Sushi & Brooklyn
Every New Yorker has a favorite sushi restaurant; Masa, Yasuda, Sushi of
Gari, Nobu, Tomoe or, like me, the local gem “Ki” in Brooklyn. I’ve been to most of the famous ones; Masa is the shrine of sushi both quiet and grand, Yasuda is fabulous but they rush you out the door precisely after 1 ½ hours, Gari was great but Gari no longer works as a sushi chef, instead spending his time opening new locations, and Nobu, of course, is a dependable staple.
After seeing the fabulous film, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” I was obsessed…I had to find a place in New York that could replicate the sushi served in the movie. I have eaten at many fine sushi restaurants in New York and Japan so my standard was quite high. I searched and searched and finally found it! With Zagat ratings of 12 for décor and 29 for food (29! no one gets a 29!), I had no idea what to expect at Sasabune, particularly in light of the shockingly low rating for decor.
The place is simple, much like the setting in Jiro’s sushi bar in the Tokyo train station. Chef Kenji Takahashi’s motto, “No Spicy Tuna, No California Roll. Trust Me,” gives the diner an immediate clue that he actually has a sense of humor. But he takes his fish seriously. Really seriously! And the décor simply doesn’t matter after your first bite of the freshest fish on this planet.
Mandatory omakase (which changes every day) leaves all the decisions to the chef, although, to his credit the chef does begin by asking if there is anything the diner does not eat. Chef Takahashi buys his own fish and creates all his own sushi, makes his own rice twice daily, his own soy sauce and his own version of delicate and creamy wasabe. He also creates an assortment of very subtle sauces, which include a lime wasabi, teriyaki, ponzu and yuzu to complement, not disguise the fresh fish.
The tasting began with buttery albacore sashimi with a light ponzu sauce. It was followed with Uni (Sea Urchin) from Santa Barbara, which melted in my mouth. The abalone, also from Santa Barbara, was sliced very thinly and served elegantly in its shell. The flavor was divine. Both the Japanese and Portuguese mackerel were the freshest I have ever tasted. We tried Red Snapper and Black Snapper, Fluke & Fluke fin, Blue Fin Tuna, by far, the finest I have ever sampled, local Striped Bass, and cooked Black Cod served as sushi. The meal was perfect…the only place to eat after watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
Sasabune ranks with the greatest sushi bars in the world. Every morsel transcends all expectations.
On a quick note, I am having trouble keeping up with all the new restaurants in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I just tried a new little jewel of a place called Ciro’s on Smith with reasonable prices, excellent food (I had pea shoot ravioli) and super friendly service by Emily! Definitely worth a trip across the bridge!