24 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011
If you’ve been reading my posts, you probably know by now that boyfriend and I have an addiction to sushi. Tonight, Cousin Amy, her husband, and boyfriend and I decided to have a double date, and spend some quality catch-up time together. Cousin Amy has a strange aversion to sushi for some reason, and it’s like pulling teeth to get her to OK sushi. So we did the next closest thing, Japanese Tapas. It’s always good to go with a bunch of people, you get to try more plates. Surprisingly, we really didn’t end up eating that much. All the plates, whether it be a Tapas or a main, all seemed to be the same size. Note that it’s not advertised as a Tapas restaurant, I just called it that since the majority of their menu is small plates.
I can imagine Saikai being a bustling eatery, with the tables packed, but on this summer evening, it was dead. We were the firsts to arrive, and we closed down the place. While we were there, there were a total of 7 other tables that came and left. That was it, 8 tables all night. NYC is a ghost town in the summer, but this is really dead. Saikai, if you’re taking suggestions, install some TVs in the bar area! That along with your decent list of sake by the glass, this would be a great place to come and just hang.
Overall, the space is decent, the menu is ample, food is good, the sake mark ups are low, and the service is great, the staff plenty friendly. Which reminds me, they were kind enough to offer us several rounds of FREE sake. I mean we did just order 3 bottles and 4 carafes, but cousin Amy and her hubby did have a few beers, but it was a nice gesture, making us feel super welcomed. That’s what keeps people coming back. So let’s hope it sticks around for us to return!
Our à la carte dinner tonight:
- Grilled Shishito $7 – Shishito peppers are a mild, sweet, and crunchy pepper. If you enjoy them, you will love this dish! A couple were overly charred and a couple were unusually spicy though…
- Smoked Miso Foie Gras $8 – Nothing to write home about. The presentation was pretty cool. You unveil the glass enclosure, and a nice fizzy smoke comes out, leading us to believe the foie gras would be somewhat warm, but it was cold. The apple caramel was too sweet, too much, overpowered the foie gras.
- Garlic Brussel sprouts $9 – Super flavorful! Good job!
- Sashimi Tasting $26 (from left to right, bottom row first), Ocean Trout, HIRAME (Fluke), HOTATE (Scallop), BURI (Adult Yellowtail), OTORO (Super Fatty Tuna), and BOTAN EBI (Spotted Sweet Shrimp). Nothing was stellar, but for a non-sushi-ya, all servings were good enough. If we didn’t preorder the many, many dishes, I probably could have done a repeat.
- Wagyu Beef Tartare $18 – Wagyu beef is supposed to be melt in your mouth fattiness. There was NOTHING fatty about this beef. The flavor was great, super tasty, but then again beef doesn’t require much flavoring. Egg cream dollops added nothing to this dish.
- Grilled Aged Duck Breast $19 – So happy that cousin Amy insisted on this. I would probably not have ordered this had she not been there. It was VERY GOOD. We weren’t asked how we want this served, yet it was rare, and very good. Loved the fatty, crunchy skin. Delish! The plating was irritating though. At least put a decorative smear of some sort!
- Braised Short Ribs $18 – Very good flavoring, not enough braising. You shouldn’t ever have to cut into a braised short rib, the meat should melt with a small nudge of the fork. No melting here. I would pass on this dish.
- UNI Pasta $24 – Looked so pretty, seemed so promising, but what a let-down, what a disaster. This is for sure, boxed fettuccine. The flavoring was more alfredo than uni made into a sauce. Double pass.
- Kumamoto Oysters $18.50 – Served with a ponzu dressing, which I liked. The oysters themselves were fine, not super plump, not super sweet, but good enough.
- We wrapped up with a bunch of hand rolls, but after 3 bottles of sake, and a couple of carafes in (between just boyfriend and I), I got a little fast and loose with the photography. Or as boyfriend would so delicately put it, I sh*t the bed. Isn’t he a gem? J He really is. We just have a different way of expressing our love. J J J We had the NEGITORO, Scallop Truffle, and Salmon Ikura. I don’t remember what I thought of the quality of the fish, I just remember thinking, gee, this NORI is incredibly soggy.