After having dinner in the Sushi Nakazawa dining room two weeks ago, I decided I needed to get back to Commerce Street to have dinner at the sushi counter. So I kept an eye out for openings and secured a reservation for last Monday. I had been told that dinner at the bar is remarkably better than in the dining room(particularly with regards to the integrity of the fare). I wasn’t mislead. Though many of the fish selections and preparations bordered on identical to the week before, the difference between a piece straight from Chef Nakazawa’s hand and a piece that has been plated, sat on the pass, and walked through the room is like night and day. The temperature contrasts make all the difference.
I met my buddy MCL out front just before dinner time and enjoyed the sunshine on a bench until the doors opened promptly at 5:00. We took our corner seats at the counter, ordered up some sake, and got the party started.
Cherry Salmon. From Hokkaido. Supple richness with a good amount of wasabi spice to start off.
Smoked Blackmouth Chinook. From Washington. With some light peppery heat.
Sea Scallop. ‘Dancing Scallop!’ as Chef called it. From Maine. Acidic, spicy yuzu pepper contrasted nicely against the sweet flesh. Likewise, the cool scallop was great over the warm rice.
Giant Clam. Washington geoduck. A brief torching warmed the clam and gave a bit of sweetness from the caramelized soy.
Sea Bream. From Awaji Island. A real beauty. Subtly funky from ground daikon. A few days later at work MCL recalled this as the most impressive piece for him.
Golden Eye Snapper. Shizuoka Kinmedai. With lemon and sea salt. Tender, fatty mouthfeel.
Barred Knifejaw. Ishidai. Clean taste. Cool temperature.
Horse Mackerel. Kagoshima Aji. Gracefully pure for mackerel. One of my favorite pieces again.
Sardine. Straight forward sardine. The taste always takes my memory back to bars in coastal Spain.
Pickled Mackerel. Aged seven days. With just enough Japanese mustard to support the fish and almost go unnoticed.
Octopus. From Kanagawa. Massaged 45 minutes.
Tiger Prawn. From Madagascar. Boiled briefly. More rich than sweet tasting this time.
Wild Yellowtail. I think from Oita.
Smoked Bonito. Impeccably, unmistakably smoky. But just enough so to balance well with the fish.
Lean Bluefin Tuna. From Boston. Lovely, pure flavor.
Soy Marinated Medium Fatty Bluefin Tuna. With Japanese mustard. A very pretty bite.
Fatty Bluefin Tuna. Super oily and lightly torched.
Sea Urchin Santa Barbara. Hard not to like this. The uni was smooth and cool and was superb as it warmed in the mouth.
Soy Marinated Chum Salmon. A radical combination of textures and savory layers.
Sea Eel. A decent enough piece of eel with eel sauce.
Egg Omelette. Again a delightfully light, sweet, and savory egg custard.
Santa Barbara and Maine Sea Urchin. When we were asked if we wanted to repeat or add any bites, MCL asked for more uni. Chef Nakazawa asked us if we wanted Santa Barbara again or Maine. I said both. It was the right move I think.
Yuzu Sorbet. With berries. The blackberry on the bottom was frozen solid 😦
A couple bottles of sake for the evening.
Chef Daisuke Nakazawa looking for pictures of fish to show us.
Date of meal: March 31, 2014
Sushi Nakazawa. 23 Commerce St. NYC 212.924.2212 www.sushinakazawa.com