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Sushi Omakase: Sushi Zo vs. Asabeno?

Ate at Sushi Zo the other day... was quite disappointed by the over-saucing, which apparently is a fairly well-known issue (though I hadn't done my research beforehand).

The rice itself was I think a bit on the sweet side, but the real problem was the sauce on virtually every piece, which was thick and cloying and totally ruined it for me. A shame, because the fish seemed to be of good quality.

Have eaten at Jiro (Ginza location), Mizutani, Sawada, etc. in Tokyo (i.e., I know what this is supposed to taste like) -- this was far, far from that level.

Jul 02, 2013
dagordon in Los Angeles Area

Real, athentic omakase sushi experience wanted near Westport, CT

So we tried Sushi Nanase. It was very good! Though in terms of the sushi itself a bit disappointing.

The non-sushi dishes were excellent, if not terribly unique. The sushi itself, though, while tasty, was actually quite embellished, and too much so, we thought. It was actually the least traditional nigiri out of Kotobuki, Kira, and Nanase! The fish seemed like it was of high quality, but the garnishes were, we thought, overpowering. And we didn't love the rice.

it was quite expensive. Given the drive from Southport, and the price, it's going to be virtually impossible to justify going there vs. nyc.

The chef was very nice. Though there was a funny incident -- one of the courses was an excellent plate of several small bites, and one of them was a small sphere made out of botan ebi. Of course, I popped mine in my mouth in one bite. When my wife was about to do the same, the chef admonished her, saying that the sphere was actually composed out of six small pieces of shrimp which he had painstakingly assembled in the sphere, and that she was to separate the sphere into its component parts, and eat them separately. He then more or less started to give us instructions as to how to eat and enjoy Japanese food generally.

Needless to say, the food was unfortunately not on a high enough level to justify this sort of attitude. :)

Apr 19, 2010
dagordon in Southern New England

Real, athentic omakase sushi experience wanted near Westport, CT

Thanks for all the very helpful replies!

Since posting we've been to Kotobuki in Stamford and Kira in Greenwich. Both were not bad at all. The quality of the fish and the rice at Kira was a notch above Kotobuki's, though Kira did make the fatal mistake of serving us a roll involving cream cheese, despite the fact that we ordered omakase and specified "mostly nigii" (which I thought would suggest that any rolls should be in the more traditional vein). Being open-minded, we tried the maki in question, with not so great results -- my wife won't stop talking about the cream cheese incident of April 2010.

The thing is, the nigiri itself at Kira was pretty darn good for outside of a big city. The selection was pretty limited, though. It seemed like most of the chefs were occupied with take-out orders and colorful rolls involving cream cheese, and we couldn't communicate with the chefs directly (we had to go via the waitress), which was not ideal.

I'm intrigued by Nanase, perhaps that will be next.

Or Yasuda. :)

Apr 11, 2010
dagordon in Southern New England

Real, athentic omakase sushi experience wanted near Westport, CT

This is probably going to get some people upset, but whatever...

We recently moved to Southport, CT, and are in dire need of sushi in the area. Of course, when we want the good stuff we'll just head to NYC, but we'd like to have somewhere around here for when we don't have time to do that.

Here's the thing: we're unabashed sushi snobs. We've been to the top places in Tokyo and in the U.S. When we eat in NYC we go to Sushi Yasuda, and sit at the bar and have Yasuda serve us omakase style, or we go to 15 East and do the same thing there.

We're fully aware we're not going to get anything like this near us in CT. What we're looking for is the closest thing. (If the closest thing isn't very good we just won't have sushi around here, but we have to give it a try).

We don't want "asian fusion", three varieties of miso cod, fried maki with cream cheese doused in mayo, etc... we want somewhere where we can sit down at the sushi bar and have a couple of pieces served at a time of high-quality nigiri, preferably made w/ real wasabi, with attention paid to the quality of the rice, by someone with knife skills.

Has anyone had something like this within, say, a 30 minute drive from Westport?

Thanks

Apr 03, 2010
dagordon in Southern New England

Nightmare at Bouley

We just returned from what was undeniably our single worst service experience in recent memory, at Bouley.

To a certain extent this makes me feel fortunate. We eat out a lot, as I suspect most reading this board do; and now that I reflect on the service aspect of the meals we've had, I realize that it has been, generally, excellent. Perhaps we're just lucky -- or, as I suspect, perhaps service is simply improving all around -- but it's really quite rare that we've had serious complaints about the service at a restaurant. Sure, there will be the occasional service blips, but rarely is it that we have gotten the sense that our server, let alone the entire FOH, just doesn't give a shit.

We had a 9:00 reservation and were seated at 9:15. We were given a wine list but it took a while for menus to appear.

At one point the lamp at one end of our table (a 5 top) went out. This was pretty noticeable, but it took quite a while for us to get someone's attention to come over and fix it. Moreover, even with the lamp fixed, my end of the table was excessively dark. I have young eyes, and I can't remember ever complaining about a place being too dark, but this was just ridiculous. It took a while to get someone's attention, and then we asked for a candle for our end of the table. Several minutes passed, and we asked someone else for one, and one was eventually provided.

It took quite a while for our appetizers to come out. They were fairly unexceptional. I should say that the amuse, a gazpacho with green apple sorbet and slow-cooked shrimp, was excellent. But my father said that his bluefin tuna dish was mediocre; I had the "panache" of three salads, in which the shrimp and scallops were overcooked and underseasoned, the foie "Napoleon" too sweet, and the mushrooms lacking flavor. The steamed egg dish could, I think, have been quite successful, but it was overwhelmed by what I swore was coconut (though this wasn't in the dish description).

The real problem was that we waited for approximately an hour and fifteen minutes for the mains to come out. At no point during this wait did anyone come to our table to apologize, let alone offer, say, a glass of champagne, or a salad, or another appetizer (all of which we would have declined, but at least the offer would have demonstrated that they cared). We were visibly tired and hungry. At one point my fiancée was essentially asleep on the table. No one came.

After over an hour we managed to get someone's attention and asked about our food; we were told that it was being plated, and no apology or explanation. We waited probably ten minutes more and decided to leave. My father asked for the check. Nothing happened. After five minutes or so the mains finally arrived, and we sent them back, reiterating that we wanted to leave.

We then waited over 5 minutes for the check to actually arrive. (I was urging that we should simply leave -- how long could we reasonably be expected to wait?) Now, the one thing that the restaurant could have done at this point to salvage the possibility that we would come back in the future would have been to comp what we had had so far. Of course they didn't.

By now it was probably 11:15. On the way out we told someone whom I presume was the maitre d' that our experience had been pathetic. Delays happen, I told him -- what matters is how you handle the situation. At the very least simply go to the table and apologize for the wait. If it were my restaurant I would, as I said, offer the table a round of champagne, or a salad; something. Just something to suggest that you're aware of the issue, and that you care. This isn't rocket science, I explained; this is basic customer service.

The gentleman's response was hilarious: he said that we didn't give them the opportunity to make the wait up to us. Normally, he said, they would have comped dessert; but we left before the mains. This guy just didn't get it. If a table is waiting for an hour and fifteen minutes in between courses, you have to do something while they're waiting -- even if it's just telling the table that dessert will be on the house. Unbelievable.

My father left no tip, which I don't think he has ever done before; and ordinarily we would not want to punish all of the servers for the errors of one or two, but in this case the problems seemed so systemic.

There is no way that we will return to this restaurant in, say, the next 15 years.

Snootiness is one thing; you can emanate a certain snootiness and still provide the fundamentals of customer service, still show that you care. This was more like sheer and utter cluelessness and indifference, again of a level totally and completely beyond anything we have experienced anywhere in recent memory.

Apr 05, 2008
dagordon in Manhattan

Dim Sum Garden

We've been to Dim Sum Garden twice now and IMHO the xiao long bao (which are indeed made in-house) are at least as good as Joe's chinatown nyc and midtown nyc (never been to the Queens location). The shaou mei, on the specials board, are also delicious. Their scallion pancake is perhaps the best we've had anywhere. The staff is also exceedingly nice.

Feb 10, 2008
dagordon in Philadelphia

Ramen Noodles in Philly?

No.

Sep 26, 2007
dagordon in Philadelphia

Looking for Pho and Banh Mi

I've been to all of the Pho places mentioned here and others around Philly, and, imho, the best, by a rather large margin, is at Cafe Diem, 8th St just north of Washington. The Bun Bo Hue there is also outstanding. The place is small, and I can't remember ever seeing another non-Asian person there, which is, of course, a good sign.

For Banh Mi, of which I've also had quite a bit around here: Cafe Nhu Y, a couple of blocks north of Cafe Diem, at 802 Christian.

Dec 06, 2006
dagordon in Pennsylvania

Where to go for good Pho?

Cong Ly, 124 Hester.

Jul 01, 2006
dagordon in Manhattan

Sang Kee or Lee How Fook

Lee How is my choice. I don't think there's a comparison. The duck at Sang Kee is excellent, but everything else we've had there has been exceptionally mediocre. I'd also have to agree with joypirate about the soup broth. I've had a bunch of their noddle soups, and they're generally disappointing. I'm not sure if there's a better Chinese noodle soup I've had in Philly, but that doesn't make it any better.

Perhaps one explanation for why we've had uniformly excellent meals at Lee How is that we usually ask the waiter to order for us. All of the salt baked dishes are terrific, with shrimp probably being the favorite (must get with shells on and eat the whole things!). Sea bass with blank bean sauce is also really good. The roasted pork appetizer is the best version I've ever had. They also brought us a fantastic chicken dish once when we had them choose the food. It was boneless chicken filets fried to perfection, incredibly moist, and in an orangey sauce of some kind. Maybe orange chicken, if that's on the menu?

Jun 27, 2006
dagordon in Pennsylvania

best sandwich at reading terminal market

Salumeria Italian hoagie, with the house dressing and artichokes.

Jun 24, 2006
dagordon in Pennsylvania