Bada Story – Great Korean Hwe (Sashimi) In Flushing

Bada Story is a restaurant in Flushing that specializes in hwe (Korean style sashimi).  Hwe is a little different than the Japanese sashimi as it tends to be served directly after being killed whereas most fish we have in sushi restaurants has been aged.  There is a misconception that great fish in sushi restaurants is super fresh when in fact the meat needs to have a little time in order to break down to get that very tender texture associated good sushi.  Also, hwe tends to be eaten with chogochujang which is gochujang (Korean spicy pepper sauce) mixed with vinegar and other seasonings like sesame oil.

Bada Story basically only serves hwe and you order set menus that offer a variety of other dishes in addition to hwe.  The restaurant feels like you’re in Korea and the interior looks like a cabin.  It’s a fun atmosphere where people are having fun eating and drinking.  The waiters speak varying degrees of English, but they have a couple of waiters who are fluent in English and the menu is in English, so communication is not an issue.

There are tanks where the keep the fish and sea cucumbers (the weird pinkish long things).

We got the fluke set, which was recommended by a friend of mine that is from the area.  This set was a shocking amount of high quality food for the price and we were very full at the end (everything below is part of the set).  It ended up being $65 per person including drinks, tax and tip!


These were raw vegetables served with tenjang (fermented bean paste).  They were fresh and tasted great with the tenjang.  8/10

Seafood Salad

This was a lettuce salad with fish roe and squid in a sweet ginger dressing.  The seafood was nicely fresh and it was tasty.  7.75/10

Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)

This is a typical Korean seafood pancake.  It wasn’t oily and was nicely crispy.  It came with a tangy soy sauce with peppers and onions in it.  The version here was good.  8/10

Steamed Egg

This is a steamed egg custard that is made with egg, water and sugar.  It’s a simple dish, but I always really like this dish as I tend to like eggy dishes.  8/10

Cheese Corn

This is yellow corn with cheese on top of it, which is common at Korean restaurants.  They also added corn, peas and shrimp here as well.  It’s certainly not gourmet, but there is something satisfying about the sweetness of the corn and the creaminess of the cheese.  7.75/10

Mussel Soup

This was a simple soup with mussels.  The mussels were fresh and the soup base is very light with the flavor of mussels imparted into it.  7.75/10

Fried Fluke

This was fried fluke with a slightly tangy soy sauce.  It was freshly fried and not oily.  The meat was tender and flaky.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was still pretty decent.  7.5/10

Sea Pineapple and Sea Cucumber Sashimi

This looks super bizarre, but the red-orange things are sea pineapple and the grey-blue things are sea cucumber.  While they look like they might be really mushy, the texture is actually somewhat firm and crunchy when you bite into it.  It was very fresh tasting and despite its bizarre appearance the flavor is quite mild and mainly tastes salty and briny.  You dip it in soy sauce with wasabi.  I found it to be quite delicious.  8/10

Grilled Whole Fish

This was a whole fish grilled with salt and lemon.  This fish was cooked properly, so the meat was tender, but they over-salted the fish, so it was a bit too salty otherwise I’d have given it a higher rating.  7.5/10

Mixed Sashimi Platter

This was a platter of several cuts of fish, octopus, abalone, shrimp, uni and this odd looking thing which I’m actually not sure what it was (I believe it might’ve been part of the sea cucumber).  Everything was very fresh tasting and surprisingly high quality.  I was quite impressed by this sashimi platter. 8.25/10

Fluke Hwe (Sashimi)

This was the main course.  The fluke was laid out on rocks with dry ice at the bottom, it was kind of over the top, but it did look pretty.  Fluke is a very mild flavored fish, so the flavor is quite subtle.  The meat was extremely fresh having just been killed so it’s got a firmer texture than you might be used to at a normal sushi restaurant.  I like to dip it in the chogochujang, which is tangy, sweet and spicy, but you can also dip it in soy sauce and wasabi.  It was good although I was pretty full by the time it showed up.  8/10


After the fluke they gave us some light kimchi, which was a nice palate cleanser.  7.75/10

Spicy Tuna Roll

This was just a small spicy tuna roll.  It was decent, but nothing special.  7.5/10

Maewoon Tang (Spicy Fish Stew)

This is a spicy fish stew.  I was so full by the time this came that I only really ate some to see how it tasted.  The ingredients were all fresh, but the soup was a little light in flavor.  Good versions of this stew tend to be spicier and have more the seafood flavor imparted into the broth.  7.5/10

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal here.  The food is good and it’s a fun place to come with friends.  It also happens to be very reasonably priced for what you are getting.

161-23 Crocheron Ave
Flushing, NY 11358
(718) 321-9555

Sushi Nakazawa – How Does It Compare To Jiro? I Don’t Know Or Care, But This Is Some Of The Best Sushi In NY

Sushi Nakazawa was recently opened by Daisuke Nakazawa who is famous for being the apprentice in “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” who made tamagoyaki two thousand times before Jiro finally said it was good enough quality to be served to customers.  Naturally before he even opened up there was a lot of buzz about him, how he compares to Jiro, how his experience in Seattle might have shaped him and many other permutations of that conversation.  Well I’ve never been to Jiro (and neither have 99.9% of the people asking how it will compare), but I can tell you this he’s making some of the best sushi in NY right now and is solidly in the top tier sushi level with places like Sushi Yasuda and 15 East.

The restaurant is located in the West Village.  The space is a long narrow space with a sushi bar upfront and tables in the back.  The window facing the sidewalk is floor to ceiling and gives the restaurant a more open feel versus most sushi restaurants which feel enclosed.  It is a beautiful space and I really like how it feels more casual than other sushi restaurants.  The service was excellent and attentive.  Daisuke Nakazawa is a very nice guy. While his English is not great he’s always smiling, laughing and is engaging with customers which is rare in NY.

We got the sushi omakase which is $150 for 21 pieces (a lot of people asked me about that).

I’m going to comment on the sushi rice here since it is a commonality amongst all the sushi.  It was excellent and on par with Yasuda which has the best sushi rice in NY.  The texture was great, perfectly al dente and the flavor of the vinegar was nice and not overpowering or too weak.  The flavoring is a bit different than Yasuda, but it’s a tossup as to whose rice is better.

Another thing I’ll comment on is he uses way more locally caught seafood than other places and I’ve heard some complaints about that because of the price of the meal.  My view is that the seafood was excellent and I don’t care where it’s from if it’s really good although I understand the price vs where the food is from argument, but I’ll let other argue over that.

Here’s what we had:

Wild King Salmon

This was from Alaska and was served with sea salt and yuzu.  The meat was very light colored and quite delicate tasting.  I thought the sea salt and yuzu really complimented it nicely.  8.5/10

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

This had a slightly stronger salmon taste although again it was excellent.   8.25/10


This was from Maine and was live.  They brought the whole shell out to show us before serving it to us.  It was sweet and bit briny, a really standout scallop.  8.5/10

Seared Geoduck

The searing gave the geoduck a very smoky flavor and the soy sauce complimented it nicely with some saltiness.  While it was not super tender it also wasn’t tough like some geoduck.  I thought it was good although not amazing.  7.75/10

Steamed Abalone

This was from California and was steamed for 4 hours.  This was good for abalone although abalone is not my favorite sushi as I find it a bit hard and not that flavorful.  That said this was better than most abalone you get in the US as it wasn’t that tough.  7.75/10

Pike Mackerel

This was from Japan.  It was really great and was the best piece I’ve had in the US.  8.75/10

Pickled Mackerel

This was from Japan and pickled for 5 days.  The pickling killed any fishy flavor and I thought it was a really nice tasting piece of mackerel.  8.25/10

Trigger Fish

This was from Long Island and served with liver.  The fish was quite light tasting with a good firm texture.  The liver was a nice touch as it gave the fish an extra bit slight liver flavor which made it a much fuller taste overall.  8/10


This was from Long Island and served with yuzu.  This was a standard, but good piece of fluke.  8/10

Spear Squid

This was from Long Island and it was quite tender actually.  Squid itself does not have a ton of flavor, so the soy sauce is definitely necessary.  7.75/10


This was from New Caledonia and while I normally don’t like ebi all that much this was definitely the best piece I’ve had in the US.  It had been recently cooked, so it was slightly warm.  8.25/10

Shima Aji

This was from Japan and it was a really great piece of fish.  Tender and just had great flavor.  8.5/10

Skip Jack

This was from Japan and was smoked.  It was nice with a very slight smokiness to it.  8.25/10

Blue Fin Tuna

This was wild caught from Boston.  It was interesting because all of the tuna was from one fish from Boston which I’d never had tuna from Boston.  I thought it was surprisingly good, nice tuna flavor with pretty good texture.  It’s not like the best stuff I’ve had in Japan, but it was actually very nice.  8.25/10

Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna)

This was wild caught from Boston.  It was nicely marbled and buttery.   8/10

Otoro (Tuna Belly)

This was wild caught from Boston.  It was also nicely marbled and buttery.  8/10

Uni (Sea Urchin)

This was from Santa Barbara.  I was a little worried because it looked bit weird, but once I took a bit it turned out to be excellent.  It was sweet, briny and creamy.  It was definitely a respectable piece of uni.  8.25/10

Salmon Roe

This was from Alaska.  Wow this was a standout; this was by far the best ikura I’ve had in the US.  It wasn’t fishy at all, nicely salty with just generally good flavor.  8.75/10

Anago (Conger Eel)

This was from Japan.  It was a nice piece of anago with good texture not too mushy and the sweet sauce was not overwhelming.  8/10

Tuna Handroll

This was a tuna handroll that had a bit of liver in it.  While tuna handrolls are not my favorite, this was very good for a tuna handroll with a good ratio of fish to rice to nori8.25/10


Here is the infamous tamago from Jiro Dream’s Of Sushi.  This was different than most as it’s the kind that is more of a cake as opposed to an omelette, so the texture is more spongy.  It was fairly sweet and delicate tasting.  I thought it was good although I think I prefer the traditional tamagoyaki more.  8/10

Overall, I really liked Nakazawa across the board.  I thought the food was some of the best I’ve had in NY this year, the service and setting were great and Nakazawa was a really nice guy.  I highly recommend coming here as soon as possible.

23 Commerce St (between S 7th Ave & Bedford St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-2212

Sakae Sushi – This Is Not Jiro, But It’s Still Awesome

Sakae Sushi is one of the three places I mentioned in my post on Mitsuru Café that I can remember going to for as long as I’ve been alive (the third place is Sakura-Ya) because all of them are older than I am.  I’d feel like my blog is not complete until I’ve got a post on all three places.

The “restaurant” is not even a restaurant, but is rather a very small take-out place located right on Redondo Beach Blvd across the street from Pacific Square Shopping Center in Gardena.   This is not the high end sushi that you find at say Mori or Zo rather I think of it as “comfort” sushi that you eat at home.  They only makes 6 sushi items: nori maki, inari, ebi, saba, tamago yaki and California rolls.  Here’s all of the sushi except California rolls because I don’t like them:


Inari is a fried tofu skin pouch that has been marinated in a semi-sweet sauce that I believe has mirin, sugar, soy sauce and dashi and filled with sushi rice.  One note about all of their sushi is that the rice is rather sweet compared to most sushi places although I like it and it complements the sushi well. Normally you see these in the Japanese markets in their prepared food section, but those don’t taste nearly as good as Sakae; the rice is very fresh and the tofu skins are marinated just perfectly.  8.5/10

Tamago Maki

Tamago maki is a futomaki roll that instead of having nori (dried seaweed) as the outside layer instead it has thin layer of tamago (semi-sweet egg omelette) layer on the outside.  It is filled with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, tamago, pickled kampyo and oboro (the pink sweet stuff).  It’s fairly self-explanatory in flavor and the version here is very good. 8.25/10

Nori Maki

This is the same as the tamago maki except the outside is nori instead of tamago and it will have a piece of tamago as part of the filling.  This is also excellent.  8.25/10

Saba Sushi

Saba sushi is mackerel has been marinated in vinegar.  My grandmother said that traditionally you were supposed to have white meat, a bit of dark meat and skin on each piece.  This is the exactly how they do it at Sakae.  I really like their version; the fish is just right and goes great with the rice.  8.25/10

Ebi Sushi (Cooked Shrimp)

I’m not a huge fan of ebi as I find it rather plain and that’s the same here although I will say it’s better than most since the shrimp tastes fresher.  7.25/10

1st pic (clockwise from top left): inari, saba, nori maki, tamago maki

2nd pic (clockwise from top left): ebi, nori maki, tamago yaki, inari

Overall, I really like this place and if you happen to be in Gardena do yourself a favor and pick some up for yourself.  Also, if you happen to be going anywhere around New Years and want a large order be aware that you need to call weeks or a month in advance because they do sell out for the large orders.

1601 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Ste 112
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 532-4550

Mitsuru Café – Great Imagawayaki (Taiyaki), Homemade Mochi And Other Japanese Treats in Little Tokyo

Mitsuru Café is one of three Japanese places that I can literally remember going to for as long as I’ve been alive; the other two being Sakae Sushi and Sakura-Ya in Gardena.  All of these places serve very simple Japanese dishes that I love and fondly remember.

Mitsuru Café is a little café located in Japanese Village in Little Tokyo.  While they have renovated the outside, the inside still looks like it’s from the 60s with old faded walls with specials taped on them, a counter with an open kitchen and old wooden tables.  At the front window they have a griddle that cooks the imagawayaki as well as a display case showing a variety fried foods and other stuff such as dango.  Its super old school and really brings you back.  I rarely sit down and eat, but when I’m close to Downtown LA I almost always stop by and get some food for myself or to bring back to my family.


This is what you will see people waiting in line for.  Imagawayaki is a pancake cooked in a griddle with red bean in the middle.  More commonly you will see taiyaki which are the fish shaped ones.  The key to a good imagawayaki are being fresh off the grill, good tasting batter and the right batter to bean ratio.  Surprisingly, I’ve had a hard time finding a good one in Asia even in Tokyo and Taipei where they are very common.  One of the three characteristics is always wrong; it’s a cheap snack and most of the vendors just don’t take them seriously.  Mitsuru still makes the best one for me.  They are really fresh, hot and slightly crispy, the batter is not too thick and has a really good flavor.  The only knock is that the an (red bean paste) is a bit too sweet.  I highly recommend trying these.  8.5/10


Ohagi are a type of mochi with red bean on the outside and a rice ball in the middle; definitely one of my favorite.  The ones here are true home style and taste like the ones my family made when I was a kid.  They’re pretty ugly, but the beans are really fresh and the rice balls are very nice as well.  It’s a simple confectionery, but you’ll notice the difference versus the ones you buy in the super markets.  8.25/10

Daifuku / Yomogi / Black Sesame Daifuku:

These are also homemade.  The daifuku are the standard white ones, the yomogi the green ones that use mugwort (one of my favorite) and the black sesame daifuku are the ones covered in black sesame.  All of them have red bean in the middle.  Even though these are homemade honestly they don’t taste much different than the major local brands like Mikawaya.  They are still good, nicely fresh and taste just like they sound.  While not exceptional like Sakura-Ya, they are quite good and worth eating if you happen to be buying other stuff.  7.75/10


Inari are a type of sushi that look like footballs.  They are marinated tofu skins stuffed with sushi rice and sesame seeds.  They are fresh and pretty decent although they’re not great like the ones at Sakae Sushi.  Again these are good and worth checking out if you’re here, but not going to blow you away.  7.75/10


These are the sushi rolls that have tamago (sweet egg omelet), takuan (yellow radish pickle), this pink sweet stuff that looks like cotton candy and pickled gobo (burdock root).  The ones here are pretty standard and while tasty not out of the ordinary.  These are another one worth checking out if you’re here, but not worth going out of your way for.  7.75/10

Overall, if you want to try some great imagawayaki and homemade mochi, I’d highly recommend coming here because this is the type of stuff that one day you will not be able to find anymore.  Also please note that they only carry the ohagi and mochi on the weekends.

117 Japanese Village Plz Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-1028

Sushiden – Another Good Midtown Sushi Restaurant

Sushiden has been around for a long time and I’ve been here before, but only for business dinners which don’t really allow you to fully enjoy the meal because you sit at a table not at the sushi bar and you end up ordering stuff to make sure everyone is okay with the food not what you would order on my own.  However, even under those circumstances I remembered liking the food, so when my girlfriend and I decided to go see Cirque Du Soleil at Rockefeller Center, I decided it would be a good chance to try Sushiden again since it’s right next to Rockefeller (fyi, Sushiden has two locations on here and one on Madison).

The restaurant is fairly large with a sushi counter and small seating upfront and then a larger dining room in the back with some private dining rooms as well.  The waitresses are dressed in kimonos and the sushi chefs in typical white chef’s gear with chef hats.  The customer base was mainly Japanese and completely Japanese at the sushi bar.  The service was good and attentive as to be expected at a good Japanese restaurant.

Here’s what we got:

Sea Bream:

This was from Japan.  The fish was fresh and had a slight richness about it that was nice.  For this piece the rice was served slightly warm and the chefs were discussing the rice for a while, so I believe the batch was slightly messed up b/c it was still too hot.  They use a little more vinegar then I prefer, but the flavoring was still good.  7.75/10

Horse Mackerel (Aji):

This was from Japan.  It was served with a little bit of minced scallions and horse radish. Horse mackerel is an oily and slightly fishy tasting fish. The version here was good.  For this piece and the pieces to follow, the rice was normal temperature, so I’m pretty sure the rice was messed up on the first piece, the rice was much better when it was cooler. 8/10


This was from Japan. It’s a fairly simple white that is fairly lean.  It had good texture and was mild in flavor.  Overall, it was a good piece of fish.  7.75/10

Giant Sweet Shrimp:

This was from Canada. This was quite good, the shrimp was sweet and it had a good soft texture.  8.25/10

Japanese Skipjack:

This was served with a little bit of minced scallions and horse radish.  I believe skipjack is a type of tuna. It was a quite tender and mild flavored fish.  7.75/10

Fresh Octopus with Salt:

This was recommended by the chef as one of his favorites of the day.  The octopus was excellent, it was very tender and the salt that was sprinkled on it really added an extra dimension to the flavor.  This was very good and probably my overall favorite piece of sushi.  8.5/10

Sakai Salmon:

A nice piece of salmon that had good flavor and texture.  7.75/10

Medium Fatty Toro:

This was from Spain.  It didn’t look all that pretty to be honest, but it tasted quite good.  It was nicely fatty as toro always is and had a good rich flavor.  8/10

Grilled Octopus Suction Cups:

This was interesting as it was prepared on a skewer like a yakitori.  The chef sprinkled a little bit of salt on it.  It had a good grilled flavor to it and the octopus was still reasonably tender.  7.75/10


This was from Seattle.  I’m not a fan of raw abalone as it is rather tasteless and somewhat hard.  However, the version here was pretty decent as far as raw abalone goes although I’m still not a huge fan of it.  7.25/10

Japanese Mackerel:

This was quite good; it had to nice richness from being an oily fish without having an overly fishy flavor that bad mackerel can have.  8.25/10


This was from San Diego.  It was rich, creamy and still had like slightly briny seawater flavor that I love.  8.25/10

Chopped Toro with Takuan (Pickled Daikon):

This was a nice addition to the meal.  The richness of the toro went well with the tartness of the takuan and the saltiness of the soy sauce.  8/10


This was served two ways, half with salt and half with the sweet eel sauce.  The flavor was good and the meat was nicely tender.  8/10

Kumamoto Oyster:

This was a simple oyster served with a ponzu sauce with scallions.  The oyster was fresh and pretty meaty and ponzu sauce is a great sauce for an oyster.  7.75/10

I liked Sushiden and the sushi is quite good although I don’t think it makes my list of top tier in NY, which I reserve for Yasuda, 15 East and Kuruma.  However, it is in that solid 2nd tier of sushi restaurants in NY.

123 W 49th St (between 6th and 7th Avenue)
New York, NY 10020
(212) 398-2800

Sushi Azabu – The Best Deal for Quality Sushi in Manhattan

I previously reviewed Sushi Azabu back in December 2010, so I’m going to skip a lot of details about the restaurant as you can read my previous review.

This review is all about their “Koi Course”, which consists of a small appetizer, 10 pieces of nigiri sushi and a miso soup for $35 per person.  Recently, I’ve been going here quite a bit to take advantage of the fact that Sushi Azabu is one of the better places for sushi in the city and this deal allows to have top quality sushi for a reasonable price (at least reasonable in sushi land).

The course is slightly different each time, but here’s what we got last time:

Hijiki Seaweed:

This was a small salad made up of shredded hijiki seaweed and a few pieces of diced carrots in a sauce made of soy sauce and sugar.  It was prepared nicely and the slightly sweet sauce complimented the hijiki seaweed perfectly.  8/10

Blue Fin Tuna:

This was a great piece of tuna.  The meat had great texture with the right amount of fat and was very tender.  The flavor was very nice and clean.  8.25/10


This was very nice as well, clean tasting with great texture. 8/10

Blue Fin Tuna:

I completely forgot to ask the chef where everything was from, but this was from somewhere different than the first piece, but it was excellent and tasted similar to the first piece. 8.25/10

Japanese Red Snapper:

Another clean tasting piece, it was mild as snapper always is, but it tasted very good. 8/10


Fluke is another fairly mild flavor fish that is more about the texture in my mind than the flavor.  This was a nice piece with good texture. 8/10


This was a really nice piece of salmon with a clean salmon flavor that was rich, but still had good texture. 8.25/10

King Salmon:

This was more mild flavored than the other piece of salmon, but was marbled beautifully so it was a little more melt in your mouth. It was very good as well. 8.25/10

Grilled Salmon:

This was great; it was a piece of salmon that they quickly blow torched.  I really liked the slightly smoky charred flavor that the blow torch gives it (this was so good that I later got a second piece). 8.5/10

Cooked Shrimp (Ebi):

Ebi is not my favorite sushi as it’s fairly bland, but the version here was good.  7.25/10


This was a nice scallop, the meat was sweet and the salt compliments it nicely.  8/10

Miso Soup:

I forgot to take a picture of this, but it was good miso soup.  It wasn’t overly salty and had a much better flavor than the packaged kind you get at a lot of Japanese restaurants in NY.  7.75/10

Overall, the meal was great.  I did order another 2 pieces of sushi after this, but it’s a great way to taste some of NY’s top tier sushi without completely destroying your wallet.

428 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-0428

Yuba Restaurant – A New Generation of Chefs and Excellent Innovative Japanese in the East Village

Yuba is a new Japanese restaurant that opened in the East Village.  I’d heard a little bit about it on, but not much else, which is sort of surprising given that one of the chefs is of Masa heritage.  However, one of my friends wrote a quick review on his Facebook page that was talking about how good and creamy the Kumamoto oysters were.  That piqued my interest and I decided to try it out on Sunday with my gf.

The two chefs-owners are George Ruan, who spent 5 years at Masa and Jack Wei.  They occupy the spot that formerly housed the now defunct Korean restaurant Sura.  While the restaurant is located in the East Village, which is generally busy, it happens to occupy a street that is fairly quiet and has little foot traffic.  So perhaps that’s why I haven’t heard much about it.

Normally, I’d be skeptical about two Chinese guys manning an upscale Japanese restaurant, which is not meant to be a racist comment, but rather I’m generally skeptical whenever the given ethnicity is not preparing the food as I find people often don’t know what the food is supposed to taste like and that would go for any given ethnicity.  However, given the backgrounds of the chefs, I was very curious how they would do.

The restaurant is small with a dining room laid out very cleanly and simply using mostly dark wood.  We decided to sit at the sushi bar as I always prefer to eat my sushi at the bar because of the short half life of sushi.  George mans the sushi bar, so we were able to speak to him extensively.  He’s very nice and knowledgeable about the food he’s serving; you can tell he paid his dues at Masa.

The service was good and attentive.  I was surprised how empty the place was although it was Sunday night and after eating there I was even more surprised at how a restaurant of this quality is not packed as I know many Japanese restaurants serving food a couple notches below this that are always packed.

Here’s what we ate:

Uni with Yuba:

This was a signature dish and also the namesake of the restaurant. Yuba is a tofu skin, but the way it is served here is much different than you’re probably imagining as it is silky, creamy and almost milky.  It was served layered with uni from Santa Barbara and topped with freshly grated wasabi and tosazu sauce, which is a type of bonito infused vinegar.  The combination of the creaminess of the uni and yuba was really good as the yuba doesn’t overpower the uni.  The fresh grated wasabi and the tosazu sauce really flavor it nicely without overpowering the flavor of the uni and yuba.  This was a great dish.  8.5/10

Oyster Caviar:

This was five Kumamoto oysters served with sturgeon caviar.  Since they were served so simply you can really taste the oyster’s flavor and creaminess and the caviar really just adds a nice bit of salt of the dish.  I really liked this although I think some people might be surprised that oysters have a certain amount of seafood flavor to them as most people don’t realize this because they tend to douse them in so much sauce they don’t actually know what they taste like. 8/10

Sweet Corn Tempura:

This was corn, maitake mushrooms and shiso leaf tempura.  The corn kernels and diced maitake are mixed together and put on top of the shiso leaf and then fried. This was really nice, the sweetness of the corn and the crispyness of the shiso went really well together.  It was perfectly fried and wasn’t oily at all. George said that in a month or so the corn will be in season and will really be sweet.  I thought this was innovative and delicious.  8.5/10

Duck with Foie Gras:

This was like a Cantonese Peking duck bun as it was served in steamed white bun (mantou) with the duck meat, some type of very thinly sliced white vegetable, foie gras and topped with hoisin sauce.  The major difference between this and a regular Cantonese Peking duck bun was that there were no spring onions or skin served and there was foie gras. The buttery foie gras complimented the dish well.  The meat from the duck was nicely cooked and quite tender.  I guess this was paying homage to their Chinese heritage as this is clearly not a Japanese dish, but it was good nonetheless.  8/10

Risotto with Uni:

This was uni (sea urchin) from Japan on a bed of risotto.  The risotto was good, it had a good al dente texture and the savory flavor went very well with the creamy uni.  The uni from Japan was a good pairing with the risotto as it’s not quite as creamy as the uni from CA and has a slightly stronger flavor and the risotto would have overpowered the uni from CA.  You can get it with shaved truffles, but we decided that we didn’t want that.  8.25/10


This was salmon sushi from Scotland.  This was a great piece of salmon; it was buttery with great flavor.  The rice was good, it had a nice al dente texture, it wasn’t quite Yasuda level and I’d say they use very slightly more vinegar, but it was good quality sushi rice. I was really pleasantly surprised by this first piece because I had no idea how the sushi would be and this compared favorably to the better places in the city. 8.5/10

Shima Aji:

Shima aji is stripped jack.  This was another very nice piece of fish, clean tasting, soft texture and delicious. 8/10


Kinmedai is golden eye snapper.  This actually tasted similar to the shima aji for some reason, but it was another very nice piece of fish.  8/10


Tai is red snapper.  Tai is a more mild tasting fish, but this was nice too. 7.75/10


This was needle fish.  I once caught one of these in Costa Rica by accident and if I had known they tasted good I would’ve kept it! Oh well.  This was surprisingly good with a nice clean flavor. 8.25/10


This was squid with salt and lemon zest.  Ika is one of those hit or miss because if it’s not from a good quality sushi place then it’s plain and sort of rubbery.  Luckily, it was very nice here, it had a tender, but firm texture and the salt and lemon zest are my favorite way to have ika.  8/10


This is giant clam.  Mirugai is not my favorite sushi, but I will eat it at good places. It had good texture where it was firm, but tender enough (mirugai can be borderline hard if it’s not a good piece). This was a good piece of mirugai. 7.75/10


This was scallop served with salt.  The scallop was really sweet and very tender.  I thought this was an excellent scallop.  8.25/10

King Crab with Caviar:

This was pretty self-explanatory, but king crab sushi is not my favorite sushi as I feel like crab meat has a hard time standing on its own.  The quality of the king crab and caviar was very good though.  7.5/10


This was sea urchin from Santa Barbara.  It was creamy and briny and I love uni from Santa Barbara, so I almost always love this if its good quality.  George said that it will be better in about a month or so when it’s a little more in season, but I thought it was delicious right now.  8.25/10


This was sea urchin from Japan.  I like Japanese uni, but not as much as uni from Santa Barbara as I don’t find it quite as cream and briny.  However, it was still very good.  8/10

Deep Sea Snapper:

George said this was a special fish and that we had to try this.  I’ve never had it before and he said it’s reasonably difficult to get.  This was probably the star of the night.  It had great flavor and was sort of buttery, but had a good texture at the same time.  The flavor was hard to describe, but I really liked this cut of fish. 8.5/10

Green Tea Millie Crepe:

George said that this is from a local Japanese bakery that makes this only for high end Japanese restaurants and it is not available retail.  I’ve actually had this exact dessert before in NY at other good Japanese restaurants.  Its paper thin layers of cake with a green tea mousse in-between them with green tea powder and whip cream on top.  It’s my type of dessert as I love green tea flavor and it’s not too sweet.  I thought it was delicious.  8/10

Overall, I was really impressed by Yuba.  I thought the appetizers / cooked dishes were wonderfully prepared and were a bit different than the norm.  I was particularly surprised at the quality of the sushi as it was up there with the better places in the city.  I also liked that an upcoming young duo of chefs is manning this place as it’s nice to see someone young with a lot of potential creating great food.  I highly recommend trying out Yuba.

105 E 9th St (between 3rd Ave & 4th Ave)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-8188

Niko – Solid New Sushi / Japanese Restaurant in Soho


I’ve been reading about Niko for some time as it has a bunch of well known people attached to it such as Hiro Sawatari who was formerly one of the top sushi chefs from Sushi Yasuda and Cobi Levy from defunct Charles.  I was pretty excited to try it since I’m always looking for new good sushi places and Yasuda is my favorite sushi place in the city.

The restaurant is located on the second floor in the space that formerly housed the now defunct Honmura An (RIP, Honmura An was my favorite soba spot in the city).  The décor is fairly minimalist with partially exposed brick walls.  The front end is the table area and the back area is the bar and the sushi bar.  It’s definitely got a bit of a hipper vibe than most sushi places as they have some music playing and the crowd is definitely a little more downtown chic.

I read on yelp about service problems, but our service was pretty good.  Our waiters did seem a little over stretched, but that’s likely growing pains from just opening.  Cobi came by and talked to us for a while and he was a nice guy.

We sat at the sushi bar in front of Nobu who is the 2nd sushi chef.  He was an extremely nice guy who just moved here from LA.  We talked to him quite a bit and he previously worked at Mori Sushi, which is arguably the best sushi place in LA.  He met Hiro eating at Morimoto’s in Philadelphia when he was visiting a friend and that’s how he ended up working here.

Anyhow, onto the food:

Tokyo Fried Chicken:

This was just chicken karaage.  However, I thought this was quite good.  The chicken was tender and flavorful, wasn’t overly oily and the batter was nicely seasoned.  It was served with a vinegar sauce and a sort of light sweet honey mustard, both sauces were good, but I preferred the vinegar sauce.  I like simple fried foods prepared correctly, so this was right up my alley.  8/10

Kanpachi (Yellowtail):

This was from Japan.  This was a good clean tasting piece of yellowtail, I liked it.  7.5/10


This was from North Carolina.  Fluke isn’t my favorite cut of fish, but this was clean tasting and good as well.  7.5/10

Big Eyed Tuna:

This was interesting as it was from Ecuador and I’ve never had tuna from Ecuador. The meat was a bit firmer than most big eyed tuna I’ve had, but it had good flavor and tasted fresh.  7.5/10

Japanese Mackerel:

This was from Japan. This was excellent, it had the nice oily-ness that good mackerel has, wasn’t overly fishy and had great flavor, one of my favorite pieces of the night.  8.25/10

Sea Bream:

This was from Japan.  This was interesting as I haven’t had sea bream that many times.  It was a nice piece of fish that was pretty mild flavored.  7.5/10

Sweet Potato Roll:

This was interesting. It was a thin handroll with fried Japanese sweet potato, shiso and one other green vegetable which I’m forgetting right now.  It was fried nicely and everything was fresh, but I wasn’t crazy about the combo of shiso and sweet potato. 6.75/10

Blue Fin Toro:

This was from Japan.  This was excellent, another one of the best pieces of the night.  The texture was “melt in your mouth” and the flavor was great.  This was as good as any of the top sushi places in NY.  8.25/10

Artic Char:

I like artic char a lot and it was good here.  Good clean flavors and nice texture.  7.75/10

Shima Aji:

This was a nice piece of shima aji (striped jack).  Surprisingly flavorful, I should’ve asked where it was from.  7.75/10

Umezuke Handroll:

This was mashed umezuke (a type of pickled plum-like fruit) with shiso.  I’m partial to ume because I grew up eating it, but I’m not sure how most people would feel about it as it’s fairly sour tasting, but it was good with the shiso.  This was not a typical sushi dish, but I liked it nonetheless.  7.5/10

Ikura Handroll:

The ikura (salmon eggs) were nice and this was pretty standard, but good.  7.5/10

Spanish Mackerel:

This was from North Carolina.  I liked this cut.  It was very clean tasting and good texture.  7.75/10

Unagi Shirayaki:

This was from Japan.  Unagi is fresh water eel, which is among my favorite sushi.  Because of Hiro’s Yasuda heritage I was hoping this would be good.  It was prepared simply with just some sea salt, which I like because you can taste the natural sweetness of the meat if it’s a good piece of eel.  This piece was good, the eel had good texture and great flavor not quite as good as Yasuda’s but definitely some of the better unagi I’ve had in the city.  8/10


This was the same thing, but prepared with sauce.  This was also good although I thought the piece with just salt was better.  7.5/10

Overall, I thought the food was very good.  I think Nobu said that they’d be getting other varieties of fish soon, so that would be nice.  Hopefully, they can fix some of the service problems that I read about on yelp as it’d be a shame if a place serving good food got taken down by service problems.  I’d like to sit in front of Hiro next time to see how he is as well.  I’d recommend trying this place out.

170 Mercer St (between Prince St & Houston St)
Manhattan, NY 10012
(212) 991-5650

Sushi Yasuda – Great Last Meal with Yasuda

When I read that Yasuda was leaving his namesake restaurant Sushi Yasuda to go back to Japan, I immediately picked up the phone and made a reservation in front of him because I knew if I didn’t do right then it’d end up being impossible to make a reservation in front of him.  Luckily I did because a week later I tried to make a 2nd reservation and he was completely booked for the next month.

Sushi Yasuda has been my “go to” sushi place in New York for many years.  The quality of the seafood is always outstanding (in particular their eel is by far the best in NY) and they definitely haves the best rice in NY.

Yasuda told me he is going back to Japan because his daughter will go to high school soon and they had to decide whether she would go to high school here or in Japan; he is 52 and he either needs to leave now or go when he is 57 and he decided he’d rather go now.  He plans on opening a small 8 seat sushi bar in Tokyo (forgot what district), but that is up in the air as of now as it’s hard to find a good space and it’s possible he may end up working for someone else.  He also said at this point in his career he just wants to perfect his craft and he needs to go to Japan to compete and learn at the highest level of competition.

Here’s what we got:

Fugu Kara-age (Fried Blowfish Appetizer):

This was listed as one of their special appetizers. It was perfectly fried pieces of blow fish with pickled grated daikon and scallions.  It was excellent, the batter was light, the fish meat was very tender and clean tasting.  8.25/10

Tsukemono (Pickles):

They gave you this as a start to the meal.  It was just a nice combo of slightly sweet pickled cucumber, seaweed and diced carrot.  7.75/10

Big Eyed Toro (Tuna Belly):

This was a nice way to start the meal off with a bang, this was one of best pieces of big eyed toro I’ve had in a while.  So buttery and delicious, it was a beautifully marbled piece of fish.   9/10

Uni (Sea Urchin):

This was from Santa Barbara.  Very clean tasting, creamy and a little bit briny.  Really good.  8.25/10

Blue Fin Toro (Tuna Belly):

This was also excellent, fatty although not quite as fatty as the big eyed toro and a beautiful piece of fish although it wasn’t quite as good as the big eyed toro.  8/10

Ebi (Cooked Shrimp):

I’m not the biggest fan of cooked ebi, but the version here was really nice and I loved the rock salt and squeeze of lemon on it.  8/10

Anago (Conger Eel):

Eel is one of my favorite Japanese foods and Yasuda really just blows the competition in NY out of the water.  The eel has such good texture and the meat is almost slightly sweet, I love the simple preparation of just being broiled with a dash of rock salt.  8.5/10

Hamachi (Yellowtail):

This was from Kyushu. Nice tender meat and a good flavor.  7.75/10

Spanish Mackerel:

I like Spanish mackerel a lot and the cut here was very nice and had a good clean taste.  8.25/10


A nice piece of fish although butterfish is a fairly plain tasting fish.  7.75/10

Farm Salmon:

This was a really nice piece of salmon, very clean tasting.  8/10

Wild Salmon:

I really liked the wild salmon, it was interesting that it really did taste different than the farm salmon and since they gave them to us at the same time you were able to really compare.  8.5/10

Snow Crab:

Crab sushi is not one of my favorite sushi because it generally ends up being sort of bland.  That said the version here was nice as the crab meat was quite sweet.  7.75/10


This was a great piece of mackerel and also one of the cleanest and least “fishy” tasting pieces of mackerel I’ve ever had.  8.25/10

Anago (Conger Eel):

I had to get another piece because it was so good. 8.5/10

Unagi / Shirayaki:

This is always one of my favorite things at Yasuda and it was so good again.  The quality of the meat and flavor is just so much better than everywhere else in NY.  8.5/10


Unfortunately they didn’t have Peace Passage oyster which is what I normally get.  However, this oyster was still quite good, I love the rock salt and lemon on it.  8/10

Big Eyed Toro:

I had to get another piece because it was so good. 9/10

Sentiment aside, I think this was the best meal I’ve had at Sushi Yasuda and my GF agreed with me.  Also fyi, they are not closing.  Mitsuru Tamura is going to be head sushi chef, I’ve eaten in front of him several times and he is excellent.  I’m sad Yasuda is leaving, but everything must come to an end.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in NY and I really hope they are able to maintain the high standard of food that I have come to enjoy.

204 E 43rd St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 972-1001

Sushi Azabu – One Of The Better Sushi Places In NY

Sushi Azabu is a strange place as it is located in the basement of the Greenwich Grill, both of which are owned by the same people.  Greenwich Grill is an Italian restaurant, but has a Japanese twist since it is owned by Japanese people.  They are located on a very quiet and residential part of Greenwich Street in Tribeca.  It feels odd when you walk in because you have to walk through Greenwich Grill, which is a modern, but nice looking restaurant, down a dark staircase which takes you into a dark basement.  The sushi bar is located in the basement.  The sushi bar has a nice minimalist light wood exterior with a long banner at the back with a fish logo on it.  There are also 3 or 4 booths to sit in as well.

I’ve been coming here as a 3rd option to my go to sushi places of Yasuda and 15 East when I decide to switch it up.  There are always two sushi chefs, both of whom are quite nice, but their English is not very good.  The service is attentive and nice, but they sometimes stumble over each other as they have microphone headsets and message to one another, but I think a lot of things get lost in that system as there are too many waiters.

This time we got the omakase because a friend was in town.  I normally get the sushi dinner as it is the roughly the equivalent of the sushi omakase at Yasuda and 15 East.  However, I think the omakase was a mistake because it was too much food and I prefer more sushi as opposed to getting a lot of non-sushi dishes which they give you.  I also brought someone with very little “real” sushi eating experience (think spicy tuna roll type experience) and I think I scared the crap out of him because a lot of it was not plain jane tuna type of stuff, I may have forever turned him off to sushi…oh well.

Renkon (Lotus Root):

This was sliced renkon that had been cooked in a sauce that had soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine) in it.  This was excellent; the sweetness of the sauce went really well with the renkon that was perfectly cooked.  The renkon still had a bit of crisp to it, but was not overcooked either.  8.25/10

Kaki (Giant Oyster):

This was kaki from Washington State.  This is one of the largest oysters I’ve ever seen.  It’s actually cut into 10 pieces when you get it because it is so big.  It’s covered in ponzu sauce with minced pickled daikon and scallions on top.  I thought it was pretty good, but I think some people would be turned off by it since I don’t think a lot of people know what oysters actually taste like because they douse them with cocktail or other types of sauces.  Even the best oysters have a certain seafood flavor to them that I find a lot of Americans tend to not like and bigger oysters like these tend to have a bit of a stronger flavor to them.  I ended up eating my friend’s because he was too scared to eat it.  That said these are good and clean tasting, but not amazing.  7/10

Sashimi Plate:

The sashimi plate consisted of Aji (Horse Mackerel) from Japan, Otoro (fattiest part of the tuna belly), Buri (Japanese Amberjack) from Japan and Mirugai (Geoduck).  Otoro: very buttery and good.  8/10; Aji: I love horse mackerel and it was good here, for those who don’t know horse mackerel is much less fishy than regular mackerel.  8/10; Buri: I didn’t love the buri, it had a decent flavor though.  7/10; Mirugai: I don’t love mirugai as I find it a bit on the bland side.  7/10

Uni (Sea Urchin):

This was uni from Maine.  This was excellent, clean and briny flavor.  You could really taste the flavor as it was served plain; I ended up eating my friend’s because he was too scared to eat it. 8/10

Cooked Buri (Japanese Amberjack):

This was really good, it was cooked buri in a light soy sauce that I believe may have had some mirin in it because it was slightly sweet topped with scallions and grated daikon.  The buri tasted pretty buttery and it was just a really good dish.  8.25/10

Chawan Mushi (Savory Egg Custard):

This is a savory egg custard with shrimp, mushroom, edamame (soy bean) and chicken in it.  The version here was pretty good.  7.75/10

Salmon With Cucumber:

This was cooked salmon with ikura (salmon egg) and a cucumber puree over it.  It was pretty good, but not amazing.  7.25/10

Otoro (Fattiest Part of the Tuna Belly):

This was otoro from Carolina (not sure which one).  This was very good, super buttery and tender.  The sushi rice is also quite good here. 8.25/10

Shima Aji (Horse Mackerel):

This was from Japan.  It was a good clean tasting piece of fish.  7.75/10

Katsuo (Skipjack Tuna):

This was from Japan.  This was topped with a little horse radish and scallion.  It was a bit fishier tasting, but in a good way.  7.75/10

Botan Ebi (Sweet Shrimp):

This was pretty good, the shrimp was sweet and tasted very fresh. 7.75/10

Sanma (Pacific Saury):

This was very good, it was topped with horse radish and scallions.  The fish had an excellent flavor.  8/10

Tako (Octopus):

This was surprisingly good tako, I don’t really like tako sushi generally because it’s pretty bland tasting, but the texture here was excellent as it was quite tender.  8/10


The chef knew I like uni sushi so I got another round of the uni from Maine.  8/10

Ikura (Salmon Eggs):

Pretty standard, but good quality ikura.  7.75/10

Anago (Sea Eel):

Anago is conger eel, the version here is good, but not nearly as good as Yasuda.  7.75/10


Kampyo (Gourd):

Kampyo is a type of gourd that I believe has been pickled.  It’s fairly sweet, it was good here, but it almost always tastes the same anywhere where it is made reasonably fresh.  7.5/10

Kani Miso Soup (Crab Miso Soup):

I didn’t like the version here that much, the soup was fine, but I don’t think it was nearly as good as the version at Nippon in midtown.  7/10

Overall, I liked it, but I’d stick with just getting the sushi dinner as opposed to the omakase as the omakase is too much food and I prefer their sushi to their non-sushi dishes.  I would recommend coming here though for sushi.

428 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-0428