New Blue Ribbon Izakaya and Sushi
The space is quite nice, located on second floor of the Thompson LES hotel.
I was never a fan of the old Blue Ribbon sushi, but I think they upped their quality of sushi.
The sushi and sashimi are excellently prepared. All 4 sushi chefs, are Japanese, and seem very smiled. They are friendly and have a good assortment of fish. Of particular note, was the Kindai chu toro, which melted in your mouth and was delicious. The Aji was amazing, expertly cut into small pieces that were laid along side the head and skeleton. The bones and head were later fried and were delicious. The omakase is only $75, a bargain I think. I will try that next time.
The hamachi tataki tartare with a quail egg on top was quite good. The little dish of jelly fish I had went well with my sake.
Now, on to the cooked things.
The Kushi Yaki Skewers were great. The Mountain yam with Macadamia Nuts tasted great with a little spiciness to it. The sea scallop in miso butter skewer was fantastic.
The bone marrow with sea salt, shaved bonito and teriyaki sauce was quite good.
The Beef Tongue with black truffle, shitake and teriyaki was amazing. It had the feel of filet mignon. It was tender and just so good. That is the best beef tongue I have had in a Japanese restaurant. Far better than the beef tongue that Kyo Ya served.
The Sweetbread Tempura was done very well. I chose to eat it with sea salt instead of the ponzu they offered.
There are several different rice dishes to choose from. I chose the squid ink rice with squid strips in it and served with uni on top. This was a very tasty dish, prepared well. I was in the mood for squid ink rice, after talking about Venice food on another post.
I had no room for dessert.
The waiters and waitresses were very knowledgable of all the dishes. They gave service with a smile.
My only complaint was there was a big delay after the first course and then many dishes came at the same time. The restaurant was busy and I am sure that the way the food was served isn't the usual.
I will surely be back there, as there are so many dishes I didn't get a chance to try. I was really happy about the sushi being top notch. I attached some pictures. I rushed the shots , so I hope they are appetizing, I ate a couple of dishes before I remembered to photograph them . I was so hungry.
FYI, the nice outdoor patio is no longer part of the main restaurant, but a separate entity with an extremely small and kinda boring menu. They call it a beer garden, as there are long communal picnic tables. They were also selling chocolate chip cookies (prepackaged) and nuts (prepackaged) on the "snacks" part of the menu.
We ate in the main restaurant. Dishes were, as usual, quite good. Blue fin toro tartre, scallop skewers, spicy cucumber, bean sprouts.
Also tried something new to us, the seared duck breast with grilled napa cabbage and pickled apples. Wonderful. Duck was cut into succulent little cubes and was medium in the center. Grilled cabbage was wonderfully smoky.
Hi, are the Aji 2 ways and the Salmon fillet with crisp skin still on the menu? If yes, are they called something else? I wasn't able to locate those dishes on the menu.
Also, I'm trying to get an idea of the portion sizes. For 3 people, I'm considering,
1. Hamachi Tataki tartare with quail egg
- Sea Scallop in Miso Butter
- Smoked pork belly with pickled red onions
- Short rib
3. Beef tongue with black truffle, shitake and teriyaki
4. Fried rice
- Oxtail and bone marrow
- Squid, squid ink and uni
5. Thinly sliced amberjack with yuzu pepper
6. Chicken liver mousse with miso
Any suggestions on whether this is too much/too little? Thanks!
Not sure about the salmon fillet, but the aji two ways is always on the menu when l go, in the "specials" section attached to the inside front cover.
l haven't had everything you've listed, but all of the fried rice dishes make for a very satisfying meal for one; with all the other stuff you've got there, you'll have plenty to go around.
Skewer portions are small, two skewers to an order. You might consider ordering a couple more.
There are, l think, four or five pieces in an order of beef tongue, and each one is bite-sized; since this dish is absolutely delicious, you may want to double up on it.
The chicken liver mousse is a pretty good-size order, and comes with plenty of challah.
l'd say that what you've listed might be a little on the light side if you're pretty hungry or are big eaters, though the rice and challah are pretty filling. The service there is knowledgeable and excellent, so you can ask their opinion, too. lf you feel you need more, by all means order more! l've done that there plenty of times; the staff certainly wouldn't complain about it.
Have a great meal!
I tried to order everything suggested in the thread.
The sweetbread tempura was good but a tad overcooked. I would have preferred it to be creamier and less firm.
The shortrib skewer was delicious. It was tender and had a bit of bite at the same time.
The Smoked Pork Belly skewer reminded me of a very small portion of the slab bacon you find at a steakhouse. The pickled onions were a nice touch but overall I think I prefer slab bacon.
The sea scallop skewer was good but what I liked best was the butter. I'm starting to think I prefer raw scallops to cooked ones.
I forgot to order the chicken liver mousse.
The wings were great, meaty and moist with great dipping sauces but absurdly priced at 2.50 per section.
The Oxtail & Bone Marrow fried rice was as advertised, extremely tasty and pleasingly greasy. The hot sauce that is provided goes great with it.
The texture of the Beef Tongue was perfect, but for me the sauce overpowered the taste of the tongue completely.
I selected the $85 Toshi's Choice and was pleasantly surprised when the waiter told me that I didn't have to order the aji two ways because it was usually included in the platter.
The table next to me had the Blue Ribbon platter and it seems like that is just the Toshi x 2.5. The sashimi was ok, the most memorable items being the salmon and the aji. I had asked for more sushi than sashimi but I think my request was forgotten or ignored. The fried bones were good but I think the concept works better on smaller fish. I took a large bite out of the fried head and got caught on the big bone that divides the head in half. I'm used to smaller fried fish were you can just crunch through every part of it.
I also had the food timing issue mentioned by others. You either have more food than you can eat before things cool off or you have nothing for long periods of time.
It was good to hear you tried so many of the items and thanks for the review. I agree with you about the spotty service, where the food comes out too fast and you have a table full or not at all. This doesn't happen all the time, but it happens often if you are at a table. At the sushi bar, usually service is much better. Were you at a table? Usually, with the omakase at the sushi bar, you get many more dishes than at a table. Perhaps that is due to communication with the chefs.
As far as your fried bones, aji is probably the most common fish that fried bones are used. As far as the head goes, usually it's just the body bones that are served as the head might not fry throughout.
The beef tongue dish I have never found overpowered by other flavors, perhaps they had a different chef when you were there.
All in all, I hope the pluses outweighed the minuses. I really like the place and the sushi quality is excellent. My only gripe that I still can't figure out the logic of Blue Ribbon, is that they do not use fresh wasabi. Their logic is, "we are Izakaya" ,, as to say we are not a fancy restaurant that uses fresh wasabi. This is sad.
oops,,, i responded to an October post.
I confirm Howdini's response, aji two ways is on the menu, I had it last week. The salmon with crisp skin , was a fantastic dish. They took it off the menu a few months ago. The chef told me he would be making it a "special" every now and then.
As far as what Indefoodie wants to order. I recommend adding sushi to the list. I normally get a sushi omakase, which is fantastic. then I would add some skewers, ( maybe 2 skewers, definitely the scallop) , I add the beef tongue, I'm not sure if the aji 2 ways will come with omakase, but definitely get that dish. 1 rice dish is enough for 3 people to get a good sampling of it and not get overstuffed.
If you don't get the sushi, then you did not order too much food, perhaps add a sushi dish to what you have already ordered.
Had the "burger" [BINO: burger in name only] after work the night before last: insane umamibomb. Presented open-faced, in a kind of 2"x5" rectangle, topped with thinly sliced sea scallop, wild mushrooms [not sure of the type: kinda like slightly-larger enoki] and smelt roe. A hot mess, but really delicious. Served with their fabulous onion tempura. l hadn't had dinner at work that night, and was *really* hungry: it did a great job filling me up, at just under $20 after tax [before tip].
They comped me an order of edamame [l go there fairly regularly, and have become friendly with the host] to start. Best l've ever had: perfectly cooked, with an extra patina of umami that l'd never tasted in edamame before. l asked if they were marinated in tamari or something before steaming; they explained that the additional flavor comes from the special [smoked? can't remember] sea salt that they use. Highly recommend it.
Had another very good dinner here tonight. Sat outside on the nice, big, and new deck. Hamachi tartare was good as before. Loved the thinly sliced amberjack with yuzu pepper! Also tried the Pheonix roll--mixed vegetables with the cucumber standing in for nori, topped with avocado, no rice. Tasty. Really liked the spicy cucumber salad again. Got the short rib skewer and pork belly skewer again, and added on the mushroom skewer, must try the scallop one next time. Mushroom one was good but I think I don't like the texture of the mushrooms they used. Finished off with the sashimi platter. Decent tuna, snapper, very good salmon, excellent bonito.
You should definitely do the scallop skewer, it's really good. The tongue is amazing also. The omakase is terrific to get at the sushi bar. But ask for the pieces one at a time, otherwise you get it all at once. It's $75 , which is a fantastic deal compared to elsewhere. Dessert I like to go around the corner to Laboratorio Gelato
The aji two ways, I agree is an excellent dish. I am a big fan of fried bones. It is a good deal also, I forget how many sashimi pieces they cut it into but i'd say about 12 from head to tail, 6 on each side. The consistency varies slightly from the front pieces vs the rear pieces, all being excellent. I usually just add it to the omakase. I hope they get more people going there, they are empty most of the time. They rotate 1 sushi chef from the other Blue Ribbon sushi places, I've noticed on weekends. Also, the executive chef for the kitchen food is excellent.
Agree totally: the aji x2 is a terrific value, and so much fun to eat at the end!
l really enjoy going there: the ambiance is cool, the music choices are mostly excellent, the service so friendly and solicitous, and of course the food. lt feels like a special event every time l go.
l've got to be careful with my budget, so the omakase isn't too realistic for me: l try to get out at under $75 when l go with my gf, and we can usually do it pretty easily. We often share the NY strip and a couple of veg dishes and salad. Have you tried the NY strip yet? lt's great: l had Minetta Tavern's bone-in cut last week for the first time, and, while superior, l'm not sure if it was $25 superior.
lt's usually pretty empty when l go there, too, but that's not surprising, as l'm usually there at about midnight or 1am on weeknights, after work. l guess they have built-in, consistent business from the hotel. Do you go there during prime time?
I was there the other night, prime time. The place was packed. However, I was with a party of 6 and we sat outside on the terrace. it was really nice eating outside. It was roomy, the service was great and I called last minute and there was still room on the terrace. we ate for 3 hours. The $95 lobster made into sashimi and sushi was really good, but perhaps a little high priced. The omakase is much better at the sushi bar. At a table you get it all at once, and no extra courses like you get at sushi bar. It is only $75 and well worth it.
Just to add 2 more cents... (Spoiler: I pretty much agree with the general sentiment in this thread; the food is quite good.)
I had a late-ish-Thursday-night dinner here a week ago with two other friends, one of whom was an out-of-towner. The visitor wanted to eat on the LES but also wanted to be able to converse. So, based on this thread's comments -- that the venue was oddly not-busy -- I chose here. It was indeed merely pleasantly busy, at a time when other LES spots are absolutely slammed. The three of us were seated at a table outfitted with a lazy Susan that could've easily sat 8. I kept expecting another party to be seated with us, dim-sum-parlor-style! But no, it just turned out to be a lot of comfortable space to spread our smorgasbord out in.
We went hog-wild, ordering virtually all the dishes already mentioned in this thread:
hearts of palm kinpira - clean, refreshing
leek sunomono - even cleaner and refreshinger. nice dish for a hot summer.
beef tongue - lived up to foodwhisperer's billing; deeply meaty, the brush of teriyaki sauce providing a nice counterpoint, perfect toppings. could've eaten 4 of these.
sea scallop & miso butter skewer - another palpable hit; perfectly cooked, and the most satisfying scallop dish I've had this year this side of Tocqueville.
smoked pork belly & pickled onions - very good, with the pickled onions cutting the fat of the pork belly nicely.
eringi mushroom skewer - inoffensive
anago tempura - a little disappointing. usually I find fried food at izakayas to be spot-on, but here the tempura crust seemed a touch heavy, and the eelness got lost in it.
wings - also disappointing, to my great surprise; I love the fried chicken at the original Blue Ribbon. someone already used the word "chalky" to describe the skin texture, which I agree with. very moist meat, though, and addictive chile and wasabi honey dipping sauces.
smoked hamachi shiitake hakozushi - amusing flavor combo. passable sushi rice. nothing really wrong with it, but probably would not order again.
squid, squid ink & uni fried rice - really good. nice texture on the the squid ink rice as well as the squid itself. not sure the uni really adds that much to the dish, though who am I to argue with generous tongues of solid uni?
oxtail & bone marrow fried rice - holy crap. this alreadyhas been available at other Blue Ribbon restaurants?! what have I been doing all my life? this was friggin' amazing, the warm slick of the marrow fat incorporating into the rice after breaking it out of its omelette purse. perfect amount of tender oxtail. perfect salting. just a phenomenal dish.
aji two ways - better sashimi than I was expecting, and the frying of the head/fins/bones was of course just as awesome as it sounds like it's going to be.
The service was a bit wonky, everything coming out sort of haphazardly, and me having to ask them to fry the bones despite them telling me when I ordered that they'd do it automatically. But they were quite nice, for sure.
All that food ended up being rather expensive, which seemed fine for celebrating my visitor's trip to NYC, but YMMV. Perfect atmosphere for our needs, and obviously I was a fan of a lot of the food. Not sure I'd primarily go with the sushi there, the rice in the hakozushi being what it was, but admittedly didn't really explore that part of the menu.
Anyway, I think the place deserves the support of even the most discerning Japanese-foodie. Very satisfying meal.
Thanks for the reviews Kathryn and Sappidus. I'm glad you both for the most part thought the food at Blue Ribbon izakaya is good. I went back last night and this time sat at a table and tried all cooked dishes. I still want to try the sushi here. I felt bad that 4 sushi chefs were just standing around an empty sushi bar. Based on my taste of some sashimi, i think the sushi will be quite acceptable. In any case, last night I had the scallop skewer again, I figured i would pick a sure winner as I had this before. The salmon fillet with crisp skin over a tapioca and fennel base layer was fantastic. I wish I knew how to get the skin crisp like that when I cook my fish. The ribs were good, the meat fell right off the bones. I like that they give you a choice of how many ribs you want, i think 4,8 and 12. The bok choy was nothing special but not bad.. The oxtail and bone marrow base was excellent. Here too, they give you a choice of a half order or a full order. Its a quite filling dish, so if you are going to have several dishes i would opt for a half order. The flour less chocolate cake with green tea ice cream dessert was good. The bill was about $130 including a couple of glasses of wine and tax. Not cheap but not outrageous.
We went here a few nights ago. We loved the yellowtail tartare with quail egg and scallions. The spicy cucumber salad with habanero, shiso leaves, and sour cream was great, too. I think the shiso was an interesting foil to the creamy dressing.
The pork belly skewer with pickled red onions and watercress was amazing. I could probably eat 5-6 of these. The short rib with mustard aioli skewer was also very, very good. Very tender and flavorful.
I had a sashimi plate and while it wasn't out of this world, the salmon and mackerel were of good quality. The quality of fish and knife work seemed much better than the Soho location.
We were also seated in a big cushy booth that was meant for 4 people, which was nice. It's sleek, spacious, nice and cool on a hot day, and the service was excellent. I think it's better thought of as a place that does creative cooked dishes well, and happens to have some decent sushi as well.
Tonite I tried the omakase at Blue Ribbon Izakaya. I will start out by saying the $75 for omakase is a great deal. The sushi chefs are quite skilled. I spoke to 2 of them. One worked at Hatsuhana, and Nobu. The other at Nobu and Ushiwakamaru. They worked elsewhere also but those are good credentials. It is much better than the old Blue Ribbon sushi. The flying fish sushi was very good. The tuna was very good quality. I had some "extra" dishes, one standout dish was miruhimobatter( mirugai liver in a soy butter sauce). My only complaint was that they do not use fresh wasabi. The executive chef thinks because it is an izakaya place there is no need for fresh wasabi, for that matter uni from Hokkaido. The service was excellent, the chefs friendly. We also had a lot of cooked dishes from the menu. I attached 2 pictures of dishes in front of me on the counter. One is a lobster dish where they cut up a lobster and make chopped sashimi, lobster rolled in egg, claws and more. The other was omakase for two, served at a table. The whole fish in the photo is a flying fish (tobiko). I recommend this place for sushi, which is contrary to many reviews. The place was packed tonite. Ordering sushi a la carte is not the way to go. The omakase is very worth it. I had 5 pieces of various tuna. sockeye salmon, tasmanian sea trout, flying fish, shim aji, aji, saba, suzuki, hirame, kanpachi, iwashi, anago, barracuda, and more. This place is great.
Wow.. They look delicous. I should try this place out soon!
Thanks for your great review. It is very informative.
Just one minor thing though.
I think "mirugai liver" should be "mirukimo".
Also, flying fish in Japanese is "tobiuo (飛魚)".
"Tobiko (飛子)" means the roe of "tobiuo (飛魚)".
P.S. When this place first released its menu, I almost fell out of my chair when I found "Ise Ebi Sashimi" on the menu. Later, I found that it is just lobster sashimi though. LOL
i went last night for a quick solo meal...while i didn't try many of the dishes listed above, i wasn't thrilled...imo, it's about the same as the original Blue Ribbon Sushi -- i.e. slightly above average fish, average-at-best sushi-making, very overpriced foodwise, a nice sultry space, friendly service.
i had: tofu-seaweed salad (pretty awful as it was sitting in literally a cup of vinegar/pozu, almost like a vinegar soup)...one piece madai sashimi (ok), two pieces meso anago nigiri (ok, but wildly overpriced at 8.75 per piece!), one piece toro nigiri (tasted like straight defrosted maguro to me and cost ten bucks), a negi-hama maki (fine), two pieces of albacore sashimi (average)...two glasses of shochu...my bill: 93 dollars before tip...
Service was super-friendly (servers and hosts and sushi chefs)...so i left 20 for tip: 113 dollars for a small meal of average sushi...
I could see coming back on a date to sit on the patio or enjoy the loungeyness if wanted an expensive snack and some drinks...and i'd like to try the squid ink rice with uni (two girls sitting nearby were loving their bowl of it)...but w/ so many better sushi options (e.g. Ushi Wakamaru, 15 East, etc), i can't imagine that i'd ever get a full omakase here...
Simon, the cooked food is really delicious. The aji I had was excellent, the toro was that farmed Kindai Tuna when I was there. I didn't have any other sushi, but the maitre d' told me which sushi chef I should request if I had omakase. So i think there are different levels of experience from one chef to the next. I will try the omakase, and I hope the fish comes out better than you describe.
I had Brushstroke sushi tonite, which is the "real deal"
I've been here a number of times now (it's right around the corner from where I work). The aji two ways is really incredible: horse mackerel sashimi is one of my favorite things, and it is certainly great here, but more, I love that they take away the raw head/spine/tail, to return a couple of minutes later with the entire thing deep fried to a delicious crisp. I asked the waiter which parts of it were good to eat, and he was kinda cagey in his answer, so I just dug in. Turns out *every* last bit of it is good eatin', including the entire head and tail. Johnny, the night manager, told me that the chef had tried to do this with a bunch of different fish, and aji was the only one it worked with.
The spicy cucumber is excellent: cooling and firey at once. Also wonderful are the hearts of palm, rich and full of umami goodness.
Tried the ribeye, which was very good, but had a lot of inedible fat on it; it comes with onion tempura, and who could argue with that?
The real star for me is their NY strip: I've never had it so meltingly tender, perfectly seasoned with just enough salt. I crave it too often for my wallet's well-being.
Blue Ribbon, Mission Chinese; we're getting some really excellent restaurant within a block of my job, and it makes me very happy!
ETA: I had a few of the skewers as well, the standout for me being the beef tenderloin; the short rib skewer was too chewy. Another great app is the baked clams with miso butter: as a kid I used to love getting baked clams in our local diner; these took me back to that, with the advantage of being much, much better.
I was just there and I asked about the omakase, but it is only sushi/sashimi, and I wanted to try the new stuff so I didn't get it.
I really loved the skewers- especially the scallops. Everything was pretty solid- I got a lot of my favorites from the old sushi menu plus tried a few new things.
Another standout dish was the bone marrow fried rice.
The only disappointing thing was the chicken wings, which I had heard really good reviews of, but when we got them the texture on the outside was a little chalky. I was ok with it, but some people in my party really didn't like them.
The only other thing is when I went, at 7pm on a Thursday, the place was really empty. I was a little surprised, given how new the place is.
I too, loved the scallop skewers and the bone marrow. I do want to try the omakase, because the sashimi I did try was very good. Did you enjoy your sashimi? the sushi chefs seemed to know what they were doing and the fish quality seemed top notch. I hope they get some good reviews from NY times or NY magazine, just to keep the business healthy. I 'd hate to lose a good restaurant. The good news, is we can get in now without a problem.
I think they are strong all around. Next time I go, I will try the sushi omakase. Based on the aji I had, and watching the sushi chefs, I think they will do a good job with omakase. The tongue was amazing, the squid ink was too. The skewers were too. So all around good. I have to try the desserts too. They need to do something about the smelly brand new sake boxes though.
The beef tongue was on a higher level than Kyo Ya, but Kyo Ya is better overall. Kyo Ya kaiseki is more traditional kaiseki and more "Japanese". However,Blue Ribbon doesn't claim to be Japanese Kaiseki, so it is just a good place to eat some well prepared, interesting dishes. Also, Kyo Ya would never bring so many dishes at once, the food is perfectly times at Kyo Ya. Blue Ribbon seemed to have a problem with timing.
Another issue I had, was the sake wood boxes were brand new. They had a strong aroma of freshly made and treated wood. It took away from the taste of the sake. I have never experienced that before , so i'm not sure how to fix that problem.