Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recent Sushi Outings

I've been craving sushi lately. Big mouthfuls of rice-filled maki rolls, slippery raw scallops, melty wet uni. I think it's more a texture thing than a taste thing.

First on the list: Yama, near Union Square. This underground space is small but clean and comfortable, with a good a la carte menu and very decent prices. The sushi itself is not mind-blowing, but considering prices and location it's a good deal for solid fish.

A few of us went out for a pre-dinner dinner (a new dining concept in my life that begins with filling up on cheaper but good stuff so you can try more expensive stuff somewhere else later). We got one of their many combo platters. Maybe Sushi for Two? It was a well-diversified plate of roe, eel, sashimi (tuna, whitefish, salmon) and seaweed-wrapped rolls (crab, yellowtail, etc.). We also got a specialty roll (eel, avocado and flying fish roe rolled in cucumber) and a few of my favorite a la carte staples (toro, scallop, uni). Overall, a good pre-dinner dinner.

122 E. 17th St. (between Irving Pl & S Park Ave)
New York, NY
(212) 475-0969

Next, a Brooklyn establishment I've been trying to visit for awhile -- Taro Sushi in Park Slope! It's an average looking spot from the outside, but their sushi is on par with some of the greater spots we've visited in the city. The rice is warm and risotto-y. I'm beginning to think you can judge the quality of a sushi place by its rice, kind of like how my mom always said you can judge an Italian restaurant by the croutons in their salad.
A lot of us squeezed into that tiny place one night and split more pieces of sushi that I can even count. The most noteworthy would have to be the uni on top of a scallop. We had a bunch of different types of toro. There was horse mackerel, there was amberjack, and there was even some royal-tasting spicy rolls. There was even sliced raw beef and ankimo.

This place is almost the exact opposite of Yama. The atmosphere isn't spotless or even much to look at (they have a messy desk pushed off to one side with a beer tap attached). It's not in the greatest location (you can almost see Target gleaming from across Flatbush Ave). The fish can get pricey if you come too hungry. On the plus side, they do have an amazing menu and everything is very fresh. Next time I'm up for some quality sushi, I'll probably head to the city for similarly priced but better quality of dining at Kanoyama.

Taro Sushi

446 Dean St. (between 5th Ave & Flatbush Ave)

Brooklyn, NY 11217

(718) 398-0872

Last week I stumbled across a pretty impressive place in upper midtown. We needed a quickish place to get a sushi fix before a spa week massage, and I saw that Suzu Sushi had a pretty good menu with nice prices to boot. We were the only ones there at around 6, and the service was really fast and super friendly.

We had the sashimi appetizer, the Sumo roll (an 8-piece square roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and spicy tuna with a yuzu miso sauce) and one of the special rolls (lobster, shrimp, avocado and mango). Everything was really fresh and the rolls were impressive. The special roll was easily my favorite, even though the mango was so ripe we couldn't taste any other flavors. I didn't mind though; the different textures in this roll was divine. I liked the yuzu sauce on the Sumo roll, although it was a little sweet. Rob wasn't as crazy about it. I guess yuzu is getting a bit overused these days.

I'll probably be back to Suzu next time I'm shopping up near Lexington & 59th. I'd love to try their a la carte menu, maybe even the $3 live scallop if I work up the courage.

Suzu Sushi
1075 1st Ave
New York, NY 10022

(212) 310-0155

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Calf Liver Sashimi: The Strangest Thing I've Ever Eaten?

Last night, I went to my favorite local haunt, Bozu, for a few mango mojitos, sake and shareable plates.

Their specials of the evening never disappoint. Last night, it was calf liver sashimi. A plateful of bite-sized pieces of slippery, tender meat. It had a nice funky aftertaste that went well with the crunchy salt, ginger and garlic sauce.

It's the type of thing I'd never want to try for the first time anywhere other than Bozu.

What's the strangest food you've ever tried?