Showing posts with label sushi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sushi. Show all posts


Superb Sushi on Smith

I could live on sushi, no joke. There's something about it that is so different from any other cuisine; perhaps it's the freshness or the fact that something so simple could taste so good, but I love it. So when I was invited to Aji 53 in Cobble Hill for dinner, of course I said yes!

Co-owner Kevin welcomed my friend and I on a cold January evening and proceeded to trick us into thinking it was summer with some sake sangria. I was a little hesitant at first because I'd never thought to mix rice wine with fruit, but the combination actually works quite well!

Sake Sangria
Our couple of courses, served by an adorable waitress who had the most clever t-shirt on (it was a picture of a smiling bowl soup with chopsticks in it and a word bubble saying "Miso happy!"), were not on the menu. Seasonality dictates what kind of fish the restaurant can order, Kevin explained. So while they will always stock staples like salmon, tuna and yellowtail, certain specialties are not always available. With that said, we had the Bonito (seared baby tuna served with fresh wasabi yuzu sauce) and Yellowtail Shots (sliced yellowtail sashimi wrapped around grilled whitefish, asparagus and lime sauce in a shot glass). The fresh wasabi on the bonito was like nothing I'd ever had before and I would highly recommend you make an effort to try some. This was not your typical pistachio green paste. The Yellowtail shots were incredible too. The mix of the raw and grilled fishes was unexpected, as were the asparagus and lime.

Yellowtail Shots

Next we had our first off-the-menu, the Ocean River ($11) which included spicy lobster and avocado wrapped in salmon and served with ponzu sauce and truffle oil (something I'd never expect to find in a Japanese restaurant, but was perfectly satisfied with the result). This was probably the most typical sushi house appetizer we had, but still very different. I really liked it!

Ocean River

Next, we were taken on a worldwide tour of food, but always hearkening back to the influence of Japan. First up was the Blue Crab Fajita ($10), although it seemed like more of a quesadilla to me, it was comprised of fresh blue crab meat, red onion and cream cheese in a tortilla and baked. I'm not typically a fan of cream cheese in my sushi (whoever invented the Philadelphia Roll was clearly not in their right mind), but this worked. Maybe because it was baked? Maybe because this wasn't really sushi? I don't know.

Blue Crab Fajita

We also sampled the Aji Sandwich ($11), by far the most unique sushi menu item we had. It was eggplant tempura (reminiscent of eggplant parmesan) layered with spicy lobster, spicy tuna and salmon sashimi all glazed with miso sauce. YUMMO!!

Aji Sandwich

In his initial invitation, Kevin talked up the slow braised, sake marinated Beef Short Ribs ($11), and I was excited to try them. The verdict was a thumbs up from both my friend and I, but they are a bit heavy so I would not recommend eating them after a whole bunch of other appetizers like we tried to do. I felt bad even leaving one bite of these because they were delicious, but the dish was very rich and I had to put my fork down especially since I knew we weren't done yet.

Beef Short Ribs

We couldn't leave a sushi bar without trying at least one specialty roll, ok make it two. We had the Boerum Hill Roll (price n/a; spicy crunch scallop and cucumber topped with salmon and avocado and served with yuzu aioli) and the Aji King Roll ($15; king crab, avocado and shrimp roll tempura fried and then sliced, topped with spicy tuna or spicy yellowtail and served with the chef's special sauce).

Sushi Rolls

Aji 53 is a solid sushi option among the many restaurants on Smith Street. It's got something for everyone, whether you're a traditional sushi type of diner or someone who's willing to take risks and mix cuisines. The prices were affordable, the service was superb and the restaurant was spacious and eye catching. I would watch out for the bathroom lock, however, as it didn't seem to quite work for me and I ended up holding the door while I was in there. One small glitch, however, I would highly recommend Aji 53!

Aji 53 on Urbanspoon


Sushi Omakase Style

If I was stranded on a desert island and had to pick one food to eat forever, it would probably be sushi. It's just so good. And New York City offers unlimited options for planning a raw-fish dinner. In my neighborhood, I usually head over to Chinatown East for their fresh, $1 a piece sushi option or for a nicer meal, my boyfriend and I will make a reservation at the Gramercy gem, Azuki Sushi for an affordable meal with free hot sake. 

I love trying new places as well. So when the lifestyle site Daily Candy offered a Tasting Menu for four at Haru Gramercy for $60, I gathered three girlfriends and we had a Wednesday night outing. Ever since taking a sake class at New York Vintners, I can't get enough of the rice-based brew and I love sharing my knowledge with friends. I started with a flight which included four sakes -- Reiko, Nigori, Karatumba and Suishin. If you've never tried Nigori, it's basically unfiltered sake so it has a cloudy appearance but is full of flavor. I'd highly recommend. One of my friends ordered a sake cocktail called the Momotini. With sake and peach puree, this drink is a little awkward to order, but luscious and relaxing to enjoy.

Sake Flight
The Momotini
The meal was served omakase style, basically Japanese for chef's choice. We started with sushi fish tacos. Served with lime, these tacos were a nice fusion dish that brought back wonderful memories of family vacations to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico while fulfilling my desire for excellent texture and succulent flavors.

Sushi Fish Tacos
Next, our server brought out a platter of different appetizers -- Crispy Calamari with spicy peanut sauce, Grilled Spicy Garlic Shrimp marinated in hot chili sauce, Tuna Tataki seared with avocado salad and spicy soy vinaigrette, and Shrimp Spring Rolls. With four of everything, we didn't have to fight over any of the food and still were able to try a bunch of different things. The shrimp were delicious, served with soba noodles. The avocado served with the tuna was perfectly ripe, just the way I like it and the tuna was so fresh, it could have been swimming yesterday. The calamari was light, unlike typical fried and breaded calamari. I think the pieces could have been coated in panko instead of batter. The spring rolls were full of flavor and I was happy to have some veggies with this meal.

Appetizer Platter
After clearing our appetizer plate, our server brought out this beautiful and colorful platter of sushi. With a mix of traditional tuna and salmon sushi pieces, we also got two unique rolls. The first was the Kiss of Fire Roll -- with super white tuna, salmon, jalapeƱo peppers and wasabi tobiko wrapped around crunchy spicy tuna and more jalapeƱos. This was definitely spicy, but super innovative, again bringing in the element of fusion. The second roll, although I don't remember what it was called, was filled with crab and topped with two different kinds of roe. This was a nice compliment to the other roll as it calmed the spice.

Sushi Platter
Not to end the night without a New York moment, we spotted Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern sitting alone at the sushi bar clad in a neon orange winter hat and surely eating something exotic.

Celebrity Spotting: Andrew Zimmern at the sushi bar
For $15 a person, this meal was a spectacular deal. The quality of the food was top notch and the service was attentive and personable. With several locations throughout the city and in Boston and Philadelphia, it's nice to know that an excellent sushi meal is just around the corner. Have you been to Haru? What do you think?

Haru on Urbanspoon