How do you decide where to go? A colleague of mind has invited me to a dinner at one of two different sushi-yas in NYC and I’m in a quandary. They are both top rated, traditional restaurants and I’ve heard great things about both. The problem is that I have no frame of reference.
That may sound odd, but when it comes to sushi, it’s very particular and the differences are established by presentation, freshness, and creativity. These are not things that can be judged without having been there. It’s easy to arrive at a restaurant and say ‘Oh My God, I’m leaving’ (as I did when I saw a rat walk casually up to me in an Indian restaurant about 10 years ago). But when it looks good and sounds good, It’s impossible to tell the difference between two dedicated sushi joints without having the experience oneself.
When it comes to sushi, especially, what is ‘good’ is really determined by ones preferences. Some folks like uni and can judge excellent quality in a piece. To others, it’s a slimy goo (which is practically blasphemy, IMHO). The point is, I hear they are good restaurants, but will they satisfy this sushi otaku?
I think there’s only one way to find out. I’ll flip a coin, head on over and ask for the ‘omakase.’ There is no better way to test an itamae’s abilities and see what a restaurant can offer. Then, I’ll have to mosey on over to the other one (perhaps I’ll invite him) and do the same. then compare.
There is no other type of food that is so personal an experience than sushi. I love items that my wife won’t touch. Everyone has their favorites, and with the variety of flavors and textures that sushi offers, it’s not hard to find something you like. But finding something that you will mortgage your soul for (I can’t sell it outright) is truly a unique experience, and for some people, this is it. For others, it’s just a dinner. But the experience that a particular sushi restaurant offers is what makes this type of dining so very personal.
The Sushi Guy.