Tag Archives: sushi

Haru

My wife and I stopped in here on a weekend to try their happy hour menu.

We started with some drinks:

And then moved on to the food. Wings, shishito peppers, and four rolls: Haru wasabi, phoenix, Hell’s Kitchen, and spicy Titanic.

Everything was great, and we will definitely be back here again. The total bill for everything was just over $60. Not bad.

HARU SUSHI
859 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Mifune

I was invited into Mifune with my wife to sample some of their meat dishes and post some photos on Instagram. But we started with some cocktails, because Shingo Gokan, the man behind the cocktail menu, is an award winning “mixologist.”

This is the Seven Samurai, which is made with rye, aged sake, East India sherry, bitters and smoke:

Pretty beautiful, and really tasty. The smoke aroma was as intoxicating as the booze, and it was similar to a smoked old fashioned.

The Throne of Blood is made with Japanese whisky, Bourbon Antica, Torino and bitters. This is similar to a Manhattan.

The Hidden Fortress, made with bourbon, milk, honey shrub, orange cordial and bitters, is super smooth and tasty.

Finally, we tried the Drunken Angel, made with Hibiki, Umeshu and shiso. This was also great. Very light and crisp.

Now on to the food. The first thing we tried was the steak tartare.

This is made with Angus beef, poached egg and tosazu sauce (a seafood style vinegar). Watch the video as the egg breaks into the tartare:

It was delicious. More like a beef tartare soup – very interesting.

This next item was on special: bluefin tuna temaki. It’s a rib section of bluefin tuna, served with seashells for scraping the meat out and making hand rolls with all the fixings.

Check out this video. Pretty insane!

At just $40, this is a great deal. We probably got about 10 or 12 hand rolls out of this baby.

Okay now on to the meats! First, a straw smoked rack of lamb!

The lamb was perfectly cooked to medium rare.

It came with roasted garlic and grilled fennel. But the real treat about this dish is that when it comes to the table for eating, it’s served in a clay dish that has a smoking chamber underneath, so you get to smell that awesome straw smoke aroma the whole time while you eat.

Next up was washugyu tenderloin.

Washugyu is an American Black Angus and Japanese Wagyu cross breed that achieves a great balance of beefy flavor and tender marbling. This is the same stuff I sell in my shop, pretty much. Anyway, it was incredibly tender and flavorful. They got a nice sear on the meat too. 9/10.

It’s plated up with a shallot puree and some roasted veggies.

This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend this place, especially for that bluefin tuna temaki. You should go ASAP if you have any interest, because I don’t know how long that will be available on special.

MIFUNE
245 E 44th St
New York, NY 10017

Sushi By Bou

The concept of a quick and high quality meal is something in which all NYC denizens are interested. Sushi By Bou executes that concept in spades with its 30 minute omakase.

Some of you might already be familiar with the kiosk location of this joint down in Gansevoort Market. Same idea, but this is a dedicated space in a really fun location beneath the Sanctuary Hotel near Times Square.

There’s only room for about 7-10 people inside, but with fast 12 or 13 piece nigiri offerings, you won’t have to wait very long if they’re already full. Enjoy one of the awesome cocktails while you wait.

There’s some great showmanship too. Chef David is an outgoing guy, funny, and enjoys chatting it up with the diners. And in such a small setting, you may as well get to know the people you’re eating with for the next 30 minutes. The scenery is nice too. I enjoyed watching David torch some of the pieces of nigiri.

Here’s some video of him making the wagyuni (uni on top of seared wagyu):

There’s really no point in me reciting what each piece was and giving a review of them one by one. They were all fantastic. Don’t murder me if I mislabel any of these, but I think I did a pretty good job of identifying them all.

Hamachi

Tuna

Shrimp

Golden Snapper

Scallop

Wagyu

Uni

Salmon

Tuna Belly

Flipjack

Wagyuni

Roe

Eel

My favorites, obviously, involved wagyu, uni and roe, but I was also impressed with the scallop and skipjack pieces as well. I highly recommend checking this place out. You won’t be disappointed

SUSHI BY BOU
The Sanctuary Hotel
132 W 47th St
New York, NY 10036

Kizuna Nikkei

NOTE: This joint is now closed.

Kizuna Nikkei serves up some of the most stunningly beautiful and delicious dishes I’ve had in a while. Nikkei cuisine is a form of Japanese and Peruvian fusion that evolved in Peru due to Japanese cultural influence in the region. This was my first time indulging in this kind of food, and it certainly won’t be my last.

My wife and I were invited in for a complimentary tasting of some items on the menu, in hopes that we would help get the word out about this new joint. Owner/Manager Jacob recently changed the focus (and decor) of this restaurant from a steakhouse (Carnem) to Nikkei. I had eaten at Carnem before, and I can say with 100% confidence that this new venture is a much better endeavor when it comes to the food.

So let’s get down to business. We started with the Maguro Nikkei, which is a tartare-like dish consisting of big eye tuna, kyuri, avocado, aji amarillo, tamari and kaiware.

This was really beautiful and fresh. A great way to start the meal.

And I’m going to tell you right now: each dish that came out was more beautiful and more flavorful than the last. So hold onto your asses and get ready for some gorgeous plating.

Next up was the Hamachi Crudo.

Yellowtail, orange, ponzu, aji limo and garlic brunoise make up this bright and crisp dish.

Again, really fresh and flavorful. And gorgeous.

The next item we sampled was called Sake Passion.

This is king salmon, passion fruit, crispy gyoza skin and aguaymanto.

I was mesmerized by the plating, and wowed by the flavors. I love raw salmon treatments, and this one nailed it.

This next dish is almost too beautiful for words.

This was black sea bass with octopus, scallop, shrimp, calamari, fried cassava and ikura (roe) in aji Amarillo sauce.

This sauce had a really good heat, and every component of the dish was cooked to absolute perfection.

I highly recommend this dish when you come here.

Our final course was a braised beef short rib with sweet potato, lotus root, carrots, enoki mushrooms and white asparagus in a garlic, onion, cilantro sauce.

The sauce had an earthy heat to it that penetrated deep into the beef flesh and lingered in your mouth with each delicious bite.

I highly recommend this dish as well, especially if you’re a beef person like me.

The portions here are crafted for a light tasting style dining experience. Order a bunch of things, or share, and you will definitely enjoy every bite. There’s a LOT to try here, and I’m looking forward to going back again soon. I’ve already told my friends that live in the neighborhood about this place. Awesome.

KIZUNA NIKKEI
318 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Flame

Flame is a pretty large hibachi joint on the upper west side. I was recently invited in for a hibachi meal with a bunch of lunatic foodies.

They put on a great show here, I must say.

We started off with a pair of shrimp.

Then some fried rice and veggies.

And then the steaks came out!

Very simply prepared, and nicely cooked.

As far as hibachi goes, this is one of the best I’ve experienced. But that’s not where the action stops. They also serve a variety of nice dumplings, sushi and other seafood.

Everything was great; especially that miso octopus tentacle. I highly recommend this joint. There’s a lot of space, really beautiful tables and decor, and even some really nice mixed cocktails.

FLAME
100 W 82nd St
New York, NY 10024

Natsumi Tapas

When I see something that’s marketed as Japanese-Italian fusion, the first thing that comes to my mind is Super Mario Brothers, one of the best video games ever released by Nintendo.

From http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net
From http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net

But now, since having this meal, the next thing that comes to mind is Natsumi Tapas. Natsumi is the latest venture by Barbara Matsumara, and it focuses on small plates for grazing and larger plates for sharing. She consulted with Italian chef Andrea Tiberi and sushi chef Hiroyuki Nagao to create a dynamic menu that gets increasingly interesting the more you look at it. I was invited in for a press meal with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, so we got to taste a lot of stuff. Here’s what we had:

First, a nice pour of sake from this very cool bottle that houses the ice inside the center without touching the sake and thereby watering it down.

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This place also mixes up some really nice cocktails too, by the way, like the EMW, which is made with shiso leaf, sake and gin.

We started with this filet mignon, which was served sliced, tataki style, with a ponzu, garlic and truffle sauce. The truffle and garlic really brought an awesome fusion flavor to an otherwise Japanese flavored dish. While this wasn’t a traditional “steak” in the sense of a steakhouse cut or portion size, I’m still going to score it since it was worth discussing. 8/10. I definitely recommend this dish.

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Next up was the tuna tartare martini with avocado and caviar. The orange layer at the bottom definitely had some tobiko mixed in for a nice change-up in texture. Very smart. The mango and basil pesto sauce really made this pop with unorthodox and surprisingly good flavor combinations. Also recommended.

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While the flatbread wasn’t exactly the pizza dough crust that I imagined (it was more like a puffy cracker), it did pack a lot of flavor. We tried the spicy tuna caviar flatbread. It wasn’t as much of a fusion as some of the others seemed to be, like the seared salmon flatbread, but it was really delicious nonetheless. If you’ve ever had “sushi pizza” before at some other restaurants, it is somewhat similar to that, and always a crowd-pleaser.

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This bowl of green tea gnocchi with asparagus and capers in a light butter sauce was absolutely perfect. Definitely my favorite item of the night, by far. While it leaned a bit more on the Italian side, it was probably one of the better gnocchi dishes I’ve had in town. The green tea flavor was very mild, but the sauce was drinkable. I highly recommend this dish when you go here. Not only was it tasty, but it was also beautiful.

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We finished our savory courses with the Squarano roll; seared tuna, seared salmon, kani, avocado, scallion, pepperoncini and green tea aioli. This was pretty tasty, and nicely nestled into the fusion realm with the addition of an aioli and pepperoncini from Italian cuisine. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of their special roll selections. They all looked great.

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For dessert we tried the cheese cake tempura, which was nice and crispy outside, and soft like mashed potatoes inside. It had just the right amount of sweetness, and the berry compote on the plate was the perfect way to incorporate a sauce element.

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Definitely give this place a shot. It just opened in March and the place was packed to the gills when we went on a Tuesday night at 7pm. The ambiance is comfortable, not too dim, not too bright, not too loud and very spacious, which is a welcome addition to the NYC Japanese restaurant world.

NATSUMI TAPAS
323 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10010

Ozoku Sushi & Sashimi Bar

The Royalton Hotel has a sushi and sashimi bar up front in the lobby called Ozoku. My wife grabbed a great flash deal for the omakase for two people.

First off, this was a great hickory smoked old fashioned:

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Okay so the food. The first course was the veggies. Soy beans and sesame-kimchi brussels sprouts.

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Next up was a pair of sashimi plates. One was tuna with pickled beets, and the other was hamachi.

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Nigiri was next. A fatty salmon and some more hamachi.

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Then a bowl of soup, which was really awkward to share among two people, but we managed. This was a coconut curry broth with mussels and fingerling potatoes.

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Just when we thought the meal might be over, we got two more plates of sushi rolls. One was tuna, the other was scallop and shrimp.

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And then, finally, after we were pretty much stuffed, we received this plate of smoked porgie.

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Not a bad spread of food! However, the lounge area where you eat is a bit awkward because you have to lean down to the table the entire time, and your back will start to ache. Since the hotel is super sexy and chic, the set up is more like a lounge than a restaurant.

OZOKU SUSHI & SASHIMI BAR
44 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

Jack’s Sliders & Sushi

My wife scooped up a flash deal for this place that offered five courses with a bottle of wine.

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We got to sample a little bit of everything. I’ll hit you with a rundown of everything below:

The first thing I will say is that this place needs to do better with the pacing of the service. Everything pretty much came out all at once. The table was extremely cluttered as a result, and things inevitably spilled. I don’t mind too much, but maybe the kitchen needs to think about that when they receive orders.

We “started” with the spicy salmon salad to share. This was essentially a bed of lettuce topped with onions, diced salmon sashimi and spicy mayo. I thought it was delicious. Simple and tasty.

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The two sliders we tried were “Jack’s” and “The American.” “Jack’s” had bacon, onions and a spicy mayo, while “The American” was a simple lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese burger. The better of the two was Jack’s. It was nicely seasoned, had a good char, was cooked just right, and even had their dog logo pressed into the bun.

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We devoured these with an order of the old bay and herb french fries. These were excellent: golden crisp! Glad we ordered these above and beyond what the flash deal provided.

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Our next course was ramen. We tried the pork and beef bowls, skipping a sushi choice. The pork ramen was bland and lacked flavor – even the pork meat itself, which looked great, was just a little too boring. In hindsight, I wish we ditched the pork ramen and went with a sushi roll instead.

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The beef ramen had a good salt level, decent thin-sliced meat, and a thicker broth. That was the winner of the two, but I would say that if ramen is your game, then you should go to another place. This place is better for the burgers and sushi, and the ramen comes off more Chinese in flavor than Japanese.

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Our next item was braised short rib. The veggies here were useless. They tasted frozen or over-steamed or something. Not much flavor. But the beef itself was good. The meat was soft and tender, and the fat was all edible.

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Our wine was actually good. We went with the merlot instead of cabernet, chardonnay or pinot grigio. I thought it was going to be a headache-inducing acid reflux fest, but it was smooth and mild.

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For dessert, we tried two ice cream sandwiches. One was a sugar cookie with cookies and cream ice cream in between, and the other was red velvet cake with taro ice cream in the middle. Both were good, but we liked the sugar cookie better. The cookie held up better than the cake as “sandwich” material.

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Overall this was a decent meal. Skip the ramen, stick to the raw fish and burgers, and get the fries. That should keep you happy.

JACK’S SLIDERS & SUSHI
171 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

Hasegawa General Store Spam Musubi

We started a day of driving and hiking with the local breakfast of champions from the Hasegawa General Store – spam musubi.

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This was my first time eating spam. Admittedly it was pretty fucking good. It’s served crispy / browned on hot rice with sesame seeds, Japanese seasonings, and wrapped in nori. It tasted like a good sausage mixed with spiced ham to me. I’m sold.

Fushimi

This review is for the Williamsburg location of Fushimi (there are two others – one in Bay Ridge, and one in Staten Island). I was recently invited here for a complimentary press dinner.

First, a little bit about the joint: Fushimi is a Japanese and French fusion restaurant that focuses on traditional Japanese items but with a French twist. Why, you ask?

Chef Chul Kee Ko’s parents had a Japanese restaurant in Seoul, where he spent a lot of time absorbing traditional Japanese food culture and techniques. But as a young man the intrigue of other cuisines ended up drawing him to a culinary school in Vancouver to further study his passion for French food. There, he worked his way up through several French restaurants before deciding it was time to honor his roots with a renewed focus on Asian cuisines. After honing his craft at such places as Buddha Bar, and with chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the fusion of the two food cultures was only natural when Ko came to New York to strike out on his own with Fushimi.

The ambiance at Fushimi is trendy and luxurious, with a purpose to be part of the nightlife scene as the evening progresses. That’s not really my speed, but as long as I can see my food and the music isn’t too loud, it’s all good with me – and it wasn’t loud or dark. We were there until about 9:45pm and I never felt like it was getting too loud, dim, or clubby. I certainly don’t mind if a business wants to cater to a lounge crowd as the evening transforms into night: Actually it’s probably a good idea given the vibrant neighborhood it’s in. And there’s plenty of room for them to do this, between the massive front bar and lounge area, the spacious booth and street-side table seating, and the rear sushi bar.

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There are some really interesting and modern fixtures and decorations throughout, with an amazing tunnel that leads back to an opulent bathroom area:

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Their logo can be seen everywhere, even in large format on the side of the building. Brand recognition:

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Chef Ko selects fresh ingredients daily and, as a result, the menu has a seasonal aspect to it. They offer a variety of dining options (lunch, brunch, dinner, early dinner, specials, parties, etc). Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese. Kaiseki is a multiple-course meal. We had Omakase Kaiseki, which you can figure out (if you are any degree sharper than a dull spoon) means that we left the contents of a multiple-course meal up to the chef. We simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the food without having to do much thinking about the menu. Here’s what we had:

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We started with some drinks. I had an awesome cucumber passion martini that was going down like a refreshing sports drink. I could very easily slam these all night.

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My wife had the sake sangria drink, which had bits of apple, strawberry, blueberry and orange within. It was like a boozy fruit salad:

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Now on to the food:

First was an amuse bouche of portobello mushroom veloute and a crispy risotto ball. The ball was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was tasty and flavorful, with a hint of cheese flavor that kept it moist. The soup was really creamy and smooth: think of the best cream of mushroom soup you’ve ever had, only without the bits of mushroom in it.

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Next up was this kickass wooden tray of assorted appetizers. I loved this because I got to try a bunch of really nice items in one shot.

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There was yuzu gelee with yellow tomato inside. A really nice pop of sweet and sour in one shot.

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I usually don’t like eel very much, but this freshwater variety was light, mild and perfectly prepared. It really shined with some cured peppercorns on top. I think it was probably my favorite from the appetizer box.

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A close second, though, was this thinly sliced scallop with wasabi and shaved radish. So clean and nicely textured.

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This salad contains four different varieties of seaweed from Okinawa. Also very light, but brined with the flavor of the sea.

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The next compartment was fresh raw sea urchin atop a jumbo shrimp tartare. This was really nice as well, and vied for second place neck and neck with the sliced scallop. The uni was top quality shit, and the shrimp was super smooth as well. Everything worked, and the nori slices gave it some flavor and seasoning.

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Last of the appetizer box was the mixed veggies. Semi-raw string bean, carrot, and multi-colored cauliflower served with a sweet glaze. These were great and refreshing.

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As you can tell by now the plating at this joint is immaculate and beautiful. By now I was really excited to see how the rest of the meal was going to look. I pretty much already knew it would taste amazing after that last course. But I didn’t realize HOW good until I took a bite of this Chilean sea bass.

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This was honestly one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten, and probably our favorite dish of the evening. Lucky for everyone else, this is a very popular dish at the restaurant. I can see why. The top of the meat was crisp and flavorful, and the lower portion was so soft, flaky and moist. Perfect execution. The garnishes of roasted heirloom cherry tomato (sweet), pickled red onion  (sour), and black sesame ponzu puree (bitter and savory) all made for a really complex and well-balanced dish that was ultimately the exact amount of simplicity as well. Chef Ko really knows how to feature his ingredients in a way that makes them stand out as special.

Next was tuna tartare with seaweed paste, onion creme fraiche and salmon roe. I’m not as big a fan of seaweed flavors as other folks, so I felt this dish would have been better without it. However I do appreciate the seasoning added by the paste.  The tartare itself was great quality, same with the roe. I really liked the thick, sweet and savory ponzu sauce, along with the creme fraiche, so I wanted a bit more of that with each bite. The tartare was served with some crispy sliced bread as well.

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This chawanmushi was amazing:

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It was served in a covered bowl (beside a small vase of flowers) and then revealed table-side, so you get to smell that great waft of egg and mushroom in a nice blast of steam.

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Look at the texture – like silken tofu, it was perfectly smooth and velvety. The shiitake mushroom flavor gave it a meaty quality as well. Earthy. Inside were some generous chunks of lobster and shrimp as well, which gave it a slight briney flavor. So good on a cold night.

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As a beef connoisseur, I was impressed by this next course. Filet Mignon with braised orange carrot confit (cooked for three hours in olive oil and orange juice, and then seasoned with cumin), asparagus tips, fig, and crispy fried potatoes. There was a port reduction sauce on top of a small puree of carrot as well, and some black garlic on the potatoes. Even a thinly shaved curl of asparagus as garnish, and a roasted tomato.

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At first glance you may think that there is too much going on here in this dish, but everything works really well together. Although this was a relatively sweet dish, the sweet of the carrot, port sauce and tomato are offset by the bitter of the cumin and garlic. The potato and asparagus gave it a nice texture of crunch, and the port wine sauce added some moisture and a little bit of pungent pop as well. As for the meat: cooked to a perfect medium rare with a peppered edge. Amazing.

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Next was some assorted tempura, served beautifully in a bamboo basket with some fried noodles as garnish.

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The basket included a macadamia-coconut crusted shrimp, green bean, shiso leaf and mixed veggie (squash/zucchini/sweet potato) items. The batter was light and crispy. No grease at all. There was a light soy-based dipping sauce and a small bowl of shaved salt for finishing. My favorite was the shrimp here – it was meaty and big, and expertly fried, unlike those monstrosity “Hawaiian shrimp” items you get at places like Applebee’s.

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Next we had some very lightly flavored brown rice green tea from a teapot that looked like a winking tiger or bear face when looking from top view. What animal do you see?

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Next was the sashimi course. This was a bit tough to photograph because of the glowing blue ice cube that was buried under the ice, but the plating was gorgeous. The fresh wasabi served with this was potent, and lots of little things placed on the ice were edible for balancing the flavors, like the kumquat to get some sweetness, or the shiso leaf for some green peppery punch, and of course the ginger for cleansing the palette.

There was a nicely dressed and fresh Kumomoto oyster sitting upon a little pillar made of ice, with scallions and sweet vinegar sauce.

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There was this yellow tail belly, which was super smooth and delicious:

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My favorite was the king salmon. So soft and flavorful. Beautiful color too:

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And a cured tuna with seared edges, peach sauce and Maui onion, then topped with some peppery micro greens.

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The last savory course of the evening was this delicious bowl of mixed seafood with a really tasty cajun lobster cream sauce. It reminded me of the food we had in New Orleans.

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I feel like each item worked better individually, that the dish didn’t really come together as a whole. But the execution on every item was pretty much perfect, with the small exception of the lobster tail meat. The claw meat was fine, but the tail was just a bit overcooked. Everything else was insanely delicious though, from the sauce to the edible flowers to the sweet corn and even the crispy cheese chip.

Check out this fried, stuffed squash blossom, stuffed with lobster meat, cabbage and ginger. This reminded me of a southeast Asian style egg roll:

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The scallop was something similar to what you’d find on a top rated Italian restaurant’s menu. It was buttery and perfect.

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And the uni was smooth and fresh. I never thought I’d like it warm like this, but it was so delicate and good.

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Perhaps if the ingredients were a bit more integrated, like in a soup or rice dish, this wouldn’t have felt disjointed. But that is a minor point about an otherwise amazing dish. I really loved it.

We tried two desserts. First was a caramel flan that was topped with grapefruit, pineapple and raspberry sorbet.

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I felt like we didn’t need the fruit, but the sorbet seemed to work nicely with the creamy and silky flan.

This bowl of green tea ice cream with sweet red beans on top was delicious.

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I think it may have been a bigger success with some chocolate crunchies or even candied coffee grinds instead of the lemon macaron, which sort of crumbled apart like cake when I bit into it. There was also some citrus from the blueberries and strawberries, but the yuzu gelee took it a little over the top for that flavor element. I know chocolate crunch, fresh strawberry and ice cream sounds a bit boring, but my taste buds were slightly confused by the sour elements. It certainly was interesting though, and the ice cream itself was texturally perfect.

I compliment Chef Ko for his inventive menu items. As you can tell, the plating at this place is really amazing; something to behold. Pictures don’t do the meal justice. You really have to just get over here and see/taste for yourself. There’s definitely something magical happening here at Fushimi. This is probably the best omakase kaiseki I’ve had – it easily beats out Megu, Ninja and other trendy, expensive places that I’ve been to.

FUSHIMI
475 Driggs Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211