Dear Food Diary:
New Yorkers (specially us bloggers) put up with a lot when it comes to dining out. Impossible to get reservations, logging online at specific times for a spot, waiting outside in the freezing cold, you say it, we’ve done it. But UO went beyond, couple hrs before our reservation on a Saturday night, they apologize for “no fish” over the phone and canceled on us! Say what?… Any sane person would cross this place off their list and moved on, but oh no! not us! We are bloggers darn it! and there’s nothing more alluring than a yelp newby. I mean, we live for this stuff and there’s no pride when it comes to satisfying our palate and curiosity. Our 2nd reservation was 4 days later.
Underground dining and I entered this easily missed 1st floor, black leather, candle lit room with 4 days worth of expectations and excitement, but one look at the sushi counter and surroundings, no Japanese chef or staff was to be found. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate fusion, but when it comes to sushi, I like it simple, pure and fresh, holding strongly to my motto – there has to be at least 1 Japanese chef. That said, I still gave it a shot and manage to keep my excitement, mainly because David Bouhadana worked under Morimoto (my favorite iron chef).
We started off with complimentary edamame and this thick starchy veggy soup with tofu cubes, it was a bit strange, not the best way to start a meal, though that piece of crispy paper thin kimchi was interesting.
The place was small, service was friendly, but food took a looong time, so another complimentary appetizer was brought over. Octopus Confit, with sauteed chicory, celery root and pomelo slices. The crunch from the root was a nice contrast to the meaty octopus and I like the freshness the citrus brought, but it was a bit too sour and bitter for me.
On the left is the Chef’s Choice Sashimi Plate, sampling of 3 sashimi, nothing exciting.
On the right we have their most creative set, the Uo Nigiri Plate (to be eaten sans soy sauce). My taste buds couldn’t contain themselves, but in the end very very disappointed. Worst offender top right, salmon with black sesame goma sauce, think of any dessert with black sesame paste and imagine having that with salmon sashimi. It wasn’t sweet, but the texture and aroma of sesame was present, to me it just didn’t make any sense. Below it, flounder with micro shiso was ok, fish and shiso goes well and this was no exception. Followed by the red snapper with arugula pesto, ok pairing but didn’t blow my mind. Top center we have the suzuki with sunomono (vinegar) gelee, sure gelees are fun and playful, but that gelee better have a reason to be there and this one seemed lost. The second worst was the marinated chopped saba, super fishy and not in a good way, I’m not a big fan of raw skin and this reminded me why. Last, the wasabi crusted tuna with creamy mustard sauce, tasted familiar, a good match, but again, no wow moment here.
These a la carte Today’s Sushi/Sashimi was the way to go. Some items are marked “LIVE” on the menu, so you know it’s gotta be super fresh, nothing is moving or anything, don’t worry. It held just the right amount of rice and I enjoyed every bite. From left to right: Fluke is very delicate. Live scallop is oh so sweet and tender. Live octopus has a subtle sweetness and a nice bite to it. Live orange clam also very sweet with a slight crunch that I love. Live abalone was my least favorite, I didn’t like it when I had it in Tokyo, but I thought I’d give it another try. It’s way to much crunchiness in one bite, similar to eating cartilage, but more oceanic. Uni is always good when it’s this fresh, melt in your mouth creamy sweetness, yummmm.
All in all, it was an ok meal. If we forget the first part, take away all the overly modern creative, unnecessary stuff and just focused on the pure and simple, it was actually pretty good. Everything was out of the water level fresh and the a la carte LIVE prices were fair. And I tasted something different about their soy sauce, had a certain sweetness to it, less salty.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
151 Rivington St 1FL