It’s been almost 3 months since our beloved Chef Takahashi’s departure from BLUE RIBBON IZAKAYA in Lower East Side. He left to join BLUE RIBBON SUSHI on Sullivan. If you’ve ready my previous write up on BLUE RIBBON SUSHI, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan. Two MAJOR dings on Blue Ribbon Sushi. One, they are always packed, yet they do not take reservations. Who doesn’t take reservations? And in a city swarming with restaurants, who is willing to stand in line for 30-40 minutes? If you get over that part, waited them out, then there’s ding number two, the lack of a real omakase. They only do omakase platters. If you want an omakase platter, there are a few places great for that, at a fraction of the Blue Ribbon Sushi price. I wouldn’t come here for the platter.
When we visited Chef on his last day at IZAKAYA, and he said to give him a few months to get settled, and he will bring back the “real” omakase to Blue Ribbon Sullivan. So we not-so-patiently waited, and waited…
We arrived right before 7PM. The host said it will be roughly 30-40 minutes, which really means 40-50 minutes. They don’t have a bar, but do have a waiting area with just a few seats, where they will allow you to order a drink while you wait. If it wasn’t for allowing us to drink while we wait, if it wasn’t for having already said hello to the chef, we would have probably threw in the white flag. We polished off a full bottle while we were waiting. That’s how long it took!
After finally being seated, we were served a TRUE omakase:
Small Plates & Sashimi:
- Oyster/UNI/Quail Egg Sake shooter with TOBIKO and scallions – yummy…
- HOTARU IKA (Firefly squid) with miso glaze, and KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) with sea salt – delicious!
- Seafood CHAWAN MUSHI with BUNASHIMEJI mushrooms – they make really fantastic CHAWAN MUSHI, but when we had this at Izakaya, we always had something fresh to go with this, a ZUWAI-GANI (snow crab), or fresh UNI…
- Whole Live HOTATE (Scallop) and AJI (Horse Mackerel) – served with a scallop liver sauce (left), and a ginger, scallion ponzu (right). Both very good.
- Grilled TARABA GANI (red king crab) served with a DAISHI sauce. I suppose it was ok, it stuck to the shell a bit, didn’t slide off…
- Sashimi Platter:
- SHIMA AJI (Striped jack) – My most favorite of the yellowtails. Super fresh, beautiful crunch
- CHUTORO (Medium Fatty Tuna) – Lovely vein less, non-chewy, delicious cut
- Blue Fin AKAMI (Lean Tuna) – I sometimes feel like the odd man out with Tunas. Everyone else seems to think, the fattier the better, I’m not a huge fan of OTORO (super fatty tuna), more so a CHUTORO (medium fatty tuna), but sometimes, I almost prefer a good Blue Fin AKAMI (lean tuna). Really good!
- Deep fried UNI, HOTATE, SHISO, NORI rice-less roll – My most favorite thing that chef makes! Something that no one else does, deep frying this UNI/HOTATE/SHISO combo with no rice, to a magnificent crunch, but where everything is still completely raw. Outstanding!
- NODOGURO (Blackthroat) – Served with fresh yuzu zest, and sea salt. NODOGURO is seriously climbing the white fish charts for me. MADAI, KINMEDAI, and AKAMUTSUs being on top right now, but NODOGURO might tie out with the AKAMUTSU…
- MIRUGAI (Giant geoduck clam) – I recently learned that not very many sushiyas stock MIRUGAIs, that it’s gotten to be very expensive lately. Who knew. This one was fantastic!
- SHIROEBI (baby white shrimp) – It was getting late, and my sake goggles were in full effect. I couldn’t tell from afar if it was IKA or EBI, but boyfriend did! He’s quite the sushi connoisseur these days. LOVE me some SHIRO EBI!
- OTORO ABURIed – I need to talk to some chefs and understand the purpose of ABURIing (torching). Is it to cut the fat? Or yield more of it? When they ABURI my OTORO, I feel like it makes the fat all melty and yummy. Versus when it’s not ABURIed, I often feel like it leaves a film of grease in my mouth. BUT, when they ABURI my KINMEDAI (golden eye snapper), I feel like it makes it fattier, and tastier. What gives?
- HOKKAIDO UNI – What an epic fail of a year for Santa Barbara uni. In the past, it was what we looked forward to, this year, HOKKAIDO and Maine kicked Santa Barbara’s a*s. Too many restaurants, sushi and non, now incorporates UNI into their menus. It’s made Santa Barbara outrageously expensive, and for whatever reason, diminished the quality. Booo!
- MIRUGAI sashimi – time for repeats, and yes, it was THAT good!
- IKURA (Salmon roe) – I have to say, you know I love Chef. His IKURA needs work though. While the IKURA pearls are still beautifully large non-crushed kernels, but it needs better marination…
- CHUTORO and TAKUAN hand roll – Always a fantastic last piece!
Now that Chef Takahashi has arrived, Blue Ribbon Sushi is getting there… We ended up getting the “special card” to make a reservation, so at least issue number one is solved. The meal itself still needs work, the omakase is at least a true omakase. BUT there are still negative differences… We’ll be back though. For sure!