Posts Tagged ‘sushi’

Sushi Azabu, New York
Michelin stars: 1
Addr: 1428 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013, USA
URL: http://www.sushi-azabu.com/
Phone: +1 212-274-0428
Type of cuisine: Japanese (mainly a sushiya serving traditional Edo-Mae sushi)

In a city with many  great Japanese sushi Chefs, there is a sushiya for all kind of diners (the one who likes luxury, the one who does not, etc). My ideal sushiya has a great sushi Master at the helm, of course, and a decor that is intimate. A service that is great. A genuine feel of  Japan.  In New York, as far as top sushiya goes, Sushi Azabu is that ‘ONE’ for me. 

01 In NYC, you have Masa, which according to their local sushi experts,  is on top of the roof of their top tier sushiyas. Then, you have their other elite sushiyas , such as Nakazawa,  Yasuda, Azabu, 15 East. I tried Yasuda (I was missing the superb knife skills as well as the superior  work of the textures that I better enjoyed at other sushiyas in Nyc) and 15 East (I find Azabu better, in comparison, but 15 East had couple of noteworthy food items)  in 2015. Never tried Nakazawa, Masa and Jewel Bako. It is NYC, so keep in mind  that the price tag (therefore the cost performance, especially in comparison to what you can get in Japan at equal cost) will oftently be the issue.

I tried Azabu on Saturday Febr 4th 2017.
I picked the larger omakase and they fed my girlfriend on shrimp tempura and wagyu beef steak
The 1st course comprising of a piece of amberjack and salmon:
02Marinated Amberjack was seasoned exquisitely. As expected, from a kitchen of this quality, the marinating technique is flawless, its timing well judged. It came with a delicious piece of mushroom. (9/10)
03Smoked salmon boasted vibrant texture, the quality fish expressing plenty of complex joyous flavors 9/10
05Then an array of seafood items composed of octopus  (8/10 superb chew and texture), A first-rate piece of perfectly tenderized  abalone  which kept its maritime flavor at the forefront (9/10), amberjack and fluke and shrimp of impeccable quality. The wasabi is freshly grated wasabi root imported from Japan. This was a first-rate collection of sushis, even by the standard of a mid level sushiya in Tokyo.
06My current girlfriend  ordered some shrimp tempura which she had nothing to complain about.  I can see how extraordinarily lighter such  batter could be in the hands of a specialist of the tempura, but Azabu is a sushiya, not a specialist of the tempura, and the batter was still very well executed, the tempura light and tasting delicious,  (8/10).

07She also had her wagyu  beef steak, which was fine but both her and myself do regard wagyu as a (generally) vastly overrated meat. The finest Wagyu I had in Japan have  not changed my opinion about that, as already debated here.

08My tasting menu continued with some utterly fresh uni from Hokkaido  –the firmer bafun uni on the left, the creamier murasaki on the right — as tiny as I remember them from the last time I had them in Japan. As explained elsewhere on this blog, I prefer some of the sea urchin from the mediterranea and California. But Hokkaido’s uni are among world’s best, for sure, with, this time, the murasaki standing out for its sweeter flavor. Sometimes, it is the bafun uni that can be the sweetest of the two 8/10
09Then a tasting of  lean, medium fatty and  torched fatty tuna. The quality, high, as expected. This, too, would not be out of place at a serious mid level sushiya in Tokyo. 8/10
10King crab miso – the flavor and aroma of this particular miso preparation lifting up the flavor of the grilled crab remarkably well. Eventful 8/10
11Then the “Chef’s choice of nigiris” featuring flawless sea urchin/tuna/scallop/salmon/salmon roe/squid/wagyu beef. The fish sliced with precision (even world class Sawada was caught with one or two pieces that were imprecisely sliced ..and that happened at other highly regarded sushiyas of NYC, too), the rice served at body temperature (my preference), the proper pressure applied to the relevant rice/topping combination, the rice not overseasoned, i.e., not too vinegary.  The sushi rice, which subtle  sweet and umami flavor notes went so well with the toppings,  is  from Tsuyahime from Yamagata prefecture. Again, even for a mid level sushiya  in Tokyo, this would be excellent. 9/10
12As part of the previous Chef’s selection of  nigiris, there was also a piece of tamago that I did regard as a benchmark of its kind. I liked it so much that I ordered 3 of them. As I wrote elsewhere on this blog, even some of the  best mid level sushiyas of Tokyo did not always deliver tamago that have impressed me, although the tamago will always be a matter of personal taste given the different types of tamago you will find at sushiyas. Either the umami flavor is  more present, or it is balanced with the sweet taste of the tamago,  or its focus is on the eggy flavor, etc.  I am fonder of the sweet kind of tamago. Azabu’s tamago is of the sweet kind, executed with great finesse, the fresh eggy aroma exciting on the palate, sweet like the one I had at sushi mizutani, as technically well crafted, but bigger in size and which I much preferred  (eventhough Mizutani’s featured a more complex set of nuanced flavors and  eggs of surreal quality) 10/10
13A miso that is a first-rate version of its kind, the taste enriched by the subtle nuances of the remarkable kind of miso they are using. (10/10)
14We ended the meal with some flawlessly textured home made green tea ice cream (for me) and an equally excellent Mochi and Vanilla / chocolate ice cream for her (9/10). I ordered the Mochi for my girlfriend to introduce her to the importance of textures in food for the Japanese.  There was a strawberry that came with her dessert, but I forgot to ask if it also came from Japan. The last time I was in Japan, I did try some of their most celebrated (consequently expensive) strawberries and left unimpressed. They tasted as good as any strawberry anywhere else on planet earth (which is exactly how this one at Azabu tasted like, too).
Pros: Azabu deserves to be considered among NYC’s top tier sushiyas. It is also a proper 1 star Michelin sushiya outside of Japan. Its does not have the tsukiji market in its vincinity but they import their fish from Japan. The knife as well as overall cooking skills  is strong for this  category of  sushiya (comparable to a respectable mid level sushiya if this would be in  Tokyo), the tiny space so cozy, the service genuinely hospitable.
Cons: N/A
15 Overall food rating (categ: top tier sushiya in NYC) 8/10 – Top shelf sushiya in its category.  Just remember that there are two seatings per night (we had our table available till  08:30 pm, therefore i presume that the first seating  is from 05:30pm till 08:30 pm) and that its sushis are of the classic sort  (no experimental sushi here).
What do I think days later: One of the foodie friends who has recommended Azabu told me to expect excellent sushi but not unparralleled one. Azabu was exxellent, indeed,  as they fed me, up to now, with some of the best sushis that I ever had in NYC. As ever, restaurants do sometimes change some items on their menus, as I noticed, in old online reviews, that they once had a tamago similar to a creme brulee at Azabu. I doubt that such tamago would have the same impact as this tamago that deserved my praises, but I can only talk about the food they served me, of which I admired the precise slicing of the fish and assured technique in virtually everything (marinating, smoking, coaxing delicious flavors, etc). Based on what I came to expect from a 1 star Michelin sushiya outside of Japan, Azabu did impress by not sticking to a safe/correct performance as it is so common at the big majority of eateries in North America. This was clearly the work of skilled Chefs with their personal imprint rather than some dudes replicating whatever someone else has asked them to simply replicate properly. Sushi Azabu also knows how to make the experience of a diner enjoyable, as, to take an example, there is no need for all parties of the same table to partake in a tasting menu. I can have my tasting menu while my girlfriend enjoys whatever she wants to eat. And here, there was not one single rotten apple that happened to find his way in the service with the sole intent of ruining your appreciation of the dining experience and the superb work of the rest of his team  as it was the  case during my last visit at another 1 star Michelin, Torishin. Was my foodie friend right when he mentioned that Azabu was not unparralled? If you find a 1 star Michelin that is unparralled, then it is a 3 star Michelin. Lol.  Unparralled is what you should expect at a 3 star Michelin, not 1, and yet a fraction of the 3 stars are unparralled. I loved sushi Azabu.
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Sushi Yasu, La Prairie

Posted: April 9, 2014 in sushi, sushiya
Tags: , ,

Restaurant: Yasu
Type of cuisine:  Sushiya, essentially but they also have  more
Where: 835 Chemin de Saint Jean,  La Prairie
When:  Tuesday  April 8th 2014 19:00
(450) 659-1239
URL: http://www.sushiyasu.ca/

SUSHI YASU, LA PRAIRIE (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For what it’s worth, Yasu is widely known as the place where Japanese, in Montreal, go. What’s certain is that, along with Jun I, this is one very rare Mtl’s (and surroundings / it is actually in Southshore Montreal) sushi place  with a real Japanese sushi Master at the helm (most sushiyasans in Montreal are mostly Vietnamese or Chinese). Yasu has nowadays two locations: one in Brossard and the other one in Laprairie. The original Japanese Sushi Master is now working at the one in Laprairie, which is where I went

My visit here is about the sushi (obviously), but I also ordered couple of non-sushi items just to get a better general impression of the depth of the cooking at Yasu.

As ever in Montreal’s & surrounding sushiyas, as great as they might stand (by local standards, I mean), there won’t be any attempt at surprising the customer with freshly grated  wasabi root, so wasabi in its paste form is the norm. The gari (pickled ginger)  was properly made though.

SUSHI YASU, LA PRAIRIE _ MENUAs some non-sushis items I was particularly interested by how they make their tempura as well as the takoyaki balls. Those are two items that I am curious about in order to assess very precise elements of the cooking skills of such place.

-The tempura: I have read reports about theirs being standard. The soft shell crab tempura that I had ($8) were actually  below average with barely no  taste coming through. The crab taste nowhere to be found. It was frustrating to eat a tempura of such subpar standard since this is hardly an item that fails to please. Plenty of ordinary oriental eateries in town get this better    3/10

SUSHI YASU, LA PRAIRIE - OCTOPUS BALLS

 

 

 

 

 

The Takoyaki Balls (dumplings with octopus pieces, $5 for 6 pieces) featured underwhelming takoyaki sauce that managed to have barely any flavor. Another frustrating moment since takoyaki sauce is one of the main elements that helps lifting the taste of those balls. Here, it had the color but no taste at all of whatever version of the takoyaki sauce you’ll stumble upon. Even more frustrating was the taste of the mayonnaise:  a low grade type of mayo that  I will remember for having diminished the enjoyment of it all. The light batter was the saving grace of this badly conceived takoyaki ball.  2/10

 

SUSHI YASU - SASHIMIS AND SUSHIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sushis:  red tuna looked and tasted fresh, the Chef being very generous as the chunks of red tuna were sizeable compared to what’s generally served in Montreal and surroundings. Salmon was fine. Unagi was of great quality (by Montreal sushi standards) and I wondered how come such nicely executed unagi sauce was sharing the same roof as the above mentioned  forgettable sauce that covered the Takoyaki Balls.  Spiced salmon was exciting in mouth (not many sushiyas get those this right).  Some might not like the fact that the rice was mushy, but texture of rice boils down to what you prefer (some like their rice soft, others hard, etc). That said, this was no fine sushi rice neither and I am talking about local standards.  Still, by local standards  7/10 for the sushis and sashimis

Service was good

My verdict:  5/10 Some of the sushis were fine (by local standards), but I don’t understand how they could fail at delivering items as basic as a   tempura or a  takoyaki ball.  Needless to stress that I was disappointed by this meal at Yasu. The Master Chef is perhaps very popular among Japanese people  (according to most online accounts) but such meal is not consequent with his fame. Yes, I can see why this place is popular: the prices are low…but I went  south shore to sample the food of a great Chef, NOT the evidence that the food is affordable….