Cosme

I started taking pictures for this food blog idea years ago and the first restaurant I did it at was Pujol, in Mexico City.

The same famed Pujol chef Enrique Olvera then opened Cosme in New York and so I had to try it and in doing so I feel like I have almost come full circle, in a way 😉

Cosme is a much more lively, sceney place than Pujol (which is classier, quieter, more dimly lit, more elegant and with an older crowd, at least the night I visited). It’s in the Flatiron District and you can sit at the tables in the back, at the bar in the front or in the lounge chairs of the entrance/foyer area, the menu is the same, the attitude and surrounding company changes a lot.

We tried mostly seafood appetizers. The scallops were good but the radish, but the giant jicama (yam bean root) shavings it came with were a bit overwhelming, especially visually, as they covered everything. The Uni tostada with bone marrow salsa was really good and, most notably, the Fluke with ants and sesame were the absolute winner!

The octopus memela with black beans, salsa verde and queso fresco was great as a dish but would have not been as remarkable without the bed or flavors around the tentacles.

Considering this should be THE Mexican spot in NY I expected a lot more from the herb guacamole, which was underwhelming and a bit bland.

The corn tempura softshell crab with shishito mole and tomatoes was probably the best entrée (and by that I mean main course… another misappropriated and misused word of the new English language).

Sugarfish

Sushi master chef Kazunori Nozawa was also known as “the Sushi Nazi” because allegedly he used to throw people out of the restaurant if they asked for dipping sauces or tempura or for a “California rolls” (apparently even famous people like Charlize Theron got thrown out).

After having run a restaurant in Tokyo with his mother he opened his first restaurant in Los Angeles in the mid/late eighties and  Sushi Nozawa quickly became a world renown restaurant. In 2012, after 25 years, he retired from making sushi and opened Sugarfish, for which he and his sons still select the freshest fish every morning.

Sugarfish has become a hit and has 10 locations in Los Angeles and one in New York. The first ever location is now closed so I visited the second location, which is now the oldest one and is located in Marina Del Ray, near Venice Beach.

When I tried to visit the New York location in the first month it had opened there was a 3 hour wait, so I ate somewhere else. But in LA it’s much easier to get a table or a seat at the bar (although it’s not really a sushi bar, as the kitchen is off to the side). Expect a wait of at least 20 min (we waited 30 min on a Monday night at 9.30, which is a very off time…).

The food is amazing and surprisingly affordable. The omakase (or “Trust Me” as it’s called) is only $35 and there is a light version for $25 and a version with two extra specials for $45.

The fish is super fresh and the preparation is truly great. For example the salmon, and the eel were some of the best salmon and eel I’ve had and the large scallop had a tangy bite to it which was a bit of yuzu ponzu on it. Even the sushi rice was tastier than most: it is warm-ish and harder, almost “al dente”, I’d say, and with the right amount of vinegar. The only bad thing about the rice (and about the whole experience) is the consistency of the rice. The taste is great but you can’t pick up a piece of sushi with your chop sticks without dropping some rice on your plate. It’s impossible. Maybe I should have tried the old school japanese way (by hand)… And forget about picking it up and flicking it over to dip the fish in the soy sauce (which is the way you use soy sauce on sushi, fish side down!). It’s impossible! That was a drag but the taste of the fish made up for it. 

For a place with 10 locations I was amazed at the quality.

Mr Taka Ramen

I’m always a seeker of good pizza, good espresso and good ramen, although I am not nearly as experienced or picky about the latter as I am about the former two.

Opened a little over a year ago by a Japanese owner, Mr Taka (admittedly not a great name) is the NY outpost of a Tokyo establishment of the same owner(s) which bears a different name, thankfully. The NY location is sunny, bright, open and feels pretty spacious even though it only has 4-6 tables and two counters (whole restaurant probably seats 25-30 people max). 

Ever since discovering Mr Taka, in NYC’s Lower EastSide, I’ve been taking all my japanese friends and clients there to see and hear their reactions and everyone seems to love it, which makes me feel good about my approval and love for this place.
Today I took a Tokyo rock band of 6 native japanese musicians here, so it was a great opportunity to take pictures of a few different bowls as well as hear their opinions, which were all very positive (although one of them said “special”, which sounds a bit like a lost-in-translation translation of when Americans say “interesting”… hmm).

Sushi Inoue

I started hearing about Inoue from my japanese friends in New York. Everyone was raving about it and nobody could explain why it was in Harlem! Since I love sushi and I live in Harlem took my partner there for her birthday.

This place is incredible! Pure culinary art!

Omakase is clearly the way to go. Let the chef decide everything and just enjoy!

Like most high end sushi places, it’s more expensive at the bar than at the table, but it is worth it for the added spectacle of seeing the preparation of your food happen in front of your eyes.

July 2017 UPDATE:
I haven’t been to this place for over a year and since Inuoue got a Michelin star. This means that unfortunately the price has gone up to $250/person for Omakase at the bar. You can however still have your sushi experience at the table for $90/person which, considering it’s the same fish and same quality, is definitely worth it. I’ve updated this post to $$$$/$$$$$!