Sushi Nakazawa - good sushi, good laugh with good sake
Finally made my way here last Sunday night, by myself. Yes, I rejected invitation to here on a date because I wanted to fully focus on the food (and that's why I usually go solo while trying new restaurant). Even though it costed me a quarter pair of Louboutin. It is worth it.
I am not going to give you a detail list of the sushi I had last night - many previous reviewers have done that. And you will find it in my pictures. But I want to point out something unique about my experiences at Nakazawa that differentiates itself from other established "sushi shrines" in the city - the people working here. From the chef to sommelier to wait staff, every one made me feel like I was dinning at a friend's kitchen. We joked, laughed and talked about food and sake. I have been to many other more established (read "older") sushi restaurants in the city, including Yasuda and 15 East, and always sat at sushi bar instead of table, Nakazawa is by far the only place makes me feel casual and relaxed. I think one close comparison I would choose is the 9 seats Ichimura, similarly intimate. But I would say meeting Ichimura san is like meeting Steve Jobs, while meeting Nakazawa san is like meeting Mark Zuckerberg. You got my point (sorry if you don't get it; I work in IT). Being said that, Mark does not have the sense of humor like Nakazawa san: right before my 10th sushi - abi, Nakazawa san placed a live shrimp in front of my plate and said, "his name is Johnny and he will be in your mouth next!". Ha!
Yes, food. Fish were mostly domestically sourced except for the Hokkaido pike, plain fresh but no surprise, nothing "wow". That is one of the minor disappointment I had. I asked about uni and Nakazawa san said, he liked the one from Cali, for freshness. And he added, "if the dinner is $600, you will have all your fish from Japan! This is business!" Ok, fine. But I did get two or three Japanese sourced ingredients while I had omakase at Azabu for $150 :/ However, one thing I think Nakazawa san did very well is the rice/fish portion. It is perfect. Rice was slightly looser than I would prefer but that is just my personal preference. If you ask, I like the rice at Ichimura.
Another thing that is unique here is the sake selection and the knowledgeable sommelier. Last night, one of the owners, Maurizio, who is the sommelier that introduced every pour I had. He was knowledgeable and super friendly. He was patient enough to explain the taste and texture of the sake he poured me, be it jumai or daiginjo;; answered many of my may-be-stupid questions about sake. He even went on recommending a "sake cook-book" to speed up my learning :)
At the end of the night, I had a chance to chat up with another owner, Alex, together with Maurizio. Both are brilliant businessmen with a great sense of humor.
In conclusion, this is the not the top on my list, yet. Ichimura stands strong. But whenever i want to have solid quality of sushi, a good laugh and good sake, I will be back here.
Foodporn here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rsurbq36qg...
Thanks for a nice honest report. I must say I am a bit turned off by the chef's comment about not sourcing Japanese uni or Japanese fish. It's a silly comment, but maybe he was exaggerating. As far as rice goes, I don't like loose rice, Sasabune has the loosest rice ( it falls apart) because it's too hot. IMO 15 East has the best rice. He makes sure it is perfect. Ichimura, does not make his own rice, the kitchen at Brushstroke does it. It's good rice though. Ichimura being compared to Steve Jobs, hmmm well, Ichimura is more alive than that. Anyway, I get your comparison. Btw 15 East re-did the sushi bar , you can see the fish now thru the glass.
Ichimura's 9 seat ( at times 8 seat) is like a shrine. It is quite a peaceful atmosphere, and Ichimura-san speaks softly. See attached photo of Ichimura sushi bar.
Yeah, I think Nakazawa san was half joking. He did have a solid point: fish are fresher if sourced from the US than from Japan because the transportation time is shorter.
Ichimura is my favorite JP restaurant in the city. I admire his techniques and pursuit of perfection as I would for Steve. I had the aged abalone at Ichimura last month. It was out of this world.
Photos of dinner at Ichimura. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/paatlk5gqb...