69 Leonard Street
New York, NY 10013
I was chatting with an Instagram pal just a couple months ago, and he mentioned Chef Eiji Ichimura’s new location. I was like, what are you talking about? He moved? I googled, and Chef was in fact in Tribeca, so I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until an hour prior to our reservation, when I was googling the address, did I realize that chef really did move!
Wow how things have changed! Our last visit to Chef Ichimura was right over a year ago, in April of 2016, when they were still at Brushroke. I was actually right before the conception of SushiGirl.NYC. In Jan 2017, Chef moved out of Brushstroke and into his own dedicated space just a few blocks away. I have to say, same chef, but both the meal and the experience was night and day. Let’s count the ways:
- The space – I am sorry, but I have to say, I liked the old space better.
- Brushstroke had the high ceilings, the brighter lighting, the floor to ceiling windows, the décor, the “book-built” walls, and the adorable embedded miniature dioramas. Space was beautiful.
- The new space is rather dull. The waiting area is quite nice, bright and airy, with several cushioned benches for seating, and a larger than life vase with the real flowers.
- The room where they seat you for the meal is very different though. It’s 100% enclosed, walls, though textured, is 100% bare, and talk about monochrome! Everything is beige/khaki. When you’re in a windowless room, something is required. Some color or some art, anything.
- The atmosphere
- It’s more comfortable! It’s not nearly as stuffy as Brushstroke! You won’t feel a need to dress up, wear heels, or be “made up”, which is nice.
- The seating is first come first serve, meaning you get to pick whatever seat you want. Which is perfect for early comers like myself, we were FIRST, bonus! J
- The staff was super attentive, and very friendly, which for whatever reason, is no longer a guarantee despite what you are paying.
- Only real gripe is – not sure if it’s the acoustics in this room or if people have no common decency anymore, and believes everyone should hear their conversation, but out of 8 other patrons, we heard the convos of 6. Aren’t people obnoxious?
- The meal
- I was immensely happier with this meal as opposed to our meal back from April 2016. This was the reason why we haven’t made it a priority to revisit, even for the sake of SushiGirl.NYC
- I don’t have “proof”, a photo diary of our meal, but I have a really good memory. From what I recall, the meal was started with a number of cooked dishes, and then went heavily Tuna oriented, which I like, but it was so much, that I felt like I had mercury withdrawal after.
- I also recall it being A LOT of food in general. I’m a small girl, but I can EAT. Boyfriend is over a foot taller, and BUILT, but I can easily out-eat him. I remember having to tap out, because it was just too much.
- Today’s meal was had a much better “distribution” of fish categories, and only a few cooked servings, which I appreciate.
- Biggest complaint is that I did not leave “full”. I wanted to order extra pieces, but chef wasn’t having any of that. The moment he served our last piece, he immediately began cleaning and packing. He was gone within 60 seconds! (That was clearly not literal. HA!)
- The cost
- This was the biggest shocker – the omakase course went from $195 to a whopping $300
- $300 bucks for a 20 course meal comes out to be about $15 per piece, a bit steep if you ask me.
- The cost of alcohol for some reason, has gone down significantly! This is great for drinkers like us, it actually levels the cost back to what it used to be. But for those that really just go for the food, and have at most a beer or two, your bottom line is hit pretty hard.
Our Omakase tonigh:
- AOYAGI (Round orange/surf clam) – with white miso dressing and spring onions. There was a LOT of onion though, a bit spicier than I’d prefer, but overall, still great!!!
- HOTARU IKA (Firefly squid) – Not a fan. I love the raw form, but this deep fried version was really fishy.
- CHAWAN MUSHI – Made with shitake mushroom shrimp and scallop. Good, but not great, I’ve had much better CHAWAN MUSHI before…
- Sashimi Platter:
- KATSUO (Bonito) Sashimi – KATSUO is not my fish, in all my sushi-ing, there is ONE time that I truly enjoyed it. That was at KURUMA ZUSHI. This one was just an average KATSUO, so not all that and a bag of chips. (no idea where I got that term from, but it stuck)
- MADAI (Seabream) Sashimi – This was amaze balls! Beautiful save from the mediocre KATSUO.
- NAMADAKO (Live octopus) Sashimi – This is one of the least chewy cuts of NAMADAKO I’ve ever had. So tender, so delicious!
- TOKOBUSHI (Abalone) Sashimi – TOKOBUSHI from Seattle simmered in sake. For a simmered item, this was just the right chew, and highly commendable!
- Tile fish marinated with miso – mashed potato with apricot purée. Very good, but so happy that this was the last cooked serving of the night!
- KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – Lovely!!! Chef’s rice is FANTASTIC!
- SAKURA-MASU (Cherry Salmon from Hokkaido) – Usually not a fan, but this one was delish!
- SHIRO KISU (Whiting) – This was good but a little too fishy. To be honest, I have had much better KISU before…
- SAWARA (Spanish mackerel) – I typically don’t love this fish, but this was very good!
- KOHADA (Gizzard Shad) – Another slightly fishy fish. Though I’m still generally VERY happy with my meal, this was my third fishier than usual fish of the night…
- SHIMA AJI (Striped Jack) – thank goodness, this one was very good.
- MIRUGAI (Giant clam) – Super crunch! This was a delectable piece of fish, with just the right ocean tinge. One of the highlights of the night thus far!
- SHIRO EBI (Sweet white shrimp) – Another beautiful piece. Perfect!
- AKAMI ZUKE – Just as I remembered, Chef Ichimura does Tunas impeccably well. We watched him re-marinate the AKAMI at the very start of the meal, but he waited till now to serve. It was really, very good.
- AJI (Horse mackerel) – Our fourth silver serving of the night, and this was the best yet! It feels like Chef saves his best for last…
- CHUTORO (medium fatty tuna) – Back to the Tunas, what Chef is known for. Chef’s TOROs just melts in your mouth, and does not leave that nasty film of oil. How he does it is beyond me! This was really fantastic.
- HOTATE (Scallop) – Beautiful cut, with the perfect taste of the sea, and a lovely crunch!
- HOKKAIDO UNI – There’s been a serious shortage of UNI this year. Last year, every joe-some restaurant will serve decent UNI. This year, you are only guaranteed when you go to the top tier restaurants, so sad. This was delish!
- OTORO (super fatty tuna) – Another beautiful Chef Ichimura creation, three layers of incredible super fatty tuna that has zero veins, and a no funky aftertaste, no nasty oily film in your mouth. He’s fantastic.
- MISO SOUP
- Dessert – I’m not a huge fan of sweets, so you have to be really incredible to wow me. This was just ok.
This was a GREAT meal, but expensive. Boyfriend doesn’t like to admit it, but we actually spent less now that the meal is $300 per person as opposed to the old $195 per person. Reason is two-fold. Reason one, the alcohol, we usually drink a solid 2 bottles of sake. Brushstroke only carries the super pricey Junmai Daiginjo, like $250 per bottle, but Ichimura would carry those that run about $100. Reason two, and the real “bargain”, is that new Ichimura does not accept tips. I hate comparing, but if you are ok spending $300 per person, AND you don’t drink much, I would go to Ginza Onodera instead, who also does not accept tips. Note that Ginza Onodera has a very healthy markup on sake though, so drinkers beware!