I don’t do a lot of documentaries, but Jiro Dreams of Sushi has to be one of my favorites. The artistry, cinematography, and simplicity of its story telling can make anyone fall in love with sushi. I definitely wanted to run out and eat some sushi after watching it. I think The Annoyer probably felt even stronger about the documentary, being an avid sushi lover. So it sorta sucked when we missed out on our once-in-a-lifetime chance to dine at Sukiyabashi Jiro during our trip to Tokyo. So our trip to NYC was going to be another chance to get close to the Jiro experience. Sushi Nakazawa was opened by his apprentice, Daisuke Nakazawa. The story goes that a young restauranteur from the Bronx watched the Jiro documentary and used Google translate to send Nakazawa a message on Facebook. After a few visits together, a deal was struck and Sushi Nakazawa was born. It’s only been open a few years, but the place is doing very well. Its 10 seat sushi bar is probably THE HARDEST reservation I’ve landed in recent memory. It took me 2 tries on 2 consecutive nights to stalk Open Table. I was unsuccessful. With the help of 2 friends, we tried for a third night and were able to snag a Sunday night reservation.
The place is sleek, modern, and nothing short of beautiful. To our disappointment, Chef Nakazawa was not helming the sushi bar that night.
I’ll keep the descriptions light if any.
A good start.
Hay Smoked Sockeye Salmon
A very memorable piece due to its deep smokey aroma. Unique.
Soy Marinated King Salmon
I started to get distracted by the aggressively seasoned rice here. It was too salty, but not as salty as Harutaka.
Scallop yuzu pepper
Clean and delicious.
Squid shiso leaf, plum sauce
The slippery smooth texture was the most memorable aspect.
Ishidai bard knifejaw, dehydrated cherry blossom
Not a fish I’ve ever had, but it tasted like a clean white fish. The cherry blossom did not have any noticeable flavor.
Kinmedai lemon, salt
Golden eye snapper is beginning to be a favorite of mine. Nakazawa refers to it as “butter of the sea” and it surely was high quality here.
Sawada spanish mackerel, sansho pepper
The fish is subtly seasoned. Maybe that’s why the rice kept distracting me with its saltiness.
When I see that silver scaly skin I always jump a bit. Mackerel or saba is truly what I fear, so the aji was quite the opposite. Not an ounce of fishiness to be had here.
Buri wild yellowtail
Quite a bit different than the regular yellowtail, more clean and less fatty.
Dungeness Crab crab miso
The crab miso was an interesting use of the crab guts with miso. It provided delicious umami flavor. The char was a nice plus.
Tiger Prawn cured in egg yolk, vinegar
The shrimp was large. The cured egg yolk and vinegar were very subtle. I would say the chef could have done a lot more with such a marvelous prawn.
Nakazawa definitely showcases some interesting fish that are not commonly found in the US as well as different flavorings. Albacore is almost alway served with ponzu, minced ginger and green onions. This had to have been a different type of albacore because it was more fatty. It was pretty good.
The leanest of the 3, still very tasty.
Fattier and more enjoyable.
The fattiest and extremely decadent.
Santa Barbara Uni
I’ve firmly concluded that Santa Barbara uni is king. It is much sweeter and satisfying than its Japanese counterpart.
Very easily the best piece of the night.
A hunking generous piece of eel.
Nakazawa’s claim to fame from the Jiro movie was the tamago. This was easily one of the best tamago I’ve eaten. It had a great balance between being eggy, cakey, and sweet.
The Annoyer added one more piece. I didn’t get to try it, but he gave it a thumbs up.
Happy birthday to me! The lychee sorbet was aromatic and not too sweet.
There’s no denying the sushi at Nakazawa is both interesting and high quality. There are fish here that I’ve never had before. Everything was clean, but maybe too clean. Nothing was particularly “wow” except for the usual suspects (toro, wagyu, golden eye, uni, etc). The rice was the real fault point here. It was distractingly over seasoned. It was too salty for my tastes. Perhaps this is the way it is done in Japan? I cannot be sure. Either way, I definitely expected to walk away feeling more impressed. Instead, I was just satisfied and content. It’s not cheap by any means, but its reasonable. I wished I had loved it more, but I am happy to say that I won’t need to fly 3000 miles for great sushi. Better sushi can be found only a 15 minute drive from my house at OoToro.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here