365 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
I’m going to be straight up with you. Boyfriend is much more generous than I am in rating of sushi-yas. He’s much more forgiving with his fish. Throughout the entire meal, he was calming me down, assuring me that it will get better. By our 10th serving, he whispered into my ear, Sushi Seki should be renamed Sushi Suck-i. And of course, more mediocre pieces followed.
We will get into the important stuff, the food in great detail later, but let’s first talk about a pet peeve that is very prevalent at Sushi Seki.
The sushi bar and chefs are all upstairs, so if you are dining downstairs, your food is still coming from upstairs. Between the chefs and sous chefs, there are a total of 5 constants behind the bar. And then a number of random wait staff coming and going, but not staying. I’m not sure if they were actual waitresses, or hosts that handle take out, but there were two ladies that loves to come in through the back and scream out orders. Three sushi specials, two spicy tuna rolls, one salmon avocado roll, etc. Really??? You couldn’t get a more sophisticated system than just screaming it out???
Ok, onto the meal.
SASHIMI (clockwise starting from the oyster):
- KUMAMOTO – Oysters are a very simple fish, all you do is clean, then shuck, and try not to get any debris left over. If you shuck two dozens, you probably have it mastered. Heck, I have a busted wing (shoulder), and I shucked 3 dozen in one sitting after learning how-to from a youtube video. It’s not that complicated. KUMAMOTOs are a great starter west coast oyster. When it’s good, it’s very mild, very sweet, and it’s usually small, so not so intimating. This KUMAMOTO did not taste good, it was NOT fresh, and mine had sand! Boyfriend claims his was okay though…
- NEW ZEALAND KING SALMON – Chef had marinated this salmon overnight and lightly ABURIed (torched) just the skin. I’m not a huge fan of salmons, and definitely not king salmons. Most people prefer the sea trouts, then kings, then just regular farm, I am that odd individual that prefers it the opposite way. For me, this was a middle of the road salmon, and was underwhelming.
- NAMADAKO –Chef had sliced the NAMADAKO thin, then topped it with a DASHI jelly of sorts. DASHI is essentially a clear fish broth, usually made with KOMBU (a sea kelp) and KATSUOBUSHI (fermented skipjack tuna) shavings. I prefer NAMADAKOs the way that Chef Takahashi does it at Blue Ribbon Izakaya, sliced thin, and topped with a little bit of citrus and sea salt. The DASHI jelly here was not very good, and nor was the NAMADDAKO, which was extremely chewy.
- SHIMA AJI – SHIMA AJIs are my favorite of the yellowtails. This one was not fresh, it had zero crunch, and it was FISHY! I could have returned this one…
- CHUTORO – The only item on the sashimi servings that was “acceptable”. This CHUTORO was not great, but my standards are pretty low right now. It had a bit of a chew to it, and definitely a funky aftertaste tinge. Yet, again, this was the most acceptable of the 5 fishes served on my sashimi pattern. This is when I started to get pretty irritated.
- TORO TAKUAN – I really enjoy a good TORO TAKUAN… AS A ROLL, but not as a sushi/NIGIRI. TORO TAKUAN is essentially chopped TORO mixed with Japanese Yellow Pickles. However, this was my first “good” piece for the evening. Beggars can’t be choosers.
- MADAI – MADAIs are a true seabream, and one of my favorite of the white fishes. I WISH I can say definitively if this was really a MADAI and not a lesser substitute. I wish I had the tongue for that and can challenge the chef when I’m in disbelief. But I don’t. If this really was a MADAI, it was not a good one at all. It was topped with a little bit of seat salt, and nothing else. It was chewier than most and not good. Have I said that it wasn’t good yet? It wasn’t good. Oh, at this point, I should also mention the quality of the rice. The rice was not good either! The rice wasn’t as “sticky” as normal and didn’t hold together as it should, and it was cold, as opposed to luke warm. I feel like they must have either cut the sushi rice with a jasmine rice of sorts, OR the rice was old. And why must I have SO MUCH of it?
- SALMON BELLY – This was served ABURIed and topped with three kinds of spicy sauce, sriracha, jalapeño, and a spicy mayo. Trying too hard? I’d say so! I wiped off two-thirds of all the spicy sauces, and was able to enjoy my decently fresh salmon belly.
- KINMEDAI – KINMEDAIs, the golden eye snappers are another of my top three whitefishes. Chef served it topped with soy and nothing else. I love KINMEDAIs for their signature brightness, lightness, and sweetness. This particular serving had zero brightness, and was CHEWY. Disappointment central!
- KANPACHI – Chef served this Amberjack topped with jalapeño pepper sauce. I removed a portion of the sauce, to try the fish alone first, and found the fish to be surprisingly good. Earlier there was a good enough CHUTORO, then a good enough TORO TAKUAN, but this is the first “good” cut of fish. While I took pictures, then consume a half bite of fish with no topping, boyfriend ate his entire NIGIRI. He choked on the spicy saucy! I took a tiny taste, and confirmed, it was insanely spicy. Scraped off the remainder of jalapeño pepper sauce, and was able to enjoy the rest.
- KING SALMON – Which came first? Chicken or the Egg? Am I at SEKI or GARI? Ask me anything and I will answer, or I if I don’t know the answer, will gladly make something up. GARI opened shop back in 97, and Seki opened up, pretty much in the same neighborhood, like less than ½ mile away, in 2002. GARI definitely had the salmon with sautéed tomato first! Sorry GARI, you can’t trademark sushi toppings so it is what it is. On that note, sushi grade salmon and vine tomatoes are both easy peasy of finds, I can even make this at home next weekend, and there ain’t a thing you can do about it! This King Salmon topped with sautéed tomato, tasted exactly like that of GARI’s and was thoroughly enjoyable! Hit number three!
- HAMACHI-SUNAZURI – Yellowtail belly topped with a thin slice of insanely spicy jalapeño. This is when you know the chef did not taste his jalapeños before slicing and saucing. The HAMACHI SUNAZURI was very good, but if I consume this NIGIRI whole, I would have burned my mouth and lost every last taste bud. You need to check your produce just like you do your fish chef!!! Fish alone was good, but this NIGIRI was a fail. By the way, remember how I told you the rice was not good? By now, my plate was three quarters full of mediocre rice, and it is an irritating realization that the service here needs work. This waitress continues to reach between my boyfriend and I to fill up my SAKE glass, but not once had she offered a new plate. I have almost no room left on my plate! A proper waitress would have spotted that and changed it by the time I got to one quarter full. They might even have alerted the chef, significantly less rice please.
- AKAMI ZUKE – Lean marinated tuna topped with Japanese mustard. Xnay on the ustarday! (pig-latin because I’m 5 years old) The AKAMI just tasted of soy and nothing else, so the fish alone was not great. So not so great Tuna topped with a disturbingly incompatible mustard. Goodness gracious. Can we go for pizza yet?
- ENGAWA – The fluke fin was deep fried and served over a leaf of SHISO and topped with MAGURO. Hit number four! I would ordinarily be disappointed that I didn’t get my plain ENGAWA NIGIRI, but at the rate of their traditional pieces, I’m better off with the deep fried. This was also a unique piece to SEKI. Not traditional, yet not a rip off GARI.
- Flaky whitefish called “ANOW”??? – That’s what chef said, “ANOW”, I looked it up when we came home, and found NOTHING spelt similar to “ANOW” that is a flaky whitefish. This was a fully cooked piece of fish on the grill. It was VERY fishy. And flaky whitefishes are rarely fishy!
- HAGASHI TORO – Ding Ding Ding! Hit number five! HAGASHI TOROs are a specific cut of Tuna that comes from the tail, behind the CHUTORO cut. HAGASHI-TOROs are super labor intensive to cut, so few chefs offer this. Which also makes me wonder… Does chef have it in him to cut and server wonderfully, but simply does not care about us? Or was this a fluke good item?
- SHIROEBI – Sweet baby white shrimps are delicious, but this one was just passable, very little sweetness, almost a slight bitterness even. What a waste. Oh and did you see the portion size? This rice was smaller as is, and even then, this proportion was RIDONCULOUS!
- SEARED TUNA – This was so confusing. Chef seared this MAGURO yielding a super peppery seared crust, and it topped with a very sour, pickled radish and seaweed, and a small deep fried garlic chip. This in one word, BAD. Enough said!
- NAMASABA – Japanese mackerel DRENCHED in a peanut sauce. What the hey is this? This mish mash of flavors was an abomination. I can’t even tell you if the NAMASABA alone was any good, given it was swimming in the peanut sauce, but I can say that I would NEVER have ordered this serving.
- AKAMUTSU – The third of my top three whitefishes, the fattiest of the three. Chef lightly ABURIed this, which I appreciate, then topped it with some almost tasteless, grainy/powdery yellow substance that he called “UNI mascarpone”. I don’t buy it, mascarpones are CREAMY, this was powdery, and tasted NOTHING like UNI. Plus, I did not like that texture over my otherwise great tasting fish. In this serving, freshness was great, preparation tanked.
- UNI from HOKKAIDO – Looks gross, huh? Surprisingly, this didn’t taste nearly as bad as it looked. If I was to rate the freshness/quality on a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a six. Passed, but severely borderline.
- YAKI TORO – Chef, I don’t see how this was “YAKI”. YAKI is grilled. This was blow torched, which is ABURIed. I saw you do it! Anyway, continuing on with our ratings, boyfriend gave this a 6 or 7, I gave it a 4. I told you he was more generous than I am. The only justification I have for him rating his higher was that his fish was much thicker than mine, mine was 95% cooked through, which I don’t appreciate.
- Crunchy spicy scallop hand roll – Hit number six! This was spicy but not overly so, and was very, very good!!! The crunchiness of both the PANKO and the NORI helped make this roll. Thank you for sending me off with a good piece. And thank you for giving boyfriend a roll with twice the filling!
- Red bean panna cotta with raspberry – We get a complimentary dessert. A good one too! Raspberry was super pretty addition, but did not blend with the red bean. But it seemed like a last minute add though. If you just removed it, it didn’t disrupt any of the flavors. Honestly, for the meal that we endured, you should give us 10 more to take home.
Neither the experience nor the food was “good”. Why go to an upscale restaurant, and spend over 800 bucks for mediocre food and overall experience? Please read through this summary, it spells out exactly why they get only a 13 out of 25 points for food. But since they are not pricey, that brings up their overall rating to 22 out of 35.