Tag Archives: sushi

Sushi Ganso

ganso

[Edit: As of October 4th, 2016, Ganso Yaki and Sushi Ganso are both gone-so. I happened to have been at Yaki on October 3rd, and they gave no indication whatsoever of their imminent closing. They’d just redone their menu, too. So heartbroken.]

Right next to Ganso Yaki is Sushi Ganso, which serves—you guessed it—a whole bunch of sushi. Now, I don’t love this place as much as I love Ganso Yaki, but it certainly isn’t bad, and I do believe it deserves a post of its own. So: Sushi Ganso. Here goes.

I’ve only been to (read: sat within the technical walls of) Sushi Ganso once, but I’m pretty familiar with their food, as I’ve ordered off their menu from next door quite a few times. Actually, I much prefer to do just that (eat at Ganso Yaki and order a few things off Sushi Ganso’s menu, that is), but this post is about eating at Sushi Ganso, so I suppose I’ll have to focus on doing that for now.

Now, I’m about to say some moderately negative things about Sushi Ganso, so I want to put some of its positives out there first: They have a nice selection of fish. Their food is true to what it should be, and there isn’t any of that weird whose-idea-was-this bullshit on the menu. It’s a small and relatively quiet restaurant, but it doesn’t feel cramped, and the atmosphere’s pleasant and laid-back. It’s easy to get to, it’s rarely crowded, and the service is good.

Okay, moving on.

When I went, I tried the hirame usuzukuri (thin-sliced fluke with ponzu sauce) and two specials recommended to us by our server: the tuna tataki and the soft-shell crab. I also ordered a bunch of sushi (by the piece) and rolls, too, hoping all that would be enough to food to satisfy three hungry people.

The tuna tataki and the soft-shell crab came out first. Neither was all that memorable, but I definitely preferred the crab to the tuna, which was ice-cold and unimpressive, flavor-wise. I did like the usuzukuri, though—but it’s worth noting that I’ve never disliked anything that’s been dipped in ponzu sauce. In all, though, these three dishes were unremarkable; they weren’t bad, but they didn’t exactly leave me wishing for more, either.

ganso1

10 minutes later, I’d forgotten all about our appetizers—the giant plates of fish had arrived, and it was time to ogle. We’d ordered otoro (fatty tuna), uni (sea urchin), salmon, mackerel, ikura (salmon roe), and ika (squid), and my personal favorite thing in existence: a negi-toro roll (fatty tuna with scallions). Unfortunately, though, Sushi Ganso is no Hatsuhana, and while I enjoyed every bite of fish, I can’t quite say the sushi was worth the price.

The otoro (pictured in the foreground of the first photo above) was particularly disappointing. It was fatty and delicious, sure—but nowhere near as delicious as I’ve come to expect a $10 piece of sushi to be. Plus, the coloring was a little off-putting; it almost looked as if it’d been cooked. The uni was all right, though bland and too cold, and the ikura reminded me of Mr. Clean. The squid was good, though—not too tough, as squid often is—and I enjoyed the salmon, but it wasn’t anything special.

I will say, though, that the rolls are pretty good, especially if ordered as a supplement to a Ganso Yaki meal. I’m partial to both salmon and negi-toro, but you can’t really go wrong with Sushi Ganso’s rolls. (It’s not as if they have Philadelphia rolls or anything.) The only way to go wrong, really, is to try to fill up on their sushi alone. It’ll cost you a hell of a lot, and the food, while decent, won’t be worth what you’ll pay. By all means, though: Dine next-door, and sample widely—from both restaurant’s menus.

Find Sushi Ganso at 31 3rd Avenue, between Atlantic Avenue and State Street. (Keep an eye out, too—a write-up on Ganso Ramen is coming soonish.)

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Kikoo Sushi: For when you’re feeling gluttonous

Shrimp tempura from Kikoo Sushi

I found out about Kikoo on Groupon, of all places. Whenever I’d search for sushi, Kikoo would be there, right at the top: “Up To 53% off All-You-Can-Eat Sushi, Sashimi, and Teriyaki with Drinks.” Honestly, all-you-can-eat sushi sounds like a terrible idea, so I was never really all that tempted to click the link. I guess it got to me, though, because—well, I just got back from my first Kikoo feast.

Before I bought the Groupon, I called Kikoo to ask about allergens, and after some initial confusion, the woman on the phone informed me that they are no tree nuts in anything on their menu, but that one roll—an avocado roll—comes topped with peanuts. I double-checked with the hostess when I arrived, too, and she confirmed what I was told on the phone, so I figured I was good to go.

When we sat down—I’d brought Sam along, as I wasn’t about to try to take on any sort of all-you-can-eat deal on my own—we were given an iPad with which to order. No need to flag down a server at Kikoo; you just throw what you want into a (digital) shopping cart of sorts and then hit the order button. You’re limited to 10 items at a time, but you can order as often as you’d like—and the food just keeps coming. And coming. And coming.

Now, let me make this clear: I think all-you-can-eat dining is inherently revolting. It’s gluttonous, greedy, and quintessentially American in that way that never fails to evoke a whole lot of shame—but it’s also kind of fun to be able to order whatever (and however much) you want without having to worry about over-spending. It’s nice to be able to sample widely, too, which was what I tried to do at Kikoo.

Three hand rolls from Kikoo Sushi

Unfortunately, nothing was all that great—but I didn’t really expect it to be, given that I was paying by the two-hour block. The rolls (both hand rolls—pictured above—and cut rolls) were probably the best thing I tried. Unlike the sushi and sashimi, the fish in the rolls wasn’t ice-cold—which did a lot for their cause—and unlike the fried dishes, they (obviously) weren’t super greasy, which was refreshing, at least. A few of the rolls, though, were filled with this sickeningly sweet rice; those were probably the worst thing I ate.

The salmon cut roll and the salmon hand roll were both decent, and the salmon-avocado hand roll was actually pretty good. I liked the shrimp tempura (pictured at the top of this post), too—but I’m pretty sure that’s at least partially due to the fact that I’ll probably enjoy any fried shrimp dish that’s put in front of me. The sweet potato tempura was a little worse (but still all right), and the soft-shell crab was awful. I wouldn’t have been surprised if our server had returned to tell us our crab was actually chicken, and that we’d received it because of a kitchen mix-up. But no, it was crab—and yes, it was bad.

An assortment of sushi and sashimi from Kikoo Sushi

As I mentioned, the sushi and sashimi (pictured immediately above) were both pretty much freezing—and the flavors weren’t all that, either. On top of that, the selection was pretty small: salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and snapper, when I was there. I guess it makes sense, though. Can’t really serve expensive fish in an all-you-can-eat setting. (But I can dream, can’t I?) Still, there was one problem I couldn’t quite get over: the all-around lack of flavor in all of the fish—and the soy sauce, too. Heartbreaking…and infuriating, when it came to the soy.

But for the most part, what Kikoo lacked in quality, it made up for in quantity, so I did end up leaving satisfied. Not so satisfied that I’m itching to go back, mind you—but pleasantly full nonetheless. (Who am I kidding? I’ll most likely be back within the next few months. You know, once I’ve forgotten just how cold the fish was. It was a safe meal, after all.)

If you, too, are in the mood to stuff your face with low-to-average-quality sushi, you can find Kikoo at 141 1st Avenue, between 8th and 9th. (And if you’re interested, there’s a Groupon available that’ll save you a decent amount of money.)

[Three or four months after I started eating at Kikoo—and believe me, I started—they added (cooked) salmon belly to the menu, and it’s awesome. I took down, like, four orders the other night. (I’m disgusting.) Anyway, I think I’ve figured out how best to approach Kikoo…for me, at least: some sashimi (salmon), a roll or two (…salmon), and a few—only a few—cooked dishes (tempura, katsu, salmon belly, whatever). I don’t know why their salmon sucks so much less than their other fish, but it does. And too many fried dishes make for a bad night indeed.]

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Uma Temakeria and the Sushi Burrito

A sushi burrito from Uma Temakeria

Edit: Closed. Sorry.

Imagine a Chipotle, Just Salad, or Subway (ick) type of place—and then forget all about those, because Uma Temakeria is so much better. It’s another trendy fast-casual restaurant, sure. But instead of burritos, salads, or sandwiches, Uma Temakeria specializes in Japanese hand rolls, made however the hell you want.

Apparently, they brought NYC its very first sushi burrito. They also have chirashi (bowls) and temaki (hand rolls), but I, forever drawn to gimmick and novelty, had to go straight to the burrito. (Seriously. Gimmicky foods, and in particular, food mashups, are my weakness. Ramen burgersLuther burgers, cronuts, cragels—if it sounds like a terrible idea, odds are it makes me drool.)

I’ve been reading about (and downright lusting after) the sushi burrito for at least a year now, but it wasn’t until this week that I even thought to look into where it’s sold and whether I might be able to eat it. All my Google searches led me to Uma Temakeria, which looked promising—their menu was straightforward and their ingredients were simple, at least—so I decided to give them a call.

Sure enough, there are no nuts on their menu or in their kitchen. Still, I’ve categorized Uma Temakeria as “technically not nut-free,” as I don’t have any reason to believe they collect allergen statements from their vendors, nor do they make any guarantees about cross-contamination. I do think, though, that this place is about as low-risk as they come.

Now, I’ve literally been fantasizing about a Chipotle-style Japanese place since Chipotle first got me hooked on customizable fast-casual, so imagine my delight when Uma Temakeria turned out to be just that. For my first sushi burrito, I went simple: white rice, salmon, tuna, ponzu sauce, avocado, tobiko, sesame seeds, and scallions.

Now, the fish wasn’t the world’s best—the tuna was bland, and the salmon wasn’t all that much better—but it certainly wasn’t bad, and everything else in my burrito was fresh and flavorful. Gimmicks aside, that thing was pretty good. Good enough, at least, to offset all the “I’m a huge tool” feelings that came up in the eating process.

I do have two complaints, though. First: For $14 ($11 for the burrito, plus an additional $3 for avocado and tobiko), it wasn’t a lot of food; I ended up feeling the need to supplement my meal with a bagel from The Donut Pub, which is right around the corner. Second: The burrito itself was extremely unruly. I don’t think it’s even possible to get through one of those things without a third of its contents spilling onto your tray. Not ideal.

But those minor complaints aside, I do recommend Uma Temakeria. The employees are friendly, there’s a huge variety of fillings to mix and match, and it’s all decently healthy, too. Plus, the seafood’s all sustainably-sourced. I truly can’t wait to go back.

Find this strange creation—and its two far-less-strange companions—at 64 7th Avenue (right off 14th street) or at Gotham West Market (600 11th Avenue, between 44th and 45th).

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M2M: An affordable Asian market

Salmon

I’ve said before that I’d eat sushi every day if I could afford to do so—but I can’t, nor will I ever be that rich. A more reasonable person might accept this financial limitation and, you know, chill the fuck out, but not me. I spend way too much of my time trying to make sushi affordable—and mostly in vain, at that. Decent restaurants are expensive (and the cheaper ones tend to be less allergy-friendly, anyway), and grocery store sushi is generally inedible…that is, with the exception of M2M’s.

Now: M2M’s sushi is nothing crazy. Everything’s packaged and allowed to sit for hours in a cooler at the back of their stores, after all. But as grocery store sushi goes, it just might be the best I’ve tried—and among the cheapest, too, at between $4 and $10 per box. The fish is usually decent, though everything’s usually way too cold, and the rice (in particular) doesn’t always taste so fresh—but hey, it’s the best of the bad, as far as I’m concerned.

I like to get the salmon combo, which comes with both rolls and nigiri, and which is pretty decent if you manage to catch it at the right time of day (though just when that golden hour starts is anyone’s guess. I certainly have no idea, and I’m starting to think there’s no rhyme or reason to freshness at M2M). I also used to love the shrimp tempura rolls, but for the past year or so, they’ve been—for lack of a better term—really, really, really bad. They’re horrifyingly cold and stale, and the folks at M2M seem to have forgotten how to make the version that didn’t come topped with spicy mayo. Oh well.

Ingredients are, of course, listed on the packaging, though I’m not sure whether M2M would label potential cross-contaminants. Truthfully, I took a risk the first time I ate their sushi—but I eat M2M multiple times per week (as one of their locations is basically on NYU’s campus), and I’ve never had any issues whatsoever. (I should say, though, that I only eat their sushi. They have hot food, too, but in the interest of safety, I tend to steer clear of anything cooked.)

I know—this isn’t the world’s most informative post. But I eat there so often I figured I’d throw the recommendation out there. As always, you should use your own discretion—and if the lack of readily-available information on M2M’s treatment of allergens makes you uncomfortable, you can (and should) speak to an employee—or, of course, take your business elsewhere.

M2M has three locations, though I can only vouch for the sushi at the one in Greenwich Village (19 Waverly Place). Still, the one on 11th and 3rd (55 3rd Avenue) is much larger—and much more pleasant, if you ask me. The third is in Morningside Heights (2935 Broadway), but I’ve never been.

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Hatsuhana

The sushi bar at Hatsuhana

I have a thing for sushi. A pretty big thing. Probably big enough to qualify as an obsession. And if I had unlimited money, I’d probably eat at Hatsuhana every single night for at least six months straight.

Among the things I love about sushi (and trust me, there are many) is the fact that I’m usually not allergic to it. I don’t tend to order much in the way of cooked food, but raw fish has proven pretty safe—for the last 10 years or so, at least.

Usually, in looking for a good place to get some sushi, I’ll read through a bunch of menus and try to find a place that doesn’t have any nuts on the menu. No easy feat. Hatsuhana’s menu does have nuts on it, but only, as far as I know, in one of the desserts. This doesn’t worry me too much, since I don’t order much from the kitchen anyway—and like I said, I haven’t had any trouble with their raw fish in the years I’ve been eating there.

Now, I eat a lot of inconsistent, low-quality sushi. By now, I’m used to it, as I’ve accepted that it’ll (sort of) do the trick in a dire situation. Whole Foods, M2M, random restaurants that insist cream cheese is a legitimate addition to a roll, various (terrifying) all-you-can-eat joints…you name it, I choke their food down on a semi-regular basis. But Hatsuhana is different. Hatsuhana is sacred. Hatsuhana is my consistent, reliable, high-quality treat.

Their sushi is great. Truly, it is. So great, in fact, that there’s hardly anything else I can say. Every single thing I’ve ever eaten at Hatsuhana has been downright delicious—most to the point of provoking an audible “wow,” even. The fish is always fresh and it’s never the slightest bit cold (that sounds like a Wendy’s ad; I’m sorry), and the only near-complaint I’ve ever had is “huh, this is great, but I preferred the way they prepared it last time.” (Seriously. It’s never bad—it only ranges from “very good” to “overwhelmingly delicious.”)

Honestly, I dream about huge plates of Hatsuhana sushi, and on those occasions that I’m fortunate enough to get some, I spend the whole day looking forward to what’s become my favorite meal. What’s more, the service is wonderful. Every time my boyfriend and I walk in, we’re greeted with genuine warmth—and it isn’t just because we’re regulars. Honestly, Hatsuhana is just staffed with lovely people. The only problem is that it’s pricey—but I find it’s worth the money, if only once in a while.

You can read about Hatsuhana’s mission and see photos of the restaurant itself here. (I used one of their photos at the top of this post. For some reason, I never want to whip out a camera at such a quiet restaurant, two feet from another of table of people trying to enjoy their meal.)

I suppose I can’t rave like I just have without any sort of visual aid, though, so…here are some shitty iPhone photos of wonderful things Sam and I have shared at Hatsuhana:

They’re open Monday through Saturday for lunch, dinner, and carry-out, and they’re located at 17 East 48th Street, between 5th and Madison. (Of course, since Hatsuhana is not a nut-free establishment, you should use your own discretion, speak with your server, and only eat there if you’re comfortable. For what it’s worth, though, I do feel safe there—and I highly recommend giving them a try.)

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