Sunday, January 27, 2013

NATSUMI is your natural choice for sushi in NY's Times Square (1-26-13)

For years, I returned over and over to NATSUMI (226 West 50th-off Bway and always enjoyed the food, service and ambiance.
Last night, I arrived pre-opera at 5:30pm and despite the below 20degree chill in NYC, the place was jammed. I guess it has caught on, although all the folks sitting with me at the sushi bar all seemed to be from out of town!
You don't get much conversation from the three sushi chefs at the bar as they are all Japanese and converse amongst themselves in their native tongue. Every now and then you can ask a question and get a one word or maybe two word answer, which is often difficult to decipher, especially when asking what's in that!
Many sushi places (especially in Florida) have Latino sushi chefs these days leading to a huge Latino-Japanese fusion cuisine that is wondrous. Here, NATSUMI has taken a twist that really works well: Italo-Japanese fusion.

It is Restaurant Weeks in NYC (thru Feb 8) and many spots are offfering up 3-course menus for $38, and while most restaurants do not do not offer this option on Saturday nights (but their "week" is two weeks long!), Natsumi was happy to say they were doing it despite the Saturday.

I started with a SPICY MARGARITA made with Japaleno-infused "Riazul" and orange liqueur. It was spicy, but a bit on the small side.

I immediately was drawn to the starter of GREEN TEA GNOCCHI made with spinach in a dark, yet creamy mushroom-green tea sauce with capers and asparagus. It was rich and heavy and quite a huge portion, so I was happy that I had chosen the CHEF OMAKASE Platter for my main course.
The first platter passed across the sushi bar from one of the chefs to me was a small one of four slices of SALMON CARPACCIO in a Citrus/Lemon Dressing with Capers. The fish was some of the best ever and the chef told me it came from Scotland. Simple with respect for the fish, yet a pithy sauce that you could take just a dribble of, or a big dip if you wanted more lemon.

Next came the Malaise featuring a Six piece roll of WHITE TUNA SUSHI with Cucumber and Peperonicini. Here is where the Italian fusion melds (well, it did of course with the gnocchi as well) perfectly making a wonderful new flavor in the top notch sushi. The plate was filled out with five pieces of SASHIMI:
Salmon Toro (even better than the amazing appetizer)
Yellowtail Toro
Big Eye Tuna Toro
and White Tuna
All were as tender as I have had in any great sushi place, here the tuna and salmon both melted in my mouth and were truly epicurean pleasures.

A glass of Pear Sake was offered which was nice, but a bit sweet for me. I prefer the traditional Junmai Gingo.

Dessert was Natsumi's signature TEMPURA CHEESECAKE which comes with raspberry coulis and fresh mango cubes. I could eat only part of it as it is so rich and while I adore it, a half portion is my maximum.

Natsumi is really a great place for everyone as there is something for everyone from pasta to steaks to fish!