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63 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003
Refer also to our Omakase – May 2017 Posting

I know no one reads older posts the moment a newer post gets published on the same restaurant.  But for ISE, and if you were looking for a sushi meal, it is imperative that you do read my previous post.  My previous post was on the omakase experience, while today’s post is purely on the bar experience.  We went in for snacks, not a full meal.  Entirely different perspective!  I specifically did not do ratings for today’s meal, as it would be misrepresentative of the sushi experience, and this is supposed to be a sushi-blog…

ISE has a LOVELY bar.  It’s located right in the entryway of ISE, fairly separated off from the main restaurant, fairly isolated.  They offer the FULL menu, both drinks and food, minus the omakase.  So if you like the food offered at ISE, the bar is a great place that doesn’t require reservations, so no need for early commitment.  Although, it’s generally not too hard getting reservations at ISE anyway.

Boyfriend and I somehow landed on a Friday night with no reservations anywhere, and thought we try our luck at ISE.  Perhaps it was the rain, but ISE was very quiet.  Not many people at the bar or the main restaurant.  With just 4 other bar patrons, we had our pick of seats.  I really have zero complaints on their bar, well, maybe one.  The lack of a TV.  ISE would be a perfect bar should they have a TV.

We have actually been discussing buying ISE a TV, so we can go there to watch games.  This just shows how few Japanese bars we have in NYC with TVs for sports, how desperate we are.  The ONLY one we know of is Jebon on Saint Marks.  All we’re looking for is just decent sake and some Japanese eats, a few things of sushi/sashimi, some grilled meats, and we’re happy.  If you know bars with TVs other than Jebon, please share!!!

That said, here’s what we snacked on tonight:

  1. JIDORI SHIO – JIDORI is a specific breed of highest end chicken that is treated with the utmost care. They are fed strictly fruits and vegetables rather than the ordinary grains and seeds.  Kind of like the KOBE cow!  In Japan, quality JIDORI is served not only as grilled meats, but also as sashimi!  I’m still leery on that idea, but this grilled JIDORI was good, very, very good. 
  2. HOTARU IKA (Firefly squid) with WASABI SHOYU – Not the highest quality HOTARU IKA, but best I have ever had at a bar!
  3. ENGAWA (Fluke fin) Ponzu – Again, NOT BAD! Clearly not treated with as much care as when you get it served as part of your omakase, but very good.  They even gave us the sun side of the ENGAWA!  Good stuff!
  4. TOKOBUSHI (Abalone) Appetizer – Sliced super thin, and served with its liver. Another very decent serving.
  5. Oyster Ponzu – Of the 4 oysters, 2 were very good, and 2 were really not so good. Why do you even bother plating when you open up and they look like they are mal-nutritioned?  If it was all the quality of the two plump ones, we would have had many more.  We are huge oyster fans.  We did once have 8 dozens in a sitting after all. 
  6. ANKIMO (Monkfish Liver) Ponzu – Oooh, this one was not so good. Not at all. 
  7. AJI (Japanese horse mackerel) Appetizer – Good stuff! They even went and fried the AJI bones for us. 
  8. CHIRASHI – ISE’s CHIRASHI consisted of the UNI/IKURA rice bowl, and a bowl-ish of assorted sashimi. The rice here was really not the quality rice you would want for sushi.  But the IKURA and UNI were passable, and MOST of the SASHIMI was OK as well.  I don’t think I’d order this bowl again in the future though.
  9. Soft shell crab over soba – Really buttery and garlicy. And really good!

Overall Thoughts:

ISE – PLEASE get a TV and the sports package!  We would be there all the time if you had that!