Posted by: Orlick | June 16, 2008

Giving Them Another Chance

I think I’m spoiled. In past 6 months I have read 2 books on sushi, Sushi Economy and Zen of Fish, have been challenging myself, and trying to majorly up my game in sushi. I now realize I have been blessed by having excellent sushi by my house (Sapporo in Wantagh and Akari in Merrick) and near my work (Kohaku of Huntington, Robata and Kumo of Plainview). My more recent ventures in Queens and Brooklyn have generally had more of an assembly line feel to the fish and more sterility to the atmosphere (even though they generally have louder pop on the PA). Is this what I can expect?

There is a new sushi restaurant in my new neighborhood. Rave reviews, especially because of the cheap prices ($1 sushi, woah!). I decided to give it a shot, of course. Walking in, everything was very clean. Waitresses were pleasing to every sense of a dining experience. The chefs were cutting up the new day’s fish when I came in. Operationally, they ran it well. Fish taste and experience did not click with me.

I sat at the bar and asked the chef to give me 8 pieces of whatever he wants – giving him a chance to show what they are good at. The waitress overheard and translated what I said into Mandarin. He gave me tuna, salmon, yellowtail, fluke, white tuna. Only the white tuna made me stop and appreciate life, but from my experience it is pretty hard to mess white tuna up. Everything else was fresh, but really was not any good. Sterile pieces of fish – no character at all. The sushi rice was plain jane, and wasabi wasn’t even considered on my by the chef – not even a light finger run!

Next time I will hold the chef’s hand to get the real experience. I already have my choices picked out. I will have to run them through the ringer with toro, 2 types of roe, mackeral, tomago and others (I don’t have my list here). I plan on giving them a bit of a challenge before I make my decisions and review it for everyone to see. You know, a JO bad review basically guarantees going out of business.

A sushi bar is supposed to be like an actual drinking bar. You are supposed to gain some comradery with the bartender; he should challenge customers to try new things and get excited to meet new people. There should be regulars and the sushi chefs/bartenders know their names. I’m telling you, the evolution of America’s sushi bars is Cheers. It should be if it isn’t. This is something I want to be involved with.

Links:
My review of The Sushi Economy by Sasha Issenberg
My review of Zen of Fish by Trevor CorsonJO Endorsed
Tomo Sushi in Jackson Heights

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