If you haven’t figured out by now, we are avid lovers of Chef Tsuyoshi Takahashi at Blue Ribbon Izakaya. For the purposes of this blog, we’ve had to space out our trips here, to make room for sub-par sushi-yas that other lists/blogs claim as the “best of” of New York City sushi. How little they know… And I try not to bore you with repeat, upon repeat of Izakaya posts, but chef really does manage to give us new and exciting things each time we come. So it would be unjust to post just that one time. Know what I mean, jelly bean? I’ll keep this post short though, and focus on our new delicious servings!
Our small plates:
- Shot Glass #1 – ENGAWA (fluke fin) mixed with thinly sliced shiso, cucumber, MOMIJI OROSHI (Grated Daikon Radish marinated with red chili pepper), in a light ponzu sauce. This was absolutely delicious!
- Shot Glass #2 – Grilled IKA (Squid) mixed with bean curd and chopped cucumber. I’m not a huge fan of grilled/cooked items, but this was still very, very good.
- Shot Glass #3 – AOYAGI (surf clam) mixed with greens, radish and TOBIKO. Really delish!
- “Live” HOTATE – Chef essentially gives us one whole Live HOTATE (Scallop) and one whole order or Live ISE EBI (lobster), but splits it upon two plates so we are not reaching over each other. I failed to photograph, but the HOTATE is served with the HOTATE liver sauce, which is really delicious.
- ISE EBI prepared 3 ways – This along with the LIVE UNI are the two things that boyfriend dreams about. Not me, but UNI and ISE EBI. The head, spine and claws of the lobster are boiled, while the tail is left as sashimi. Lobster sashimi is really delightful when it is live/super fresh. You don’t need much at all, not even any citrus, just a tiny bit of light soy and you’re good. The boiled brains, spine, less meaty part of the claw are combined into a roll, wrapped in the egg paper, while the meaty part of the boiled claw is left as is. Both the roll and the claw are served with a MISO butter dipping sauce which is out of this world amazing. Chef claims that this butter is truly just melted butter combined with MISO paste and a little bit of rice wine. I NEED to try to make this at home!!!
- “Live” Maine UNI – When I said Boyfriend dreams about the Live UNI from Izakaya, I meant the Santa Barbara UNI, not the Maine. Fall is prime UNI season in Maine, so while UNI season is just beginning in Santa Barbara, when served “Live”, it is more likely Maine than Santa Barbara for now. BOOOOOO!!! Problem with Maine UNI is that no matter how fresh, and how “good” the chef claims it to be, it is never as good as a “decent” Hokkaido or Santa Barbara UNI. Maine UNIs always have a very distinct funky aftertaste, that you don’t find with the others. Overall verdict, while not my cup of tea, this was great for Maine UNI.
- NAMADAKO – I LOVE Chef Takahashi’s NAMADAKO (live octopus), LOVE! He slices it thick portion of the tentacle beautifully thin, and then lightly grills the lends of the tentacle and suction cups. Always delicious!
- KUMAMOTO Oyster – I apologize for such a poor picture! I don’t know how this happened! Izakaya never “features” oysters, usually not on the menu for ordering. The few they have, is ALWAYS good, and always thrown in as part of their omakases.
- “Brow fish” – Chef clearly stated this was “brow fish, like GINDARA”. No idea what a brow fish is, even googled, but found nothing. GINDARA is actually a sable fish, a mild, meaty whitefish. Boyfriend said that brow fish should be called “fish with no taste”. He’s somewhat accurate, this was beyond mild, almost tasteless.
- Simmered TORO – Super fatty, and ok, but again, I’m just not a huge fan of cooked foods in my omakase.
- HAGASHI TORO – One of my favorite cuts of TORO that is never on the menu, but almost always available at Izakaya. HAGASHI TORO, unlike the other TOROs do not come from the belly of the Tuna, but instead, from the tail. A super labor intensive effort cut of the Tuna, the HAGASHI TORO is extremely pretty limited, but Chef Takahashi will share one with you if you’re having the omakase AND he really likes you. Absolutely marvelous!
- NODOGURO – So similar to my AKAMUTSU, but so distinctly different. NODOGUROs are black throats, really light, a denser of the white fishes, but still super light and refreshing if prepared properly. Served with some sea salt, and a drizzle of fresh yuzu, marvelous.
- SANMA – SANMAs (Pacific Saury) are one of my favorite and priciest of the silvers! Chef served it with finely chopped ginger, daikon radish, and scallion. It should be a crime to serve it any other way!
- “Live” BOTAN EBI – Large spotted sweet shrimps, live and otherwise, are super widely available in the city. I’ve always wondered, how difficult is it to time it so that you can serve it with the head already deep fried? The frying takes all of 60 seconds, why is it that we get them served separately 99% of the time? Love Chef’s BOTAN EBI!
- OTORO ABURI – OTORO (super fatty) tuna ABURIed (torched), and served with a less spicy than usual yuzu pepper. Another marvelous cut and preparation!
- KINTOKIDAI – A super light white fish served with yuzu salt. Usually of my favorites, but today, a small notch lower than the NODOGURO, but still super delish!
- HOKKAIDO UNI – This was a GOOD UNI from Hokkaido. As I stated before, a good Hokkaido UNI is always miles better than a great Maine UNI. DELISH!
- SANTA BARBARA UNI – This was a super good Santa Barbara Uni, not great, but better than just good or even very good. DELISH! I love this time of the year! When all three commonly found UNIs are available! Only time better is winter, prime California UNI season. I can go with one less type, variety is overrated, quality over quantity baby!
- IKURA – Salmon eggs! Are you an IKURA fan? I found that people weigh IKURA and UNI the same… A love/hate relationship. You never just like either or, you either love it, or you want nothing to do with it. We both LOVE IKURA, but given that it’s not hard to get great IKURA in NYC, so we rarely get/ask for it with Chef. Honestly, I can just sit here and nosh on an entire bowl of IKURA after tapping out, claiming to be full. Really fantastic.
- NEGITORO Hand Roll – Made with OTORO (super fatty tuna) rather than CHUTORO (medium fatty tuna). GREAT end to the night. I was so stuffed that I almost didn’t finish my handroll. But who am I kidding! Ate every last delectable bite!