My first meal at Blue Ribbon Sushi was an eye opening experience for me. First, it made me realize that for 25 years I had been eating bad sushi. Second, along with the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it helped me understand that bad sushi is practically an entirely different food group than fresh, artfully-prepared sushi. Sushi prepared by a skilled chef is a beautiful, delicious thing. It takes more than slicing a raw fish – sushi-making is a craft that that must be continuously perfected. Realizing this, along with getting sick from an inedible tray of take-out sashimi last month, I recently pledged to never eat bad sushi again.
Thus began my quest to try the city’s greatest Sushi restaurants, and there are many. I’d be content eating at Blue Ribbon every night, but interesting blog that does not make! So, in an effort to be grease-free before Thanksgiving and diversify my posts, this past Wednesday I tried Gari on Columbus, one of the five restaurants of the Sushi of Gari family. It’s everything people hype it up to be, and unlike some of its competitors, it takes reservations. The restaurant is brightly lit and no more interestingly-decorated than the next sushi joint, but you can really feel the sushi love and Japanese tradition emanating from each waiter.
The menu is standard aside from Gari’s signature dish: the Omakase, which is the chef’s innovative preparations of sushi, and what Zagat calls “a religious experience.” If I were P Diddy, I would have ordered the $100+ option, but given that I’m a struggling non-rapper I went for the Omakase appetizer: four pieces of tuna, four pieces of salmon, and an impeccably crispy salmon skin roll (my favorite). I wish I could list off the different variations of each of the uniquely prepared pieces, but I was too enamored by the plate’s beauty to really absorb the waiter’s descriptions. I do recall a salmon with roasted tomato, a tuna with scallions, and a tuna with blended tofu. Trust me when I say it was awesome, and along with a great green salad and the perfect gingery dressing, a fresh and bursting salmon roe nigiri, a piece of hamachi, and a delicious fried oyster roll, I felt like I was in Jiro’s Tokyo subway shop. The sushi performance warranted celebratory dessert, so we picked the fried bean cake special served with green tea ice cream after learning the bad news that they were out of the Lady M Green Tea Mille Crepes cake. While the dessert didn’t compare to Blue Ribbon’s green tea ice cream with red bean sauce, it was definitely interesting and tasty.
So much for eating light the night before Thanksgiving! And here’s to always intending to eat healthy at a sushi restaurant, but more often than not leaving incredibly full. I just love it too much to care.
Location: Multiple; this was 370 Columbus Ave between 77th and 78th Streets