Bang Bang's main dining room sports hundreds of lanterns — Photo courtesy of Bang Bang
Bang Bang in San Diego is just as popular as a nightlife spot as it is for its innovative Japanese cuisine. Meant to evoke an Asian street market feel (or the fanciest Asian street market you've ever been to), the space is divided into three separate experiences: one part Asian fusion restaurant, one part sushi bar and one part theatre (which hosts live music).
Enter through a stairway tunnel reminiscent of one you might find in a Tokyo subway station. Authentic ambient noise, including horns and footsteps, play through hidden speakers.
In addition to the stairway – guests need to be particularly mindful of its steepness after they've downed a few cups of premium sake – Bang Bang has received national attention for a few other clever design aspects.
Hundreds of Japanese lanterns line the ceiling of the main dining area.
The steep stairway up to Bang Bang — Photo courtesy of Bang Bang
Ladies will go crazy over one bathroom stall in particular, and there isn't another one in the world like it, that we know of. The walls are plastered with floor-to-ceiling photos of Ryan Gosling, from headshots to paparazzi snaps.
The luscious photos are not ripped out magazine pages, either. Some genius created special wallpaper to use that would no doubt be a hot seller if ever brought to market. But if the Gos toilet isn't available, not to worry: choose Hello Kitty or another theme.
Jealous gents need not worry. Men's bathroom stalls boast the likes of Godzilla, Voltron and more.
The West Coast's largest disco ball — Photo courtesy of Bang Bang
Though it may be an odd concept, the sushi rolls featured on the menu are named after people and characters spied in bathroom stalls. The Ryan Gosling is (obviously) popular, with spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, jalapeño with yellowtail, chive and chili aoili.
Or, go for the Bruce Lee, with spicy yellowtail, cucumber wrapped with albacore, shisho and lemon slices with a soy mustard sauce.
Nosh on pork buns, fried rice and perhaps the most interesting menu item, involving ice cream on top of raw fish. Yes, ahi poke seaweed salad is sushi rice ice cream, and, as strange as it sounds, it's a combination that works.
Thirsty? Try the gigantic flaming punch bowl (Yes, they light it on fire.) filled with booze and designed to share.
Dance the night away under the West Coast's largest disco ball. World-class DJs spin tunes several nights per week under the sparkling 5.5-foot giant. Bottle service is available if reserved in advance through Bang Bang's website or by calling.
Come for the food, stay for the nightlife . . . and maybe the bathrooms.