130 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
We’ll get to the restaurant and food in a minute, I need to scream this out first. I MET MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY!!!! At our very last piece, he walked in, and parked immediately to the right of me. Boyfriend tells me, that was Matthew McConaughey. As usual, I assumed he was just messing around, and laughed him off. He turns to Matthew McConaughey, and says “Hi Matthew,” Matthew graciously responds “Hi guys”. Boyfriend continues the dialogue, sharing how I didn’t believe it was really him, and again, Matthew responds with a simple, yet gracious, “It’s really me”. I, the blubbering idiot turns my head back to my boyfriend, and squeals “Oh my God! He really does talk like that!!!” “That” was in reference to his thick Texan accent. We ended up ordering some more sake so we can hang out for a little while longer, and chatted Matt up a little bit more. I can’t tell you exactly what we chatted about, it’s a bit of a blur to me now. I can tell you though, that we ended the chat with me insulting his preferences in Sushi Yas. UGH! There’s a reason why I leave chatting to strangers to the boyfriend. Matthew really enjoys Gari, and I’m just not a fan. I have perpetual “foot in mouth” syndrome! I am a walking disaster! Oh well… onto the food and restaurant!
Over the years, I’ve been to Sushi of Gari only a handful of times. Other than my very first visit, all other visits were based on a friend or coworker’s request. I have never left happy. UNTIL TODAY! But that was solely because of Matthew! (And he actually allowed for a joint photo, but not sharing that!)
When you eat at Sushi of Gari, you have to know what you are signing up for. Sushi of Gari loves to dress up the fish in all sorts of fanciness (or if you want to be less kind, theatrics). The dressings tend to overshadow the fish, where you can barely make out what kind of fish it was, much less if it was any fresh. If the fish is good, you want to highlight and enhance the flavors, not mask it. You’ll see what I mean in this very first fish…
- TAI Salad – Official description from Gari – Japanese Red Snapper topped with Seasoned Baby Greens, Roasted Pine Nuts, and Crispy Lotus Root with a hint of Wasabi Olive Oil. I had to eat the Lotus Root separately, I mean, no one’s mouth is THAT big. This was a really refreshing bite, thoroughly enjoyable. But to be honest, I can’t tell you if the TAI was any good. It was drowning in all the dressings. At the end of this post, you’ll see my ratings explanations, and will see that on average, each piece of fish was over eleven bucks. Again, this was a thoroughly enjoyable bite, BUT, would you pay $12 for one bite of salad? I wouldn’t.
- OTORO – EDOMAE style fish…. Ahhh… the beauty in simplicity… Now this is well worth $12 bucks! Underpriced even! This was a beautifully super fatty piece of fish. Delicious with no funky lingering tinge that lesser Tunas come with. Lovely!
- ZUWAI GANI UNI – Official description from Gari – Blow-torched Shabu Shabu Style Snow Crab topped with Sea Urchin Sauce. Another thoroughly enjoyable bite. And another piece that I could not tell was fish. Really enjoyable because it was so buttery, and who doesn’t love butter? I love miso, but the miso was also very mild. Same deal, really tasty, but just couldn’t tell this was fish, and certainly couldn’t tell if the fish was at all fresh.
- Smelt – I will gladly chow down on a McDonald’s Filet O Fish any day! In fact, no joke, I really was craving one just a couple of days ago. I ended up having fried chicken instead. I take that as a win! That said, while I love fried goodies, including fish, if I’m going to have it as part of my Omakase, there better be something special about it. Like my deep fried UNI/HOTATE sandwich that was still raw despite having been deep fried from BLUE RIBBON IZAKAYA. There was NOTHING special about this fish! I would have fared better with a 3 dollar sandwich from McDonalds!
- TACHUIO – I really enjoy TACHUIO, and it’s still in season, so I had high hopes. Hopes that it would be as good as SUSHI YASUDA’s. Silly rabbit! This was a bomb! This was downright bitter. Not a good fish/cut. BAD JOB. One for four so far, not looking good!
- AKAMUTSU – Thank goodness, back to the simpler items! AKAMUTSUs are one of my favorite fishes, so I’m a bit more particular. Preparation wise, this was good, touch of citrus, touch of soy. I prefer touch of citrus and touch of salt, but this was good enough! Quality of fish, CHEWY. AKAMUTSUs should not be so chewy!
- SALMON YAKI TOMATO – Official description from Gari – Fresh Salmon topped with Sweet Onion Sauce and Seared Tomato – better than you would think. Back in the days that I enjoyed a good SALMON, I used to HATE this, HATED people messing with my fresh fish. Now that I’m no longer a fan of SALMONs I’m welcoming the dressing! I really enjoyed this, but SALMON lovers beware, you can’t taste much salmon.
- HOTATE with plum sauce – It’s really hard to mess up HOTATE, it’s available everywhere, and we’re in New York City! This one was good, but not fantastic. And I have no idea what the “plum” sauce was supposed to add. Where possible, I take a two bite approach, one with dressing, one without. The one without the dressing (plum sauce) was much better.
- Aji – Dressed with creamy miso sauce and chopped scallions. Prime time AJI season, and this one was fresh. Same deal, with my two bite method, bite one without the miso sauce was great, bite two with, not so much. I am really not a fan of these dressings…
- KINMEDAI with dried seaweed – I have been robbed!!! Seaweed overkill! You can’t tell, but this piece was outrageously small. I could not do my two bite method. So one bite it was. My KINEMEDAI, one of my top three most favorite whitefishes, could not be tasted, much less had any time to shine.
- HAMACHI BELLY with Tomato – Yay! I was hoping for another salad! Can you sense the sarcasm? Well sense it, cuz I’m laying it on THICK! I tried, but this was so messy, that there was no way to do a two biter on this. Just like the TAI salad, this was very fresh tasting, very good, but could not at all taste the fish. No one pays 12 bucks for one bite of salad!
- SHIROEBI with carviar – Another deceiving picture. This morsel was MAYBE the size of a quarter, one of the tiniest sushi offering I’ve ever had. Whiplash from SHUKO! Clearly, there was no chance of two bites here. In my one bite, I can tell that the SHIROEBI was very decent. The caviar however, was not as great.
- MAGURO TOFU RAYU – Official description from Gari – Lean Blue Fin Tuna topped with Creamy Tofu Puree and Sesame Chili Oil – A normal sized sushi! Yay! (A real yay, not a sarcastic one) The AKAMI was very good, very fresh, very tasty. Zero idea what the Sesame Chili Oil Tofu was about. And I have no bias to Sesame Chili Oil OR TOFU. I love Szechuan food, and that oil is in every dish! But did not like that on my fish not one bit!
- SHIMA AJI JALAPENO – SHIMA AJI topped with Jalapeño sauce – Although the jalapeño sauce was very spicy, it did not overwhelm the fish, did not leave any sort of lingering yuck in my mouth. This one was good.
- KOHADA – Official description from Gari – Silver Shad with mint, onion, and pine nuts. KOHADA is one of my favorite silverfishes, really high up there. This one was a complete miss. It was treated for way too long, almost curing the fish! The mint helped a little but could not mask it. What a waste.
- HIRAME TRUFFLE – Official description from Gari – Blow-torched Fresh Fluke topped with Sweet Onion Sauce, poached Quail’s Egg, and White Truffle Oil. HIRAME ABURIed, Poached Quail Egg, and Truffle Oil, all three things I love, yet why when put together, I’m not over the moon swooning? Moderation is key. This was SWIMMING in truffle oil. Truffle oil is very, very strong. You don’t need much, otherwise, it’ll consume the whole dish. Again, they could have just served this with the quail egg and rice, and I would not have noticed. Another waste.
- TORO TAKU – Official description from Gari – Chopped Fatty Tuna with Japanese Yellow Pickles. I always thought TAKUANs were Korean. Today, I learn, TAKUAN is actually Japanese. Interesting! I usually get this at the end of the meal, in the form of a hand roll, never as sushi. Given that this particular piece of sushi was 1/3 the size of normal sushi, I was highly disappointed. UGH more SHUKO whiplash! Long story short, very good, just really ripped off in the size.
- Miso cod – OMG more with the cooked stuff. I have no words. Of the cooked cods, this one does not compare to that of SASABUNE, now that says A LOT.
- FOIE GRAS – Butter Sautéed Foie Gras topped with poached pear with pear jelly. How do you feel about FOIE GRAS? I LOVE IT! I know, it’s inhumane, and I’m a terrible person. It’s just so good, so delicious, rich and decadent! It’s also the easiest thing in the world to make, by the way. Needs nothing, pan sear it, and then top it with some sort of caramelized tart fruit (peach or pear or apple even), AND/OR reduce a simple port and balsamic, and voila! That said, this particular FOIE GRAS was very good, very delicious. BUT, I can easily make this at home myself, (I actually keep some in my freezer at all times!), AND there was NOTHING Japanese-y about it. I recently visited IKI CUISINE in Flushing. Now they had a good FOIE GRAS, they served it with UNI, and King Oyster Mushroom over a bite of toast. Theirs was much better. Sorry, while I love my FOIE GRAS, this particular one, I can make at home, OR go to a good French restaurant and have a bigger and better version.
- MIRUGAI ANKIMO – Fresh MIRUGAI with Monk-Fish Liver Sauce. This was marvelous! I needed a win after so many losses! This MIRUGAI so fresh, and the MONK-fish liver sauce was such a nice compliment! So very happy with this serving.
- MIRUGAI Sashimi with Ceviche Sauce – Ordered a second round. Chef asked how we wanted it served, same as before or something else. We said whatever he recommends. BAD CHOICE! This was fine, but nothing to write home about.
- Oysters – Oysters from West Virginia, served with PONZU sauce, MOMIJI OROSHI and scallions. We had two rounds of this for a reason. It was very yummy. I usually take a photo of mine, and a photo of boyfriends, and post the better of the two. For this, I’m posting all of them so you can judge for yourself!
I think I said enough… I feel like a broken record… Everything tasted good, but could not tell if it’s good fish, or even fish at all. For a good tasting but non-sushi meal, this was outrageously expensive. Highlight of the night was meeting Matthew McConaughey! His ears should have been ringing like mad. In my drunken stupor, I made up a Matthew McConaughey song, and skipped all the way back to our apartment singing that song. For a true/higher end sushi ya, this is the worst rating I have ever given, 21 out of 35.