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"Bugs" Japanese restaurant (Yasuda-trained japanese chef's new restaurant) in East Village

silencespeak Oct 11, 2012 10:40 AM

Hey all,

I have been a loyal Sushi Yasuda patron for many years. Walking in the East Village last night, I stopped by the new restaurant called Bugs on 12th St between A and B. A former student of Yasuda's for 10 years, this Osaka-born female chef Sho Boo opened up her own place.

I had the Snapper dish last night, and it was -ridiculously good!- Eating it reminded me why I'm a foodie... and only for $12! It was incredible! Anyone else been?

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  1. LeahBaila RE: silencespeak Oct 11, 2012 11:06 AM

    That has got to be the WORST restaurant name I've ever heard. Tell me there's a story/meaning behind it? Something?

    17 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila
      mwhitmore RE: LeahBaila Oct 11, 2012 11:12 AM

      Well, it could be great name for a restaurant specializing in crawfish aka mudbugs. But apparently isn't.

      1. re: mwhitmore
        LeahBaila RE: mwhitmore Oct 11, 2012 11:16 AM

        Hah! This is true...

      2. re: LeahBaila
        crsin RE: LeahBaila Oct 15, 2012 02:41 PM

        heh, I kind of like the name in a playful sense (although apparently the chef intended it in a more serious way...)

        1. re: crsin
          foodwhisperer RE: crsin Oct 15, 2012 05:46 PM

          Chef has a sense of humor. I discussed the name with her. But basically she wants people to gather there, light bugs to a flame. Enough about the name, the food is delicious. I posted pictures of some of the dishes

          1. re: crsin
            unagi1 RE: crsin Oct 15, 2012 06:02 PM

            Pretty sure she was serious when she thought it up...;-)

            1. re: unagi1
              foodwhisperer RE: unagi1 Oct 15, 2012 06:48 PM

              Well, she was serious, since she used it in Japan also. But it's a better name than "vomit" .
              What does Starbucks mean anyway? Big Gay Ice Cream Shop...Big Wong,,, so many names . Anyway, try her lotus ebi shinjo, very good.

              1. re: foodwhisperer
                unagi1 RE: foodwhisperer Oct 15, 2012 07:35 PM

                I saw your post re: Gari-san. How does this chef's creativity stack up with his...in your opinion of course.

                1. re: unagi1
                  foodwhisperer RE: unagi1 Oct 16, 2012 07:25 AM

                  She is not as creative on the sushi as Gari-san, she uses more Japanese type ingredients, not cream cheese and tomato or foie gras. I like her style. At Jewel Bako she was exceptional.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer
                    unagi1 RE: foodwhisperer Oct 16, 2012 03:58 PM

                    Thanks for the info; the menu looks pretty straightforward with respect to those basic type of ingredients. The only item from out in left field was the Berkshire Pork Belly.

                    1. re: unagi1
                      foodwhisperer RE: unagi1 Oct 16, 2012 07:00 PM

                      The pork belly is very good. I didn't actually think it was from "left field" since Kyo Ya , En, Brushstroke who all have ebi shinjo, also have pork belly. I didn't particularly think the mashed potatoes aka cold potato salad went so well with it, other potatoes or mountain yam might have been a better accompaniment

                      1. re: foodwhisperer
                        unagi1 RE: foodwhisperer Oct 16, 2012 08:33 PM

                        In my opinion, that one dish is out from left field, since cha shu is traditionally served over ramen, not mashed potato -- it's definitely an American interpretation. Also, Kurobuta pork seems to grow on trees in NYC, but is extremely limited in Japan and not typically seen in that type of presentation.

                        1. re: unagi1
                          foodwhisperer RE: unagi1 Oct 16, 2012 08:45 PM

                          Interesting, the only pork I remember having in Japan was tonkatsu or in ramen. But here in what they call "kaiseki" places, like the ones I mentioned ( Kyo Ya, En, Brushstroke, Rosanjin, Kajitsu, Kai), they all ( not kajitsu) seem to serve pork belly, so i assumed it was common in japan, just that I hadn't gone to right area for it. However, I will say that none of the so called kaiseki restaurants in NYC (that i've tried) compares to the great kaiseki of Kyoto, japan. Not even close.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer
                            unagi1 RE: foodwhisperer Oct 17, 2012 08:29 AM

                            Agreed, it's just on a completely different level. One of our favorite areas was the Nishiki market, where we picked up some of the local cooking ingredients( miso paste, bonito, soy sauce) to take back home, as well as picked through endless types of pickled vegetables (tsukemono).:


                            1. re: unagi1
                              foodwhisperer RE: unagi1 Oct 17, 2012 01:42 PM

                              Nishiki market is awesome. The pickled vegetables are greatly appreciated gifts to bring back from Kyoto for Japanese friends.

                2. re: foodwhisperer
                  Lau RE: foodwhisperer Oct 16, 2012 05:11 AM

                  haha big wong actually means somehting it effectively mean "big prosperous", but basically very prosperous which is a very chinese thing to name yourself

                  1. re: foodwhisperer
                    Sneakeater RE: foodwhisperer Oct 16, 2012 11:44 AM

                    I hope we all know what Starbucks means.

                    1. re: Sneakeater
                      Polecat RE: Sneakeater Mar 15, 2013 06:50 PM

                      Moby Dick reference, I think. Take that, Big Wong!

            2. l
              Lau RE: silencespeak Oct 11, 2012 11:21 AM

              haha this is literally an awful name for a restaurant...wth

              hmm was she in the kitchen at yasuda? i dont remember ever seeing a female sushi chef at yasuda and ive been going there for a while (its funny i dont think ive ever see a female sushi chef now that i think about it)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Lau
                Ricky RE: Lau Oct 11, 2012 01:09 PM

                I remember a female sushi chef at yasuda years ago. 15 East had one for a while.

                1. re: Lau
                  foodwhisperer RE: Lau Oct 12, 2012 08:21 PM

                  I don't recall a female chef at Yasuda. However, Jewel Bako had an amazing female sushi chef. 15 East had a female chef a few months ago, i forgot her name. They had a female chef in the kitchen also, I think from Hanamura An. Taka the chef/owner of the old Taka( formerly Fukuda restaurant) was a terrific sushi chef and artist. Oh i came back to edit,,,i went to the link posted by silencespeak, yes she was the 2nd chef , alongside Yoshi-san. at Jewel Bako, She is excellent.

                2. s
                  silencespeak RE: silencespeak Oct 11, 2012 01:52 PM

                  Here's some press about it:



                  Apparently she is also a Jewel Bako alum.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: silencespeak
                    unagi1 RE: silencespeak Oct 11, 2012 02:00 PM

                    Wow....I'm sure she means well, but that definitely got Lost In Translation...

                    Looking over the menu, The non-alcohole beer and sparking water look interesting.

                    1. re: unagi1
                      Lau RE: unagi1 Oct 11, 2012 02:16 PM

                      "Bugs tend to gather, especially around a bright light and this restaurant is the bright light that everyone would gather around."

                      i think someone is smoking crack in the east village

                      1. re: Lau
                        unagi1 RE: Lau Oct 11, 2012 02:22 PM

                        It's a very Japanese type of reference. According to the links in the article, she had a bar with the same name in Osaka and got away with it. In Japan, it's "cool" to assign English names to objects that would make no sense otherwise on the planet. Ever had a bottle of Pocari Sweat?

                        1. re: unagi1
                          Lau RE: unagi1 Oct 11, 2012 02:53 PM

                          most of asia is like that

                          when i lived in singapore, i remember people wearing t-shirts that had non-sensical random english words on them that alot of teenagers would wear....although that was sort of funnier b/c everyone in singapore under the age of 50 is fluent in english in singapore

                          1. re: unagi1
                            BuildingMyBento RE: unagi1 Oct 13, 2012 10:05 PM

                            Or a box of D'Asse?

                          2. re: Lau
                            kathryn RE: Lau Oct 11, 2012 03:37 PM

                            But if that is what they're going for, why not name the restaurant Lights or Campfire or Lantern?!

                            Maybe it should be a reference to Bugs Bunny?

                      2. r
                        Ricky RE: silencespeak Oct 12, 2012 07:09 AM

                        Looks like Gari style sushi.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Ricky
                          foodwhisperer RE: Ricky Oct 13, 2012 07:54 PM

                          I really like this place. I hope Pete Wells doesn't review. I want to keep it secret as long as possible. Kyo Ya , Ichimura, Brooklyn Fare, all get too popular. I even like the name "Bugs", bugs gather to the light, and she wants people to gather in her restaurant.
                          It is, as one review says, it is like eating in someone's kitchen. The sushi is somewhat "new style" sushi. Although, the scallop was like 15 East, and Jewel Bako , with Yuzu and rock salt.
                          The tasting menu started with delicious soup. Chef Sho called it Minestrone ( tomato, potato, tofu, maybe a touch of cream), then some miso and salted edamame. This was followed by a "triple tartare dish". Hamachi, salmon, tuna, it had some mayo mixed into it.
                          This was followed with pork belly over cold potato salad ( they said mashed potato). It was very tasty. Then a wonderful lotus root with ebi shinjo in a delicious thick
                          broth very similar to Kyo Ya's ,The sushi started with a tuna topped with pickled eggplant, followed by engawa topped with miso and scallion ( i think), then the scallop with yuzu and salt, then raw beef tenderloin with scallion, followed by marinated tuna and crispy garlic, followed by cooked amaebi topped with wasabi sauce, and the last sushi piece was sawara with a fantastic uni sauce underneath it. The articles say snapper but sawara is like a spanish mackerel. Then I had some oshinko. The quality of the fish was very good, very fresh. The shari or sushi rice was a bit too dry and no vinegar taste at all.
                          They do not have a liquor license and you can't bring your own alcohol in, at this time. They do not offer desserts either. Their hours are 5-9PM, and 5-11 PM on Saturday. Closed Sunday.
                          The chef, whom I've had the pleasure of tasting her sushi at Jewel Bako, has excellent cooking and sushi making skills. She remains calm throughout the meal.
                          The restaurant was empty when I arrived, but by the time i left all the seats were full. The atmosphere was very homey. Jazz was playing in the background. I think the counter seats 9 and 3 two-tops against the wall.
                          This is such a wonderful place to eat a relaxed home cooked japanese meal. Chef Sho made me a very happy camper. I will be back there often. It appears they have different specials, every night.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer
                            Lau RE: foodwhisperer Oct 14, 2012 07:42 AM

                            looks good

                        2. alkonost RE: silencespeak Oct 13, 2012 04:57 AM

                          Odd a name, but based on the chefs history and good reviews this is a place I'd love to try out.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: alkonost
                            Lau RE: alkonost Oct 13, 2012 05:43 AM

                            yah i actually want to try it too, but i think she's on crack for naming the restaurant that

                            1. re: Lau
                              chervil9 RE: Lau Oct 13, 2012 07:20 AM

                              Remember Greasy Boy in Midtown, years ago?

                              1. re: chervil9
                                unagi1 RE: chervil9 Oct 15, 2012 06:01 PM

                                Or Burger Heaven...neither good Burger or Heaven...

                                1. re: unagi1
                                  alkonost RE: unagi1 Oct 16, 2012 12:04 AM

                                  I never ate there, but used to pass it by all the time taking the bus home from school.

                                  1. re: alkonost
                                    LeahBaila RE: alkonost Oct 16, 2012 06:32 AM

                                    They do make a mean grilled cheese...just sayin'

                          2. squid kun RE: silencespeak Mar 14, 2013 05:37 PM

                            The NYT catches up with Bugs ... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/din...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: squid kun
                              foodwhisperer RE: squid kun Mar 15, 2013 03:37 PM

                              Thanks for posting the nytimes link. I imagine even though there were some negative comments, Bugs will now be packed. Sometimes I think the Times follows me around, and kills my chances of easy walk-in dining and forces me to find new regular spots. Anyway, the criticism on the sushi , i think was a bit harsh. Bugs' fish is fresh and the combinations of fish and accompaniments are often quite good. She has made me sushi without the toppings also. Her sushi rice (shari) needs much improvement, however. When Sho was at Jewel Bako, I loved her sushi. I believe she makes sushi at Sho, because her regulars request it. She seems to enjoy more , making her other dishes, especially the great soups she comes up with.
                              I love the place, and hope it doesn't get so packed that I can't get in.

                            2. janethepain RE: silencespeak Mar 16, 2013 06:20 PM

                              It's the worst trying to find a website for this place (bedbug reports in the East Village, anyone?). Got the $60 tasting menu about two months ago. I wanted to love this still relatively "secret" place, but overall, it was ok and I don't know if I'd bother coming back.

                              The raw fish dishes were good, especially a trio of fish tartars. But other dishes were just meh: some deep-fried chicken (if I recall correctly) that was surprisingly bland, cooked salmon with uni sauce that could have used a lot more uni flavor, a first course of edamame that wasn't too different from standard-issue edamame despite its plum salt.

                              It was Sho and one waitress-slash-assistant, who served and helped microwave some of the dishes (yes, a little off-putting but ok, sure). We all wanted to love this place, but walked out feeling it didn't match expectations, and a still hungry to boot. We ended up walking to Baohaus and trying out a bunch of bao after our multicourse Bugs meal.

                              For a real tasting menu well worth the money, try Feast - I'll be writing up a review soon.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: janethepain
                                foodwhisperer RE: janethepain Mar 21, 2013 05:51 AM

                                Amazing that you were still hungry after eating at Bugs. I always find the tasting menu has too much food, perhaps because I add the sushi course. The food is not gourmet by any standards, just good home cooked food. Sorry you were disappointed

                              2. m
                                marblebag RE: silencespeak Jul 1, 2013 11:51 AM

                                I went with my brother on Saturday, it was empty. We stuck to the cooked items.

                                Sauteed Shishito pepepr with spicy sauce. The sauce wasn't spicy but this is a good change from Edamame. I wish my local izakaya made this.

                                German Potato Salad & sunnyside fried egg w/ Japanese shallot dressing. Sliced potato with a "green salad" and bacon. I didn't find it interesting but my brother liked it.

                                Bay Scallop & Spinach salad w/ black sesame dressing. I really liked this with the black sesame flavor. My brother didn't like it :)

                                Spicy Pork Spare Rib. Good enough, I would order this again.

                                Japanese Risotto w/ torched uni, botan shrimp & scallop. The risotto had almost no flavor so this was a miss for both of us.

                                Garlice Rice w/ tender braised beef. The beef had a sweet flavor and the rice very good with some crunchy bits at the bottom.

                                We brought home half the garlic rice and most of the spare rib dishes.

                                I had a grapefruit paletas later on the High Line.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: marblebag
                                  foodwhisperer RE: marblebag Jul 2, 2013 02:40 AM

                                  Thanks for the review. I have not been to Bugs for a few months. On the positive, it seems she varies her menu greatly, trying new things. I guess there's some hits and misses. She did keep the potato salad on the menu. I like her potato salad.
                                  I'll have to go back and try the spare rib.

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