.

The Conclusion: Sushi Roku is known and celebrated for two key things: sushi and scene. So in selecting happy-hour bites, we set sushi aside and let our server be our guide. While he steered us away from anything chicken, he highly recommended the Kobe Beef Slider ($4) and Japanese Eggplant in Sweet Miso ($3). "Think of French toast," he said, "and it will blow your mind." And he was right. That's one of the fun things about happy hour; you get to see an entirely different side to a restaurant. We would never have known how highly prized Sushi Roku's head pastry chef was (or, really, that they had a head pastry chef), the person responsible for so prettily writing "Arigato" in chocolate on the plate of our Banana Berry Spring Roll ($3). And that's why we'll go back for this happy hour: the extensive selection of bites and beverages at incredibly discounted prices; the daily hours; and the chance to appreciate an old favorite in a new way.

Overall Grade: A

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