Omakase Room by Maaser

wagyu beef and truffle (very good)

Those of you who know me know that I love a good omakase, especially when it is under $100. While the price points of omakase meals keep creeping north of $300+, I do stumble on new sub $100 places every few months. Omakase Room by Maaser is my latest find, a sushi restaurant in the West Village that was opened by Sushi Seki and Sushi by Bou vets in 2019. The 12 course omakase will run you $95 per person, while 17 courses will run you $135. I would advise you to stick with the $95 option and then order any extra pieces you like a la carte at the end. You can essentially tailor your own 17 course omakase with pieces that you would actually like, which is important, because not everything is created equal here.

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Shiki Omakase in Soho

uni with truffle

I always look forward to a sushi omakase, but the meal doesn’t come cheap. A new sushi bar seems to open in New York City at least every quarter, and the prices keep going up. For instance, the latest entrant to the high-end sushi scene is Yoshino, which prices its omakase at $400 per person. So I was super excited and curious when I passed by the signage for Shiki Omakase, a new sushi restaurant in Soho that offers a $65 omakase. It practically seems like a steal in comparison to so many other places. I had to try it, and the fact that it was byob was even more motivation, so off I went for lunch one day.

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2 Years Later: Sushi Nakazawa and Cosme, Still Good

It’s always nice to see that a restaurant you really love but haven’t been to in awhile is still killing it several years later. I did a recent status check on two of my 2014 favorites, Sushi Nakazawa and Cosme, and I’m happy to report that both of these places are just as good as ever.


Sushi Nakazawa
23 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-2212

chef daisuke nakazawa
chef daisuke nakazawa

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DOMODOMO Hand Rolls

Hand rolls are often relegated to the sidelines at sushi restaurants. During an omakase, the emphasis is on the sushi or sashimi, and if a handroll is included, it usually arrives towards the end, when the diner’s attention wanes and the superfluous rice muffles the flavors of the fish. DOMODOMO, a sushi bar in Greenwich Village, is one of those rare restaurants that specializes in hand rolls, featuring them in ways that are much more interesting than the ubiquitous spicy mayo variety.

domodomo entrance
domodomo entrance

The restaurant has the clean, minimalist look of a traditional sushi bar, but the atmosphere is a lot more lively than the serious-minded silence that fills the room of other places. That’s not to say that this levity implies a lower level of skill at DOMODOMO. It’s true that they take a nontraditional approach to their hand rolls. At times they might pre-treat their fish in a bbq soy glaze or in a Korean seasoning, for instance, rather than having the customer season to taste with soy sauce, but it’s all done very thoughtfully and not in a gimmicky way. You won’t find gigantic, nonsensical Dragon or Spider rolls on this menu.

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a glass of kagua, the ideal beer to complement japanese food

shrimp peach salad
shrimp peach salad

chawanmushi with black truffle sauce
chawanmushi with black truffle sauce

sushi platter - amberjack, branzino, yellowtail, cured salmon, fluke and bluefin tuna
sushi platter – amberjack, branzino, yellowtail, cured salmon, fluke and bluefin tuna

bay scallop with korean seasoning, unagi and japanese spotted prawn
bay scallop with korean soy sauce seasoning, smoked unagi in chocolate kabayaki sauce and japanese spotted prawn

blue crab hand roll
blue crab hand roll

The menu also offers a variety of appetizers and select sushi pieces to complement your hand rolls. I would recommend the hand roll course, which features a good mix of things–cooked plates, hand rolls, a few sushi pieces and a dessert. If you’re going a la carte, the blue crab, unagi and lobster hand rolls are must do’s, and if you’re not really feeling the whole hand roll thing, the sushi menu for $52 is a very good deal that lets you have a more traditional sushi bar experience that’s more fish and less rice. The sushi, by the way, was clean, fresh and delicious, with the salmon, unagi and ebi pieces really standing out. DOMODOMO is dedicated to quality, and their fish can certainly stand on its own without the protective cover of sushi rice.

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water chestnut panna cotta

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hojicha pudding

I am a huge fan of green tea anything, so of course, for dessert, I ordered the hojicha pudding, a light panna cotta-like custard that was flavored with roasted green tea. The water chestnut panna cotta had a very similar flavor profile, except it was nuttier and earthier. In general, the desserts here are sweet but subtle in that understated Japanese way, as they should be, because anything sweeter would overshadow the fantastic sushi that came beforehand.


DOMODOMO
138 W. Houston St (between Macdougal and Sullivan St)
New York, NY 10012
(646) 707-0301

Sushi Azabu in Tribeca

sushi azabu

Sushi Azabu is one of those restaurants so under the radar that you can’t even see it on the street. For awhile, it used to be in the basement of the Greenwich Grill, and now it’s underneath an izakaya place called Daruma-ya. You might wonder how a restaurant with such a low profile can survive in this town, but with sushi this good, strong word-of-mouth will keep them coming.

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appetizers: asparagus in miso mustard, eggplant in soy sauce and homemade tofu and salmon roe

You can either choose one of the omakase options, or you can order dishes a la carte. We opted for an abbreviated omakase titled the “omotenashi course”, which featured a different assortment of sushi, sashimi and small hot plates, as well as a hot bowl of soba at the end. We supplemented that with the nigiri special, a chef’s selection of 10 pieces of sushi, a maki roll, an egg omelet and some miso soup.

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amberjack, salmon, medium fatty toro, japanese mackerel and octopus

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an assortment of nigiri–my favorite was the scallop, fatty tuna, shrimp and uni

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5 pieces of sushi, chef’s selection

The fish truly has that soft, melt-in-your-mouth quality that can only be found in the freshest catch. I was also struck by how much I liked the sushi rice. The rice was a bit al dente, but with some cohesion between the grains, and there was a subtle sweet and tangy flavor aspect that was very appealing. According to their website, Azabu uses a unique blend of sushi rice imported directly from Japan and from a prior year’s crop so that it avoids the overly-high water content that you find in fresh harvests of rice. They always say the difference between sushi places is really the rice, since all the best restaurants source fish from the same places, and I didn’t really appreciate that until now.

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tofu with salmon roe and uni

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deep fried taro potato with duck

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yellowtail collar with radish and mountain peach

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miso soup and steamed egg custard

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hot seiro soba

The cooked dishes were just as good as the raw courses. The dreamy blend of rich, briney uni and salty salmon roe in our tofu dish was just so effortlessly good, and the yellowtail collar had been cooked perfectly so that the crackling skin unearthed a plethora of tender, mild meat. The deep fried taro potato with duck was certainly rich but also very clean. so that any sense of heaviness was very much contained.

Really, the only thing I didn’t like about Azabu was the physical space. The booths were arranged along the walls so that there was an odd, open space in the middle. The atmosphere felt a bit cold and impersonal, and it didn’t help that with all the mood lighting and clubby music, that you felt like you were in a hotel lobby. Obviously there are worse things in life than eating fantastic sushi in a nice hotel lobby.


Sushi Azabu
428 Greenwich St (between Vestry and Laight)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-0428