Sushi on Jones Makes The Blue Collar Foodie Dream of Sushi!

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 sushionjones@gmail.com 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.

Heed their warning!

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.

The only menu you need!

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.

Let the games begin!

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.

Our bare boards awaiting the first piece of yummy.

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.

This tuna was not only Fat is was straight up PHAT!

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.

This was not your Father’s Salmon!

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.

And the most improved fish award goes 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.

Come on Sushi, Light my Fire!

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 think this is Hamachi. Maybe. Perhaps. We don’t really know.

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.

Roe, Roe, Roe, Your Sushi gently down the stream. Merrily, Merrily, Merrily life is but a dream.

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.

Salmon On Sticks On Jones

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.

This ain’t no canned Tuna!

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.

This beef may not have played for the Lakers, but it can be on my team any day!

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.

Skrimps! I love Skrimps!!!

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!

As my grandmother used to say… Try it… You’ll like it!

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.

Surf and Turf Sushi!

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!

This place is electric, boogie woogie, woogie!

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.

Kanpai! (Cheers) (L’Chaim)

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!

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Yo! Sushi Schools The Blue Collar Foodie

As I get older there are more and more things that I miss from my youth.  Besides the fact that a hangover that used to last 2 hours, now lasts two days, and in the morning, my bones and my cereal sound like they are having a conversation as they both snap, crackle, and pop.  One such component of my youth that I never thought I would miss is oddly enough school.

I am now almost certain that time travel will not be invented during my life time, because as I just wrote that sentence, a 6 year old with a scraggly bowl cut and a 15 year old rocking JNCOs and a chain wallet didn’t just appear in a DeLorean and take turns kicking my shins.

It is not actually school that I miss, but the learning that accompanied it, because let’s be honest only like 42 people in the history of mankind actually liked high school when they were there.  This perpetual thirst for knowledge is very similar to my thirst for beer on a Thursday night, as in, it is very hard to quell.  Shut up, maybe you have a problem!

Since I still haven’t truly decided what I want to be when I “grow up”, I have yet to choose a Master’s program that I can truly torture my brain with, and so I seek education in unconventional places.  Not to mention, my current chosen path to knowledge is a hell of a lot cheaper than going to grad school.

This time around, my never ending quest for knowledge steered me in the direction of another thing I miss from my youth, The Mall!  That is right, I grew up in Northern New Jersey in the 1990’s, which means that I was a Mall Rat.  Not just any Mall Rat mind you, but a Garden State Plaza Mall Rat; GSP Represent!  Back in my day, the mall you called your home was important and any other rat from any other mall wasn’t even welcome in your hack circle.

01yosushi

Sorry, I veered off course there for a minute.  Anyway, back to my journey.  The interwebs informed me that at my former stomping ground, an eatery that I have written about once before, Yo! Sushi, was now offering a two-hour comprehensive Sushi School.  I was interested, I was intrigued, I was… concerned about the cost.  I subdued my excitement, while I clicked some links and skimmed some sites, all the while worrying that this class might be out of my price range.  Then I saw it.

Our work station for the night.

Our work station for the night.

How much is Yo! Sushi charging for this class you ask?  $30 for a single student and $49 for a pair of pupils.  This is not my first time dabbling in the dark arts of back alley cooking classes, so I know what some of them cost.  I once took a wine class in the city and even with a Groupon it cost me $45 bucks a person, and I left more sober than a 15 year old trying to buy booze with a fake ID that was made with MS Paint and an Ink Jet printer.  The how and why Yo! Sushi is pulling off this price point matters not, I only know they are, and I was in!

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

Here is how this class works.  Each Sushi master in training is provided their own rolling mat, gloves, recipe cards and ingredients, and a YO! Sushi head chef will walk you through the process of creating all different types of Sushi.  The syllabus includes, making sushi rice; cutting fresh fish; and mastering the best techniques for rolling maki, mini iso and hand rolls.  As the late great Billy Mays used to say, “But wait there is more!” once all dishes are completed, students will leave with their rolls, along with a recipe book, a certificate, and a special discount voucher for their next visit.  Not to mention if you are as my wife lovingly puts it, a competitive jerk, after you learn your new skills you can put them to the test against the rest of the class by participating in the Yo! Sushi Rolling Challenge.  The winner gets a $10 gift card, a spot on the in-store leader board, a shout-out on the Yo! Sushi Instagram page, and best all BRAGGIN’ RIGHTS!

Go Fish!

Go Fish!

Sounds great, right?!  I am not going to lie, I was skeptical too.  Even more so when our Sushi Chef came out to the table and introduced himself to us.  His name was Stuart, and he was definitely not from Japan.  He was actually from Scotland as we learned once he began to speak to us.  However, after about three minutes into the class we realized it was not the nationality of the chef that mattered, but the passion that he brings to the cutting board.

Say hello to Stuart internets!

Stuart; Internets   …   Internets; Stuart

Stuart not only knew his stuff, but to use an often uttered 90’s colloquialism, he had the mad phat skills to pay the bills.  As he waxed poetic about the history of not only Yo! Sushi but Sushi in general, he demonstrated an array of knife skills that would make a samurai weep.  He went on to explain how to choose the fish you use, how to prepare it, and he also shared the secrets to the most important element of any great Sushi, the mystical rice.  Within the first 15 minutes of the course, Stuart’s extensive knowledge, skills, charisma, and overall teaching method had quelled my hesitation about the class, and I was excited to get my hands dirty.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” -Albert Einstein

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” -Albert Einstein

As if Stuart read my mind, he began doling out the ingredients for our first roll. Stuart guided the class through each and every step of the process, making sure that our Sushi somewhat resembled the masterpieces that he was creating.  This was no easy task, because my hands were meant for catching footballs and carrying heavy things, not for Sushi making, but somehow he made it work.

Hands off my Sushi! Get it... Cause it is a Hand Roll... Come on, everyone appreciates a Dad Joke!

Hands off my Sushi! Get it… Cause it is a Hand Roll… Come on, everyone appreciates a good Dad Joke!

Each and every type of Sushi that we created not only came with instructions but also a brief history lesson or anecdote that made the class that much more enjoyable.  Throughout the class, you could tell Stuart was not using a script from a corporate Power Point, he was simply talking to us, while he was teaching us.  He even added some war stories from the Kitchen which are always fun to hear.

Rollin' with my Homies!

Rollin’ with my Homies!

As we were jumping from Sushi type to Sushi type, Stuart stressed that this class was not simply about learning how to make the Sushi that we were preparing today but gaining a skill set that will allows us to use our imagination in the kitchen.  After the completion of this course, you could follow the recipes on the cards that Yo! Sushi provides, or you can use any ingredients you can think of to make whatever concoction your heart desires.  Once you “perfect” the art of slicin’, dicin’, and rollin’, the world of Sushi is yours to explore.

Much to learn you still have…my old padawan. … This is just the beginning! – Yoda

Much to learn you still have…my old padawan. … This is just the beginning! – Yoda

As we made our last roll, Stuart collected all of our creations and began to cut them.    As he went through the cutting procedure for each style he described the theory behind each cut.  I am not going to lie, while he was doing this, I got a serious case of knife envy.  I don’t have crappy knives mind you, but compared to the hardware Stuart was wielding, I might as well be brandishing a shiv that I fashioned out of a toothbrush.

Now that is a doggie bag!

As promised, our extremely fresh and somewhat amateurishly made Sushi was cut, boxed, and ready to go at the end of the class, thanks to Yo! Sushi and Head Chef Stuart Foster.  As we prepared to leave, we discussed the implantation of this new found culinary skill.  Imagine instead of pigs in a blanket and pizza bagels decorating your dining room table at your next gathering, an assortment of freshly made Sushi.  The best part is, you don’t have to be a master Sushi Chef to pull this off, the effort alone is going to get you plastered on every Instagram, Facebook, and Snap Chat in the house.

That is some fine ass fish!

That is some fine ass fish!

When all was said and done, Kat and I left Yo! Sushi with head full of knowledge and a bag full of Sushi, ready to put our newly acquired skills to good use.  If you are a foodie who enjoys putzing around the kitchen, this is a great way to bolster your culinary aptitude, while not spending a gill and a fin.  Furthermore, if you have someone special in your life who shares your passion for all things palatable, you would be hard pressed to find a better date night that would offer more bang for your buck.

The Essential Epicurean Guide To Restaurant Week in NYC: Summer 2016 Edition

This is not a drill people, Restaurant Week is once again upon us! Despite what the haters and hipsters have to say, I, for one, am super excited to head over to the greatest city in the world and chow down on some epic eats! This year’s Restaurant “Week” runs from July 25, 2016 to August 19, 2016 (I know that is more than a week, DEAL WITH IT!) and will run you $29.00 for lunch and $42.00 for dinner. Here is a link to all the participating restaurants; NYCGO.

Restaurant-week-2016-summer

However, if picking a restaurant seems more daunting than hitting a Noah Syndergaard fastball, then keep reading. To make your life easier, I have compiled my essential epicurean guide to this event once again. This time, I embarked on a mission to steer clear of the ordinary haunts and attempted to find the spots that are slightly off the beaten path, gastronomically speaking.

These restaurants might scare people off on a regular Monday, due to their rather adventurous cuisine and, let’s be honest, New York City price tags. However, thanks to the beauty of Restaurant Week, we can give these eclectic establishments a whirl without the worry of buyer’s remorse. So, without further ado, let’s take a Gastronomic walkabout around the globe, simply by driving across a river. (The following list is in no particular order, so make sure to scroll to the end)

The Cecil

Cuisine: African

Restaurant: The Cecil

Address: 210 West 118th Street at St. Nicholas Avenue New York, NY 10026

Why You Should Go: The Cecil has basically created a culinary style that is unique to their establishment deemed Afro-Asian-American. Pair that awesome sauce with their chic décor and hip ambience and you have a recipe for a memorable night out.        

What You Should Order: Collar Green Salad, Fried Chicken Fried Rice, and Triple Chocolate Cake

TenderSteak

Cuisine: American New, Japanese Sushi

Restaurant: Tender Steak + Sushi

Address: 130 West 47th Street, NY 10036  

Why You Should Go: This unique and modern eatery flawlessly combines a traditional American Steakhouse with an authentic high end Sushi joint. Tender made my list because of its culinary range, offering everything from burgers to sushi. This restaurant is great for the group that just can’t decide on one type of cuisine.

What You Should Order: Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Tender Wagyu Burger, and Crème Brulee

Distilled NYC

Cuisine: American New

Restaurant: Distilled New York

Address: 211 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

Why You Should Go: Distilled New York is a throwback to a near forgotten era where public houses, pubs, and bars were not just full of D-Bags looking to get drunk and laid. Back in the day, these establishments were home to impromptu town hall meetings and actual political discussions, based on informed opinions as opposed to what party you are affiliated with. Distilled is trying to harness that vibe and reinvent the old school Public House. Not to mention they have a standup beer menu and their food is pretty epic.

What You Should Order: Distilled Wings, Country Fried Duck and Waffle, Night Cap

Chefs Club

Cuisine: American New

Restaurant: Chef’s Club

Address: 275 Mulberry St. Manhattan, NY 10012

Why You Should Go: Brought to you by Food & Wine, this swanky restaurant boasts a collaborative menu from a rotating list of some of the world’s most renowned young Chefs. The Chef’s Club also offers eaters the unique experience of watching the drama of the kitchen unfold before their eyes thanks to their open kitchen, which is located in the center of the eatery.

What You Should Order: Calamari & Giardiniera Salad, Spicy Beef Ribs, and Chocolate Pretzel Whoopie Pie

Blenheim

Cuisine: American New

Restaurant: Blenheim

Address: 283 W. 12th St. New York, NY 10014

Why You Should Go: First and foremost this sexy eatery has just earned itself a Michelin Star, which should be reason enough to visit. However, that is only the tip of the romaine. Blenheim is redefining the term Farm to Table, by literally growing the food that appears on their impressive menu on their own farm, located in the Catskills. Plus, they are serving this amazingly fresh fare in a beautifully inviting atmosphere. Reservations are hard to come by, but try to score one of the outdoor tables which allow you to enjoy your dinner while participating in one of my favorite NYC past times, people watching.

What You Should Order: Poached Farm Egg, Roast Chicken, and Honey Semifreddo

smoke jazz club

Cuisine: American New

Restaurant: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club

Address: 2751 Broadway Manhattan, NY 10025

Why You Should Go: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club is one of NYC’s most distinguished Jazz Clubs and they just so happen to have a world renowned Chef playing her tunes in the Kitchen to boot. Let Smoke set the mood for your date night with their vintage décor, candlelit tables, soulful live jazz performances, and remarkable food. It is like the Barry White songs of restaurants, if you are picking up what I am putting down.

What You Should Order: Mousse of Foie Gras, Lobster Ravioli, S’mores Brownie

BurkeWillsNYC

Cuisine: Australian

Restaurant: Burke & Willis

Address: 226 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024

Why You Should Go: Visiting Australia has always been a dream of mine, alas the never ending plane ride has always scared me away. Thanks to Burke & Willis, I can now try traditional Southern Hemisphere food, without having to endure crying infants, stale air, and 3 inches of leg room for 21 hours twice in 2 weeks.  

What You Should Order: Kangaroo Ham (+$5.00), Australian Lamb Rack (+$10.00), Affogato

Resto_Logo

Cuisine: Belgian

Restaurant: Resto

Address: 111 East 29th Street New York, NY 10016

Why You Should Go: Resto’s attempt to replicate the quant bistros that are all over Paris and Brussels is spot on, and the food transports you to these foodie havens as well. Furthermore, Resto offers outdoor seating to add to the already wonderful dining experience.

What You Should Order: Country Ham, Chicken & Liege Waffles Bacon, Honey Panna Cotta

Vermillion

Cuisine: Eclectic

Restaurant: Vermillion

Address: 480 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017

Why You Should Go: Sticking with the theme of this article, Vermillion’s culinary exploration of the intersection of Indian and Latin-American cuisine is distinctive and playful. The Restaurant Week menu was not available at the time that I published this post, which usually keeps a restaurant off my list, but I am a sucker for Indian Cuisine and their regular menu looked straight up fantastic.

What You Should Order: Your guess is as good as mine…

 Noreetuh

Cuisine: Hawaiian

Restaurant: Noreetuh

Address: 128 First Avenue Manhattan, NY 10009

Why You Should Go: Why shouldn’t you go? Unless you have access to a private jet and unlimited money, I would imagine that you don’t eat traditional Hawaiian food very often. Noreetuh offers a small slice of paradise in this otherwise brick-faced world. Plus they have a decent craft beer list and an impressive wine selection to get you into that serious vacation mood.

What You Should Order: Noreetuh Salumi, Mentaiko Spaghetti, and King’s Hawaiian Bread Pudding

KHE YO

Cuisine: Laotian

Restaurant: Khe-Yo

Address: 157 Duane St. Manhattan, NY 10013

Why You Should Go: I pride myself on rocking every single style of food that I can literally and figuratively sink my teeth into, and I have yet to have Laotian food. So, to be honest, I am not exactly sure what I would order or if it will be at the level of some of the other spots on the list. However, I am damn sure, that it will be an experience and just a quick peek at their website will show you that although I can’t guarantee anything, I am betting on Khe-Yo punching me right in the taste buds.

What You Should Order: Maine Lobster Dumplings, Steamed Red Snapper in Banana Leaf, Vanilla Rice Pudding

 Pig and Khao

Cuisine: Malaysian

Restaurant: Pig And Khao

Address: 68 Clinton St. Manhattan, NY 10002

Why You Should Go: It is not a secret here on the internets that I love pork more than the internets loves videos of cats. I have a rule whenever I am searching for a restaurant or bar and it is quite simple; follow the pig. While it may have been the name of this eatery that drew me in, it was the pork centric menu that landed it on my exclusive list of where you should eat. Oh, Pig And Khao, you had me at Pork Jowls.

What You Should Order: Grilled Pork Jowl, Pork Belly Adobo, Baby Back Ribs, Turon

Russian Tea Room

Cuisine: Russian

Restaurant: The Russian Tea Room

Address: 150 W. 57th St. Manhattan, NY 10019

Why You Should Go: For 80 years, the Russian Tea Room and its ornate décor has been wining and dining NYC’s elite. Much like a baseball fan walking into Wrigley Field, a foodie can feel the culinary history oozing from this legendary eatery. Not to mention they have, arguably, the best Russian Food this side of the Atlantic.

What You Should Order:  Team Room Red Borscht, Boeuf à la Stroganoff, Cheesecake

Root and Bone

Cuisine: Southern Fare

Restaurant: Root & Bone

Address: 200 E. 3rd St. Manhattan, NY 10009

Why You Should Go: Southern food is not for everyone, I respect and acknowledge that. However, I assure you, Southern food is for me and that is why Root & Bone lands firmly on my short list of must visit eateries in NYC. Root & Bone combines high end comfort food, southern hospitality, and culinary expertise to form, IMHO, one of the best true eating experiences the city has to offer.

What You Should Order: Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits, Braised Short Rib Meatloaf, and S’mores

socarrat paella bar

Cuisine: Spanish

Restaurant: Socarrat-Paella Bar

Address: 953 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10022 / 284 Mulberry Street New York, NY 10012 / 259 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011

Why You Should Go: What is not to like about Paella? The math is sound folks! Handfuls of amazingly seasoned seafood, meat, and vegetables + perfectly prepared rice + gigantic portions = Hot Damn. Socarrat-Paella Bar brings this amazing dish to Restaurant Week in style with several variations available.

What: Pulpo a la Plancha (Grilled Octopus), Paella de Arroz Negro (Seafood Paella with squid ink), and Churros Con Chocolate.

Green Dragon Brings World Class Sushi Back To Fair Lawn

As a local restaurant slowly becomes your go to spot, it is comparable to a blossoming friendship. At first you stick to the basics, small talk is tantamount to the rudimentary menu items, but as the relationship continues, a sense of trust develops and gradually, this new friend, errrrrr… eatery can do no wrong. In other words you have rocked every item on the menu and have never been disappointed.

Sadly, much like some of your most memorable BFF’s, these local haunts relocate without notice. No matter the reason, taxes, rent, or the necessity for more space, at first you feel optimistic. What is a thirty minute drive among friends after all? Unfortunately, as many a bumper sticker from the 1980’s communicated, “Shit Happens,” and as we all know Life Happens as well. Your visits become less frequent and excuses are flung around like excrement at a monkey preserve.

Most of the time, this is where the story ends, however recently, I was able to rekindle a foodie friendship with an amazing Chef that happened to move right back into my hometown. The restaurant I am referring to is Green Dragon and the amazing culinary mind behind there cuisine is Chef Huarong Chen A.K.A. Ken. This kids is the story of How I Met Your Sushi Chef. Ba Bum Bum Bum Bum Ba Ba Ba Baaaaaaa…

One of the first places I reviewed as The Blue Collar Foodie was the amazing Six Happiness that was located on Morlot Avenue, in Fair Lawn New Jersey. One of the reasons I fell in love with this seemingly ordinary, yet extraordinary, Chinese Take-Out joint, was the addition of Chef Ken, who was churning out some of the most intriguing and remarkable Sushi I have ever eaten. We are talking NYC good people!

Ye Olde Six Happiness

Ye Olde Six Happiness

Sadly, Six Happiness went through some changes and the original staff moved to Lodi under the name of Taste of Asian, located at 122 Essex Street in Lodi, and the food at the Fair Lawn location was never the same. To add insult to injury, Chef Ken disappeared from my life for quite some time and I was forced to eat sub-par sushi like a common street vagrant. I know… I know… First world problems, but still a problem none the less.

Thinking I had tasted Chef Ken’s epic oceanic goodness for the last time, I tried to put it out of my mind. That is until I walked into Green Dragon for the first time! In my head, Chef Ken jumped over the counter in slow motion and ran towards me, Bay Watch style, as I threw chairs and tables out of my way as I ran to him even slower. As we met in the middle of the restaurant we embraced in the greatest man hug of all time, the man hug between the foodie and the long lost Chef. In all reality, we saw each other from across the restaurant, and gave each other the obligatory standard manly greeting, the nod of acknowledgement,  but that doesn’t seem like a good ending to this anecdote at all, so we will just say the first version happened and forget about the boring truth.

Green Dragon recently opened its doors at 19-01 Fair Lawn Avenue in Fair Lawn New Jersey in place of Dish Eatery. Even though it is always unfortunate to see a new-ish restaurant like Dish close its doors, I was extremely happy to see that a Sushi and Chinese Restaurant was moving back to Fair Lawn. This happiness turned to unbridled jubilation when I saw that it was Chef Ken at the helm.

I Heart Dragons of any color.

I Heart Dragons of any color.

This establishment ain’t your normal Chinese Food take-out spot though, this is a sit-down restaurant with a fair amount of tables and a pretty extensive menu. They of course have the elementary Chinese food fare that we all crave from time to time, but they also offer specialties like Duck Fried Rice, a Bento Box, and the aforementioned Sushi.

Welcome to Green Dragon, your table to waiting.

Welcome to Green Dragon, your table to waiting.

The first time I visited Green Dragon I phoned in an order for normal, everyday Chinese Food and picked it up because that is what Kat and I were craving.  However, after seeing Chef Ken behind the Sushi counter I knew we were coming back. A few short days later, Kat and I returned to Green Dragon to experience a sit down meal at this somewhat new eatery and… Spoiler alert, we were not disappointed.

When we were seated our delightful waitress brought us a couple of glasses of water as well as a portion of Crispy Chinese Noodles complete with a side of duck sauce. *Note, I scoured the internets to find what these scrumptious little fried crunchy strips of amazeballs are actually called and came up with the utterly unimaginative designation you see above.* However, whatever you call them, they are always welcome on my table and never unappreciated.

Crispy Fried Strips Of Amazeballs

Crispy Fried Strips Of Amazeballs

Kat and I then began the constantly slothful and arduous task of ordering something from a menu that is new to us. With only a small amount of hemming and hawing Kat and I were able to come up with what we thought was a solid selection. I ordered the Shrimp Teriyaki Bento Box which comes with a garden salad, shrimp shumai, haru maki, rice, and normally a California Roll, which I paid extra to bench, and replaced it with a spicy tuna. Kat decided on the Fried Tofu and invited a Peanut Avocado Roll to the party as its plus one.

The only reason I order a salad at a Chinese Restaurant is the heavenly ginger dressing that tops the roughage. With an almost paste like consistency, this dressing is what really separates this salad from that of an ordinary pizzeria salad. Simple and fresh components make up the body of this garden salad and the ginger dressing adds a much needed flair to make it worth the nod, instead of any soup on the menu.

If they bottled this stuff I would eat it for days.

If they bottled this stuff I would eat it for days.

After our salads were devoured our entrees hit the table and Kat’s looked magical. The crispy outside of the fried tofu was the perfect complement of the warm silky inside, and when paired with the tangy sauce, this dish was spot on. Not to mention the vegetables that were served with it were fresh and had a distinct bite to them, which is always a bonus when dealing with steamed vegetables.

#AnyFriedTastesBetter #Don'tJudgeMe #TofuIsHealthyRight

#AnythingFriedTastesBetter #Don’tJudgeMe #TofuIsHealthyRight

As for my Bento Box, it what everything I wanted and more. For one thing the reason why I love Bento Boxes is not only the glutenous amount of food that is provided, but the variety as well. This box was no magnificent! (TWSS) Each element that graced this dish was undeniably tastier than the last… Until of course I took a bite of something else. The only problem I had with this wonderful meal was which bite would be my last… It was the Sushi… I freaking love that stuff. In fact, as I write this I am now realizing that I have to have more tonight.  *Edit:  I did in fact go to green dragon after writing this, and it was glorious.*

Anything with the word box in it still makes me chuckle.

Anything with the word box in it still makes me chuckle.

Speaking of Sushi, Kat’s was not half bad either, I mean for being fake Sushi and not containing any seafood at all. The presentation though was beautiful and the sushi rice was cooked expertly. Take that California, we know how to eat Avocado too and we have four seasons! HA! NEW JERSEY 1 – CALIFORNIA 0

Even Fake Sushi is better than no Sushi.

Even Fake Sushi is better than no Sushi.

In case you just looked at the Food Porn and failed to read any of the words that seeped out of my brain and landed firmly on the interwebs, I highly recommend hitting up Green Dragon. Not only is it my new Sushi spot, but it is also my new Chinese Restaurant too.

Green Dragon Asian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

You Need Yo! Sushi In Your Life!!!

Within the spacious confines of the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ, there are innumerable shops, kiosks, and restaurants. A large majority of these establishments can be found at just about any mall that exists in a metropolitan area. However, since New Jersey is the Mall capital of the world and we are a Stone’s throw away from the greatest city in the world, every once in a while a spot opens up in The GSP that is worth getting excited over.

Back in the day, when I was a rebellious youth, I was what one would consider a “Mall Rat”. This was not just a title; it was a lifestyle. There were several crews that called The Garden State Plaza home, and each of us had our own “territory,” where we would rock some footbag, smoke, drink, and talk junk about the patrons that were actually there to buy something. Our clique staked claim near the Old Entrance 1, the crème de la crème of spots back then.

Entrance 1 gave us access to the food court and all the free samples we could eat, the bus stop was within eye sight, and Sam Goody was a 5 minute stroll away. For those of you that are confused, Sam Goody was a brick and mortar store that sold CD’s because at that time downloading one song took literally 20 hours.

Even though it has been quite some time since my friends and I called the GSP our home away from home, I still consider it to be my mall, and that specific area is special to me. Sam Goody went the way of the Dodo bird after being acquired by Best Buy, and the mall has had several face lifts since I kicked my last Footbag outside Entrance 1, but it still pained me to see a shoe store, a furniture store, or a clothing store occupy the space that once was the most popular storefront in the mall.

Yo! Sushi Sign

My suffering was extinguished recently when I heard that Yo! Sushi was moving into my old stomping ground, and from what I heard about this innovative Sushi joint, I was ecstatic. As stated above, the GSP will forever be my mall, and I was proud that MY MALL was chosen to be the first Yo! Sushi restaurant to open in the United States! Take that Palisades Center, perhaps they heard that you are slowly sinking into the earth!

YoSushi Entrace

Yo! Sushi is not just your run-of-the-mill Sushi place that you can find on every corner in North Jersey.   Yo! Sushi is delivering the art of “kaiten,” or conveyor belt sushi to our beloved mall, and you should be Fraking excited about it! That is right, I said conveyor belt sushi, as in, the chef expertly prepares your sushi in their open air kitchen, places the dish on the conveyor belt, and then that piece of fish travels throughout the restaurant until a customer yoinks it off the belt and devours it.

The Yo! Sushi delivery system!

The Yo! Sushi delivery system!

As the late great Billy Mays used to say, “But wait there’s more!” Yo! Sushi is not just about Sushi; they serve over 80 Japanese inspired dishes that include hot classics, sashimi, tempura, salads, hand rolls and desserts! I, for one, love Sushi, but if your date, comrade, buddy, mother, sister, or brother does not, have no fear Yo! Sushi has something for them to sink their teeth into

Calamari anyone?

Calamari anyone?

The procedure at Yo! Sushi is as simple as it is ingenious:

Step 1: Find a Seat

Step 2: Sit down, you look weird just standing there looking at a chair!

Step 3: Order your drinks and specials from the extremely helpful staff.

Step 4: Keep your eyes on the conveyor belt of yummy that will deliver fresh mouthwatering sushi directly to your table and eat.

Yo! Sushi Takoyaki

These balls were freaking Amazeballs!!!

How do they know how much Sushi you crammed in your craw, you ask? It is simple! When you have had your fill, just tell a team member you are tapping out, and they will count your dishes and charge you accordingly. Each dish is color coded and matches a price guide that you will find in your menu.   This way you can keep track of the damage as you fervently grab plate after plate of gorgeously prepared amazeballs, no seriously, they have a Crispy Octopus ball that is called Takoyaki (See Above) that I am pretty sure is the origin of that word!

I know this is all sorts of American but I like my Wasabi in my soy.  Deal with it Trolls!

I know this is all sorts of American, but I like my Wasabi in my soy. Deal with it Trolls!

Half the fun of Yo! Sushi is trying to identify the item that is passing by you on the belt before it is out of your reach and could end up in someone else’s belly. Eating at Yo! Sushi is like being on Tinder; sometimes you swipe left when you meant to swipe right, and your soul mate ends up dating Atticus Mc Hipster Pants.

These balls were freaking Amazeballs!

A bird’s eye view of the open kitchen.

Kat and I were invited to experience Yo! Sushi during their soft opening soiree, and we are very grateful that they included us! Even though they had just opened, we could not have been more impressed. The staff was friendly and helpful, the ambiance was hip and chic, and the food was utterly magnificent. I have been to numerous Sushi spots all over this country, and I believe that Yo! Sushi was on par with the best of the best of them. The fish was fresh, the rolls were skillfully constructed, the variety was immense, and the creativity should be applauded.

Ain't that pretty!

Ain’t that pretty!

Yo! Sushi may not be the best spot for a first date due to the hustle and bustle, but in my opinion, it is the perfect place for a second or third date, a gathering between friends, or a dinner shared by a recently realized, “old married couple,” like ourselves to reminisce about the days of yore.

Kanpai (Kan-pie) translates to

Kanpai (Kan-pie) translates to “dry the glass” and is how you say cheers in Japan.

If all these damn words did not convince you check out my stash of leftover food porn from the Yo! Sushi soft opening party!

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Yo! Sushi on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie Dives into Six Happiness Sushi

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As my keys are clicking and clacking away writing this review, I can hear my fellow foodies sucking their teeth in disgust about my selection this week.  I understand that Chinese fare is not considered foodie cuisine, but remember the lesson we learned from DP’s last week about the book and cover, it applies yet again to Six Happiness. From the street it may appear to be just another Chinese food restaurant, but after you eat here just once, it will become YOUR Chinese food restaurant.

I have moved quite a bit in the past eight years of my life, and every time my hometown changes I embark on my standard provisions journey.  There are three establishments, which in my opinion, are absolute necessities for anyone that moves into a neighborhood. First, and foremost, a good pizzeria is a must, secondly one must have a bar he or she can call their own, and finally a Chinese food restaurant for the nights where cooking seems like such a challenge.  Once I find these essential stomping grounds, I can then call my residence a home.

Six Happiness filled the Chinese Food Void for me the first day I moved into Fair Lawn. After, an arduous day of moving into our new home, all I wanted was a cold beer and some much earned chow. Furthermore, I did not want to leave my land of boxes to acquire this desired nourishment. My sister, who was assisting in the move, mentioned that she had passed a small Chinese restaurant named Six Happiness right around the corner and she would venture there to pick up a variety of dishes for everyone. She returned with not only a hefty portion of delicious Chinese Food but also with a story and a house warming gift from the proprietor. Not only was every dish just as good, if not better than any other of the Chinese food restaurants that I have frequented, but once the manager found out that I had just moved in, she gave my sister a calendar for the upcoming year and wished us good fortune in the neighborhood.

One does not have to be a foodie to understand that customer service is a huge part of the dining experience. Everyone has dealt with that surly waitress/waiter that ruins your dining event and taints your memory of the establishment he or she works for.  The wonderful staff at Six Happiness are always smiling and extremely helpful, even during the stressful dinner rush. The female that is constantly behind the counter, greets you when you walk-in, by name if you are a regular, and can seemingly take three orders at once, while preparing a to-go order.  When you walk into Six Happiness you cannot help but feel welcomed.

So, did I confuse all my foodie readers yet?  I know what you are thinking; Chinese food is great but is this not a foodie blog!  You are outraged that I would profess to be a foodie and then choose a boring old Chinese food restaurant for my second review. Now take a breath and calm down, Freaked Out Foodie, don’t close the browser just yet, the reason Six Happiness should be on everyone’s foodie radar is not because of their General Tso’s and Moo Shu, but rather because of their simply divine Sushi and Sashimi. That is right, not too long ago, Six Happiness added a Sushi Bar to their repertoire and decided to leave all other Chinese food establishments in the area in their dust.

This is not just a Chinese food restaurant peddling a few rolls made from frozen fish and soggy rice; this is a real deal sushi menu that would rival any true New York City sushi bar.  From the usual suspects on every sushi menu such as the Philly Roll, the Alaskan Roll and the Eel Avocado Roll all for just $4.95 each, to the not-so standard Spicy White Tuna Roll, Yellow Tail Jalapeño Roll, and the Shrimp Mango Roll, for just a little bit extra. There are way too many exquisite specialty roll options to mention here but they do offer a myriad of choices in this category as well as daily sushi roll specials to boot. The special rolls vary in price from $8.95 to $13.95, which at first seems high, until you order one and realize that they are well worth the price. I have never had a piece of sashimi or sushi at Six Happiness that I was not content with, as the fish always tastes fresh and the dishes are artfully prepared by the sushi chefs.

This weekend my wife, Kat, and I invited our guest foodie, Evan, to Six Happiness to partake in their lovely offerings. When we arrived, Evan, a foodie blogger himself, was perplexed on why we chose this restaurant out of all the foodie havens that are peppered throughout Northern New Jersey. I assured Evan that he would become a believer after dining at Six Happiness. As you enter the main door, this establishment appears to be nothing more than an average Chinese restaurant complete with the ever-present pictorial menu hanging above the counter. But off to the right is a small sushi bar which has about four tables awaiting the guests of Six Happiness Sushi.

The three of us entered the restaurant and were greeted by the delightful proprietor I described above, and decided to sit at the bar so we could watch the chef’s create the magnificent dishes we were about to order. As I stated in my last blog, Kat does not eat seafood, so she ordered the Veggie Roll Combo for $8.95, which consists of a Cucumber Roll, an Oshinko Yamagobo Roll, and an Avocado roll.  Evan and I decided to share the Deluxe Sushi for Two entrée, which consisted of a Rainbow Roll and a Spicy Tuna Roll plus a variety of 16 other pieces of delectable Sushi for only $28.95. Each of our meals included a rather large salad, with a fantastic homemade ginger dressing, and Kat ordered some edamame for the table as well. If the prices were not spectacular to begin with, Six Happiness is also a bring your own bottle establishment, which in turn will save you even more money.

We opened the bottle of white wine we had brought along with us and awaited our salads with some light dinner conversation. Shortly after ordering, our salads arrived, along with the edamame. The salads offer a generous portion of fresh lettuce and tomato but it is really the dressing, as stated above, that is the star of this course. The edamame are lightly salted and cooked to perfection, leaving the end product simply delightful. At only $3.95, the edamame is a great added treat while you await the main course to arrive.

Our sushi arrived within minutes of us completing the salads and edamame. Kat enjoyed her veggie rolls as she always does. She loves the simplistic nature of the rolls they serve at Six Happiness, as opposed to some of the other local sushi places we have been to, that try to mix too many items into a veggie roll which tends to ruin them.

As for the Deluxe Sushi platter, I could not have been happier with our decision.  The Rainbow Roll combined an array of different sashimi which is draped over a California Roll. All the fish involved was tender and amazingly fresh, plus the chefs had expertly created this roll. The Spicy Tuna Roll not only tasted great, but also had a welcome texture that other Spicy Tuna Rolls I have had in the past have lacked. I assume that they added a small amount of tempura crisps into the roll which give it just the right amount of crunchy goodness.

As we finished up our rolls the 16-piece sushi plate was served. The plate was extremely colorful and looked more like a piece of art than a plateful of food. As we began to taste the variety of fish that were on the plate, one thing became very apparent; this was not two-day-old fish. We were eating fresh, White Fish, Yellow Tail, and Salmon, which tasted like it was caught this morning. Then I took a bite of the Eel and like always, fell in love with Six Happiness Sushi all over again. Most places tend to over cook their eel, causing it to be tough and chewy; this eel was extremely tender and seasoned just right.

After Evan and I fought over the last piece of sushi and there was no more wine left to drink, we decided to get the check and head out.  We had a coupon with us for 10 percent off, so the grand total of this fabulous meal was $39.60, which I was more than happy to pay. After signing our check and tipping the sushi Chefs we were on our way with full bellies and a decent amount of money still in our wallets.

The best part of Six Happiness is that it is not only our go to Chinese food restaurant but also our regular Sushi spot as well. This is a huge deal for all the mothers and fathers that read this blog — now you can order sushi for you and pork lo mein for the kids. That is right, you can mix and match your order and they will deliver it directly to your doorstep, free of charge. Six Happiness not only delivers your food, but they also deliver excellent customer service and high quality eats at Blue Collar prices.

Location:

21-08 Morlot Ave

Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

Hours:  Mon – Thu, 11am – 10pm; Fri, Sat, 11am – 11pm; Sun, noon – 10pm

Judgement:

Overall 4 out of 5

Taste   4 out of 5

Presentation 5 out of 5

Value 3 out of 5

Six Happiness on Urbanspoon