Before we begin, I must confess I have a slight obsession with the fare I will be discussing today. I am drawn to the simplicity, the beauty, and the bold, yet refined flavors that exist within every morsel of this extraordinary gastronomic delight. The cuisine that I am referring to is none other than the versatile, yet humble Sushi.
For as long as I can remember I have been intrigued by all things Sushi and I am still entranced by it. As the world of food slowly delves deeper into the dark magic that is Gastronomy, Sushi remains steadfast in its straightforward approach of delivering savory, umami laden grenades of amazeballs. The skill and time it takes to become a true Sushi chef is tantamount to becoming a black belt in a martial art and I believe it is this dedication to deliciousness that has captivated my foodie soul.
Sushi is certainly not a new concept in the wonderful world that is the culinary arts. Hell, according to the Jewish Grandmother of the internet, Wikipedia, this particular form of food preparation started 2000 years ago. Furthermore, Sushi was one of the first “adventurous” epicurean eats to invade the foodie culture here in the states. Shit, it is now almost as mainstream as Chinese food, burgers, or pizza when it comes to takeout.
Taking this into consideration and the fact that if you are reading a food blog you are somewhat of a food connoisseur yourself, I am quite sure, like me, you have partaken in this form of appetizing, aesthetic food porn. More so, I am willing to wager that you believe that you have experienced the same level of sushi that is enjoyed by the citizens of its motherland. There is even a potential that you have reduced your feasting of this fabulous fish because you believe that you have, “been there, done that.”
I blame seemingly every Chinese takeout restaurant on the planet to adding to the decline of the reverence that proper Sushi deserves. Every time a rouge untrained “Sushi Chef” butchers low grade fish and wraps it in sub-par rice, another member of the next foodie generation loses respect for this time honored tradition. As Admiral Ackbar once said, “it’s a trap!!!”
After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix, my love for Sushi was rekindled and I felt the need to seek out an authentic Sushi meal. So, with a little help from my foodie friends Alex and Steph, and of course the internets I found the proper place to subdue the now burning desire in my belly, Sushi on Jones, located at 348 Bowery St. in New York City, NY.
I was immediately lured to Sushi on Jones because they only serve their sushi in the style of Omakase, a Japanese phrase that means, “I’ll leave it up to you.” In other words, the Chef selects the dishes you will eat during your meal. This style of eating is usually quite pricey and in the city it can run you hundreds of dollars per person, but much like Homey the Clown, Sushi on Jones don’t play that! In fact, when I saw the price on their website, $50, they had me hook, line, and sinker. #NeverPardonMyPuns
There are a few things to think about if you decide to let Sushi on Jones rock your foodie world. First off, this joint only has six seats so you will need a reservation. You can Text (917)-270-1815 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to score one. Secondly, you will be eating outside, yes outside, suck it up and dress accordingly. Finally you will be served 12 pieces of taste bud tantalizing; life changing Sushi that will make you rethink every piece of Sushi that you have ever put in your food hole.
I would imagine you want to know what the catch is, you cynical bastard. Well, the only catch is you have to eat all of it in 30 minutes. It sounds like you might feel rushed, but they have their service down to a science and you actually don’t get that sense at all. Just don’t be D-bags like the people that ate before us and linger like you are at a diner at 2 A.M.. Respect the process so everyone can enjoy the awe inspiring food that is being served at this fine establishment. Like their sign says, Less Talk…More Eat.
When we visited Sushi on Jones the menu was displayed prominently on the wall of the Sushi Bar. We were able to follow Jiro’s lead and dream about Sushi while we waited patiently for our place at the bar. There is not really a waiting area so we tried really hard not to hover as the guests that were seated before us were receiving their sushi one piece at a time. This was harder than you would think, I assure you.
The bar was reset shortly after the lingerers ceased their lollygagging and we were invited to take our seats. We were offered hot tea or iced green tea which was served post haste and our experience at Sushi On Jones began.
A traditional sushi board was placed in front of each us complete with a pair of fresh chopsticks. A pile of extra potent wasabi and pickled ginger adorned the board, as well as a small bowl for the soy sauce, we soon learned we would not need.
Our first course hit the board and the moment of truth was upon us. I am not sure what was higher, our hopes that this Sushi was going to be what we were craving or our expectations of this Sushi thanks to my fellow food bloggers. We carefully picked up what we assumed was Fatty Tuna with our chop sticks and slowly brought it towards our mouths simultaneously. If I was a 13 year old girl, or my 45 year old friend that texts like a 13 year old girl, I believe that I would insert the bomb emoji here to indicate that there was a literal explosion of flavor in my mouth. From that first bite we all knew we were in for a treat.
As the second course was set in front of us, we had yet to stop talking about the first. Next up was the Salmon, we presumed, and with now even higher expectations we scooped it up with our sticks and chowed down. **Spoiler Alert** This time it was not only the fish that brought us to flavor country, but the burst of heat that the wasabi, which was hiding underneath, brought the table. After this course, I completely stopped adding any additional sauce or wasabi to the pieces that were being presented as I realized that the Chefs might know a thing or two more than the Chefs I am used to.
The third course was a wee bit scary, but Sushi on Jones had not steered us wrong as of yet, so we put our faith in them. Scallops, in general are not my favorite and the idea of raw scallops was not something I was really looking forward to. My instincts were bad and I should feel bad! The scallop was buttery, soft, and not overly fishy at all and the salty sauce that was drizzled on top only added to the allure.
While my compatriots and I were arguing about which course so far was the best, our chefs were hard at work preparing the next offering. This is the attention to detail I alluded to earlier, each piece of this fish is hand seared with a blow torch before being served.
We were jib jabbering too much about the good and plentiful bounty we were eating that when our fourth course arrived we missed the Chef’s description. After a little bit of research, I believe it was the Hamachi. I may be wrong about the type of fish, but I am damn sure of one thing, it was freaking tasty. The small dollop of garnish that acted as a crown for the fish was somewhat sweet, yet vinegary and perfectly complemented the lightly seared flesh of the fish.
There was no denying what the fifth course was, and I was super excited to see it hit the board. Salmon Roe is what people would call an acquired taste, and I have acquired the hell out of it. Honestly, I believe that it is not the taste that is acquired but the texture, since each individual ball of amaze explodes in your mouth releasing a wonder of flavor and fishy goodness. Steph was not a huge fan of the zesty detonation that occurred during the chewing portion of this offering, as was apparent from the face she made while eating it. However, Alex and I were all in.
I believe our second piece of salmon graced our Sushi board next for our sixth course. To no surprise this piece was just as spectacular as the first.
Our seventh course sparked a conversation, which of course turned into a debate. This little pretty was presented to us as our second piece of tuna. The discussion that ensued was about what type of tuna we were looking at. You see as you dive deeper into the world of Sushi you soon find out that not all Tuna is equal and much like craft beer the hierarchy is based primarily on personal preference. In my humble opinion, they are all fantastic but this, which I believe is known as Blue Fin Tuna, is my favorite. It possesses the tenderness of the fatty tuna but a beauty unlike any other Tuna in the world. It is the Mila Kunis of Tuna.
Our eighth course was the often misunderstood and damn near always misrepresented Wagyu, meaning Japanese Cow. I was very excited to see that Sushi on Jones did not attempt to bamboozle their guests by calling their beef Kobe. In New York City this scam is constantly run on customers at high-end restaurants and often goes unnoticed. Kobe Beef is Wagyu that comes from a very specific region in Japan and is insanely rare in the states. Think about it like the square/rectangle comparison, as in, all Kobe is Wagyu but not all Wagyu is Kobe. Sorry for the diatribe but I feel like that is an important lesson for a foodie, like yourself, to know. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
To quote the late great Harry Caray, HOLY COW! This Wagyu was skillfully seared and elegantly seasoned which delivered a punch of precision. It was not only juicy but the consistency of the meat was udder perfection. No, I did not spell that wrong. It is a thinker. I will wait. Give it a second. Wait for it. There it is. I knew you could do it.
As the ninth course was distributed to the three of us, we realized that our experience was almost up. However, even though this thought left us somewhat somber, the gigantic shrimp sitting in front of us raised our spirits. I am not going to lie, I was nervous about this one too, because I have not liked raw shrimp in the past. However, I should have known this late in the game that the Chefs at Sushi on Jones know what the hell they are doing and this piece made me realize I just had eaten the wrong raw shrimp!
Our tenth course was the Sushi version of The Durian Fruit. The ever potent and often avoided Uni, or Sea Urchin. Uni gets a bad rap in the Sushi game because most Chefs are not skilled enough to prepare it and when done wrong it is bad, and not like the 1980’s bad that meant good, like the 2010’s bad that once again means awful. The other problem is eating Uni is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Meaning the first bite is almost painfully powerful, but then each subsequent bite gets better and better. Sushi on Jones once again nailed the execution of this difficult dish and I was smiling all the way to the finish line.
If I was not already a fanboy of the Chef’s dealing out Sushi through the small window in front of our seats, our eleventh course, made me want to ask them for their autographs. These mad sushi scientist decided to adorn our second piece of Wagyu with a hat made out of Uni. This decadent little slab of amazing was one of the best pieces that was served to us during our meal at Sushi on Jones. The juxtaposition of flavors and textures between the Cow and the Urchin were magical. So much so, I am convinced that this is what Unicorn must have tasted like, which is probably why they are extinct. Shut up! I said extinct! They are not mythical, they were real and their flesh tasted of Uni and Wagyu!
As our twelfth and final course of this outrageous omakase odyssey was placed before us I was not only surprisingly satiated but extremely pleased with what had just arrived. Eel and I have been friends for quite some time and I was very excited to try out the Sushi on Jones version. Lo and behold, I was not disappointed! Their eel sauce had all the components I look for when I order Eel, sweet, smoky, and slightly sticky and the meat itself was divine. It was the perfect way to finish our meal… Or so we thought.
Sushi on Jones has one or two off menu specials per day that looked too good in the market for the Chefs to pass up. Today they had Oysters and Alex, Steph, and I also just could not resist. We made the right choice as the sauce that these meaty mighty molluscs were bathed in was unlike any Oyster sauce I have ever tasted. Correction! This was the perfect way to end this opulent meal.
If you have not guessed from the verbose praise above, I completely fell in love with Sushi on Jones! This eatery combines a unique eating style, a laser focus on the remarkable food they serve, and an approachable price point. Much like the Golden State Warriors in 2017 that triple threat is unbeatable!