Saturday, December 10, 2011

Double Omakase at Jewel Bako

We couldn't even remember the last time we had sushi before Rob's birthday dinner at Jewel Bako in late November. I think it was a combination of wariness from Japanese disasters, the turn-off from dining at lesser places after really good ones and not wanting to spend the money on top notch fish. 

Which made it really special to finish a long sushi dry spell at Jewel Bako. We sat at the bar at the recommendation of many, and that was definitely the way to go. The preparation is amazing to watch, and unlike most places, you get a clear view of everything they're doing. The fish cubby is tucked down towards the bottom instead of right in front of you. It's a small thing, but it really makes a difference not to have to stare at cloudy glass filled with slabs of raw fish the whole time. I think this clear view idea is something Sushi Azabu and Kanoyama could learn from.

To start: two complimentary glasses of champagne, a bottle of Ice Dome sake, miso soup and a delightful amuse.

Then the sashimi omakase, which is not exactly what we expected. Instead of small courses, we each got a combination platter. It was small, but everything here was eye-poppingly, melt-on-your tongue fresh. There were a few really unique presentations here, like an octopus suction cup filled with yuzu, and a scallop wrapped in cucumber. It was amazing watching the sushi chef use a giant knife to carve a super thin mat from a single small cucumber.

So the sashimi was good and all, but it really was just a starter. For part two, we decided to split a tasting of all nine Makimono rolls. We saw the chefs plate a few of them and were really impressed by their sizes, diversity of fish and precision that went into plating and perfecting each roll. I'm talkin' blowtorches, tweezers, giant carving knives, all that stuff.

To decide who got what, we went team captain style. I snagged the snow crab. He chose an eel. And so on. Then we went to town. We did each roll in one giant bite, and then chewed for five minutes or so. I'm not sure if this is exactly how you're supposed to do it or not.

Anyway, at $42 for nine bites, it's not something you can do every day. But its not that outrageous either.

To finish: green tea, and two complimentary green tea ice cream sandwich desserts. Candle for him. Between this and the champagne, I gotta say they were really great about remembering an occasion.

A pretty great re-introduction to high end sushi. I'd be glad to wait another year before having any again, to keep that wondrous sushi excitement alive. Maybe Kuruma Zushi, Yasuda or Gari? 

Jewel Bako
239 E 5th St
(between 2nd Ave & Cooper Sq)

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