Visited in May 2017
105 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
Did you know Yuba has been open for over 6 years? While chatting with their head sushi chef, Chef Jack Wei, I very excitedly shared, ‘we were here when you first opened!’ He responded, ‘wow, that’s a long time.’ I said, ‘no… just last year, right?’ He said, ‘no, we’ve been open for over 6 years now!’ UGH! So embarrassing!
The best way to categorize Yuba is a “local neighborhood restaurant”. No glitz, no glamour, no fancy menu, no super attractive host/hostess, and no polished wait staff. Nothing that I care for. I do have one gripe though. Cleanliest matters for restaurants! The three chefs behind the bar had some of the dirtiest, most stained chef jackets. Boyfriend and I also had a good chuckle about their, what used to be white, but is now brown, 1950 toaster oven. Their primary customer base is locals, looking for a reliable but affordable meal.
They have a fairly large menu, a little daunting actually. Reminds me of diner menus, so many options that I don’t know where to start. In terms of omakase, Yuba offers three tiers, $60, $80, and $100. The waiter shared that the difference is not just the quantity of servings, but the quality of the fish. I thought that was very odd, if someone was to get lower quality servings, why not just get the sushi/sashimi platter off the main menu for half the price? Why bother with the omakase? So why did the waiter share that? Interesting…
We can EAT, so of course, we chose the biggest omakase, the $100 one. We ended up ordering more pieces though, landing us at the grand total of $120:
- Blue Crab Appetizer – The crab was slightly fishy, but still very good. The crab roe on the other hand, was incredibly hard, not good.
- DAIKON radish sprouts, wrapped in SUZUKI (Sea bass), and topped with summer truffles – When did all sushi chefs jump on the truffle bandwagon? I’m not not-a-fan, but you do need to be cautious if you’re going to put such a strong flavor on raw fish. You need to either dilute or be very sparing when it comes to this ingredient. This serving was too much, too overpowering.
- HORATO (A specific seabream from Greece) – Huge fan of seabreams, but the HORATO was not comparable to the MADAI.
- MADAI (True seabream) – So incredible. Really delicious!
- KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – I wish chef ABURIed it! It was good, but not a good follow up after the MADAI.
- Ocean trout – Decent, but I was so enjoying my all white fish grouping…
- ISAKI (Grunt) – Slightly fish, but very little chew for an ISAKI. This was a good ISAKI.
- KANPACHI belly (Amberjack) – Love the signature gumminess and firmness of this fish, beautiful cut.
- AKAMUTSU (Rosy sea perch) – AKAMUTSUs is one of my favorite whites! This serving was better than the KINMEDAI, but not nearly as good as the MADAI.
- SAYORI (Needle fish) – This was a bit disappointing. SAYORIs are bound to be slightly fishy, it’s the nature of the fish. This is why it is usually served with a tiny bit of ground ginger. This one was not, putting the fishiness on full display.
- King salmon – I’m not a huge fan of salmons on omakase. Primarily because I don’t like the fancy trouts and chars, I prefer good old fashion fatty farm raised salmons, and omakases almost always serve the fancy salmons. This was thoroughly enjoyable.
- SHIMA AJI (Striped jack) – Second super good yellowtail serving of the night! YUM!
- HAMACHI belly (Young yellowtail) – Third super good yellowtail. Good job!
- HOTATE (Scallop) – Ever so slightly ABURIed (torched), and topped with citrus and sea salt. YUM!
- HIRAME (Flounder) – Again served with shaved citrus and sea salt, I really like whites served this way, so I was happy.
- AJI (Japanese horse mackerel) – Silver number 2. This was BAD, it was overly marinated, almost to the point of curing the fish. The ginger and scallion didn’t was not enough to help.
- KOHADA (Gizzard shad) – Silver number 3. Much better than the last silver, the AJI, but this too was overly marinated. Chef needs to work on his silvers…
- OTORO (Super fatty tuna) – A littl3 veiny, leaving more of a chew than preferred, but still an overall good cut.
- BOTAN EBI (Spotted sweet shrimp) – The caviar was pretty mediocre, but the BOTAN EBI was very fresh, very sweet, and had a nice firm crunch. This is where you try to be fancy, but fail on execution. Would have been happier with just the BOTAN EBI.
- UNI with a tofu purée – So sorry chef, you guys are great people, great fun, but this serving was an epic fail. The tofu purée was bland, tofu haters – there is such a thing as good tofu puree, KYO YA does this very well, but Yuba’s serving was unnecessarily bland. The UNI was not of great quality, the caviar was the same low quality caviar from the BOTAN EBI serving.
- SABA (Japanese Mackerel) – Silver number 4. I am convinced now that chef simply does not have quality silvers. As is, I’m not a fan of SABA, this one was just gross.
- MADAI – I needed to go back to the tried and true, so repeat of the MADAI.
- A5 Waygu – The sauce reminded me of a KALBI like sauce, but not quite. This was very good.
- King salmon – Boyfriend wanted a repeat, I didn’t say no. 🙂
- IKURA (Salmon roe) – We like to wrap up with IKURA. You always have stomach space for IKURA! This was good. Nice, loosely packed IKURA, not at all gooey. YUM!
For a local neighborhood restaurant, Yuba has a decent variety of fish. Their whites, salmons, yellowtails were all very decent, but their silvers need work, and they definitely need better quality UNI. Tuna lovers beware! Our entire omakase had only one Tuna serving, the OTORO. For the price though, this is definitely worth a try!