237 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022
ALL THE WAY to Midtown East for a mediocre meal!
To be honest, I feel like we were tricked! Baited and switched! Menu and reviews indicated there would be a chef’s omakase for JUST sushi/sashimi. There was not!
We got there, and we immediately loved the space, very izakaya like, bar, dimly lit, bustling, just our speed! Super heavily Japanese based clientele, very promising. But the food… That’s where it fell “flat”, and that’s me being generous.
Our Meal Tonight:
- Chef: I couldn’t tell you! Never saw him. Those behind the bar did finishing touches only, didn’t cut or prepare one piece of fish, nor any dish for that matter.
- Fish Variety: Somewhat true to a bar/izakaya menu. A west coast oyster, 8 kinds of raw fish, and a bunch of other cooked (non sushi/sashimi) items.
- Sashimi Freshness & Preparation: Fail! Of the nine raw servings in total, one was horribly prepared (oyster), five super fishy, 2 poor quality UNIs, and 2 poorly aged servings. Yes, FAIL.
- Cooked Items: Better, but certainly not worth a the 40ish block hike (like 2.5 miles)!
- Cost: Food alone ran us $198. I suppose for 2 big ole oyster, 2 servings of sashimi, 4 appetizers and a steak to share, it’s not bad. Especially since they don’t accept tip. If you’re looking at the fish alone, 8 cuts of sashimi for 30 bucks, comes to roughly 3.75 per fish serving, which is pretty cheap. Knowing the quality, I wouldn’t go within a 5 foot pole to 7 of those 8 though…
- Ambiance: LOVED It. If it hadn’t been so far, if they moved downtown, I’d love to visit more often and have just snacks and drinks. Not fish…
Our Dinner Tonight:
- West Coast Oysters ($10 each) – HUGE. BUT… Are these the ugliest looking oysters or what? They look and TASTED OLD. Not stank or funky, but just old, and kept inappropriately. Oysters should be shucked and served with a little bit of the natural oyster juice (essentially just the sea water it was in). It can be even be pre-shucked (for up to, maybe a day?), so long as you keep it in oyster juices. But these are as dry as cardboard, and just WRONG. I cut mine in half, size and looks warranted it… Did not bother having the second half….
- Sashimi for 2 ($60):
- HOTATE (Scallop) – Fishy, fishy, fishy!
- SABA (Mackerel) – I don’t know how long SABAs are to be aged, or how to age them. BUT I’ve had maybe 2 SABAs in my life that I’ve enjoyed, meaning generally not a fan. This one tasted like the rest, not good, but not horrendous…
- NAMADAKO (Fresh Octopus) – Another super fishy cut. OMG, not happy!
- Hokkaido UNI (the one in the front) – Top level looks ok, but immediately beneath, real brown and slimy. This was not good.
- California UNI (the one behind the NAMADAKO) – Another poor quality UNI. BITTER!
- Chopped NEGI TORO (Fatty tuna with scallions) – RIDICULOUSLY FISHY. I smelled it, and had to FORCE a bite. We obviously did not finish this.
- KAMASU (Barracuda) – What is the name of the game tonight? You got it, FISHY!
- HIRAME (Fluke) – Not fishy, which given the meal thus far, would be considered a win. Bland, but it’s not like you expect HIRAMEs to come bursting with flavor. It’s just not a fish anyone really pines for though…
- Grilled Ayu ($10)– Given the type of restaurant this was, I had such high hopes for this. If you’ve had a proper grilled Ayu, it’s nicely toasted on the outside, thoroughly salted, and still super tender and moist on the inside. This wasn’t any of that.
- Duck Tartar ($20) – I was unaware you can have duck RAW! I somehow thought that all poultry falls in the same bucket, where you really should cook through. I have no idea why I would think that though… I had plenty a rare duck breast, just thoroughly seared on the skin only. I guess I just didn’t put the two and two together… This was one interesting dish. Flavors were fantastic, incredibly flavorful, but the duck was pretty chewy.
- Seared Beef Tongue ($20)– If you’ve ever had beef tongue, you know to expect it to be a bit chewy, with a tiny bit of crunch even. This one was again, over the top chewy, but real, real, flavorful. Seriously, if you don’t have a strong set of teeth, if your jaw can’t handle, just order one or the other, don’t attempt to do both, and I would go for the duck tartare.
- New York Strip Steak ($48)- Garbage! I get that this was a NY Strip, I get it’s not going to be a fatty, melt in your mouth, buttery cut, but this was just TOUGH, and tasteless. I already used up all my jaw muscle on the Duck Tartare and Beef Tongue, I’m tapping out…
- Jamon Iberico ($22)- You sit at the bar, you expect to see some action… Not only did we not see any slicing of fish, there was a big Jamon cutting board at the front of the bar (the contraption that holds the leg of the ham, and lets you carve), but nope! Not used. Our Jamon was precut, and already arranged on a plate covered in saran wrap. Not a usual dish to order from a Japanese eatery, I know… But we were still hungry, and had expected that to be a “safe” item. Wrong again!