Visited in July 2016
119 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012
It’s past 3PM on a July 4th weekend. Where does one go for sushi? The options are pretty limited. Most of the fancy sushi-yas, will wrap up their lunch seatings at 2, 2:30 latest. Tomoe, an everyday sushi-ya, does its last seating at 2:45. Now what? Trusty Blue Ribbon to the rescue! Not MY Blue Ribbon, not BLUE RIBBON IZAKAYA, but Blue Ribbon Sushi. Blue Ribbon Sushi used to be my favorite sushi-ya, but that was a LONG time ago. Shortly after I graduated college, I made my first visit to Sushi Yasuda, back when Naomichi Yasuda still reigned, back when there were very few high quality sushi-yas in NYC. That was when I first learned what true omakase was. Since then, I go to Blue Ribbon Sushi not for true omakase, but for the unpretentious, simple, impeccably fresh fish, at a great value, especially during off hours. They are open from noon till 2AM!
That said, to stay true to being objective in my reviews, I ordered the omakase anyway. Talk about sacrifice! What a team player I am! At Blue Ribbon Sushi, despite whether you sit at the bar, or not, you will be served an omakase-PLATE, as opposed to traditional omakase where they provide you the individual servings/pieces. Not to sound high-maintenance, but this really does make a huge difference. The attention to detail, the preparation, the dressings, they all fall short when compared to a true omakase.
- SASHIMI (starting from the left side only, top to bottom, left to right, then the big leaf guy, then the whole fish):
- AKAMI ZUKE – I’m usually a pretty big fan of marinated AKAMI. And this was fine, but it just wasn’t “great”. It wasn’t not-fresh, nor was it not-marinated-enough. Just something off…
- SHIMAAJI – Same deal, I’m usually a very big fan of SHIMA AJI. It’s actually my favorite of the yellowtails, but again, something was off. Beginning to wonder if the cuts are just too thick? But I LOVE Tomoe, and they have HUGE, thick cuts. So why not this?
- KINMEDAI – My top three of the white fishes. Problem is, this is the one and only white fish I like heavily ABURIed, yet it wasn’t ABURIed at all. It’s a huge, thick cut of fish, which you would think score! BUT that wasn’t how I felt. I’d almost prefer if they gave me a half portion, if prepared properly.
- KANPACHI (amberjack) – My second favorite of the yellowtails. So here I am, complaining about the last three cuts of fish, speculating that it was just cut too thick. Yet, the KANPACHI, cut just as thick, was perfectly delectable! I guess I was wrong.
- SAKURA-MASU – If you read my sushi-guide, or any of my other reviews, you will quickly see that I’m simply not a fan of salmons. The SAKURA-MASU is a cherry salmon. It looked fine, but unfortunately, I can’t talk to this fish at all. My dear cousin Amy says it was really good though. Since she wasn’t a fan of the yellowtails, I traded my salmon for both her yellowtails. Ok, come on! Write up or no write up, who wouldn’t make that trade?
- HAMACHI SUNAZURI – Super thick cuts of this super fresh, thoroughly enjoyable fish. The HAMACHI SUNAZURI is a super fatty, and much milder yellowtail. The SHIMA AJI and KANPACHI are stronger, more silver-fish-ish fishes. Thus, no more trading. Plus, I had nothing left to trade with. We both loved it!
- HIRAMASA – This was the super thinly sliced white colored fish on the big green leaf. It’s another yellowtail, it’s actually a yellowtail amberjack. Served with a tiny dollop of jalapeno pepper sauce. It was fantastic, but come on! Four yellowtails on one plate?
- AJI – In NYC, this is an extremely reliable, but easily obtainable fish, so while I love to order it at my everyday sushi-yas, I don’t always love having it as part of my omakase. HOWEVER, if they are going to serve it to me whole, that means a whole lot of it, and we get the fried bone later! In that case, how can anyone complain? In my recent trips to the newer sushi-yas, they serve AJI sliced super duper thin. Clearly, if you look at the picture, it was fairly thickly cut. This was very fresh, very delicious. We both devoured it very quickly.
- SUSHI (From top to bottom, left to right)
- OTORO – Upper left corner, is the OTORO. This was super fresh piece of OTORO, and a great piece of fish for an omakase. I’m just that odd individual that prefers a CHUTORO, as the OTORO is just a little too fatty for me. If there is such a thing.
- MEBARU – Finally another white fish! MEBARUs, a black rockfish, are not an expensive fish varietal, but they are typically harder to find in NYC, so if it’s good, I love having it. This was good!
- NEGITORO – Perfectly respectable roll for an omakase, problem is, in an omakase, I really, REALLY want my NORI warm and crunchy. Not where you rolled it with warm rice, and had it sit on the counter for 5-10 min already, so it’s mushy. Eh…
- HOKKAIDO UNI – Lately, I’ve been having pretty mediocre, to downright BAD UNI. Read SHUKO as an example. Something with the Blue Ribbon chain. No matter the season, they ALWAYS have fantastic UNI. If this was winter, it wouldn’t be the “absolute most” (new term I picked up from EJ NYC on E – HA! I watch too much TV), but given we’re in the start of July, this is pretty darn good!
- SPICY LOBSTER ROLL – Another reminder that I’m not at my favorite blue ribbon. At Blue Ribbon Izakaya, though a bit pricier (almost 50% more for the omakase), I get the “Lobster three ways”, raw lobster sashimi, cooked lobster chunks with the brains as a roll topped with miso butter, and the claws. Here I get a run-of-the-mill “spicy lobster roll”. So not impressed.
- TAZMANIAN SEA TROUT – Remember how I said I’m not a fan of salmons? I typically do prefer the TAZMANIAN SEA TROUT more than his fancy big brothers the SAKURA-MASU or the NIJIMASU. Reason? It taste more like plain old, super fatty, farm raised salmon. Fortunately/unfortunately, cousin Amy and I have been chatting the clock away, and I’m now starting to feel full. Of the fishes remaining, it was just lower on the totem pole, so didn’t bother. Again, cousin Amy said it was very good though.
- SMOKED YELLOWTAIL – OK, come on! Another yellowtail? And this one is smoked? I’m not a fan of smoked fishes in my omakase. Not at all! Another item I didn’t bother with tasting. Unless you’re going to give me some cream cheese, capers and a bagel, the smell of smoke fish is just not my thing, there was no objective way for me to write anything on it anyway, so I give up.
To be perfectly objective, this reviewed was doomed from the start. I go Blue Ribbon Sushi, because they have a crazy variety of super fresh fish, all at really great price points. Today, I ordered the Omakase, knowing that I don’t love their omakases, knowing their omakase shortfalls. But for the amount of fish you get at the crazy low price point of $85, it’s pretty unbeatable. My complaint about the sashimi round is too heavy on the yellowtails, not enough of everything else. My complaint abt the sushi round is the smoked yellowtail and the run of the mill “lobster roll”. My complaint about the overall omakase was not a good enough distribution, the not so great lobster roll was my one and only shell fish. No shrimps, squids, octopus, one or two shell clams. See? Not a little bit of everything like I prefer. BUT, if you don’t mind that, go for it! OR be like me! You wouldn’t know it based upon this review, but I LOVE this restaurant, I just order a la carte, and all is good.