Jewel Bako

How come Luxirare has never mentioned Sushi…ever? Is she crazy? Well here it is, 2 weeks ago I had one of the most spectac sushi meals in the history of dining at nearly every crap quality/ high quality sushi joint in Ny. This place has been around for 8 years but it is so low key that it could never level up to holy sushi meccas like Masa. I don’t care much for appetizers like “rock shrimp” with spicy mayo goop, a signature dish at your oh so average hyped up Japanese fusion restaurant. The longer the list of apps at a Sushi joint, the more suspicious one should be. I want to taste the freshest fish, and the most delicate rice morsels. Little pearls barely clinging together, not one sticky starchy lump of a mess.

My #1 rule for all sushi dining experiences- sit facing the chefs, at the bar, tell’em you mean business.

My first conversation with the sushi chef involves no words. A week before my dinner here I called to pre-reserve a live lobster sashimi. He brought out the live lobster, asians do this alot–They like to prove something. I look at it and nod.

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While the lobster is getting ready, I start my libation with a glass of rose ‘pagne- I know this isn’t gonna end well. Alcohol is the devil’s lubricant.

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The lobster comes out, barely dead its eyes still glazing around. No mercy here. The tail meat is sliced and yes it tastes fantastic. I noticed the chef kept brushing lime zest, and now it landed on my lobster. People always say they want fresh- yet when they are offered to eat something still alive they move aside…why? You say I’m out of line , forgive me. I watch too much Bourdain and Zimmern.

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My first piece of sashimi arrives quickly from the bar. Like the name of this restaurant, this piece of fish garnished with an apple vinegar sauce looks like a JEWEL. Even a gold leaf was placed to crown its glory. Sweet, tangy, salty, buttery, barely-on-land freshness. Yellowtail piece sits under a soy/Yuzu mixture. “Bananaz” as Rachel Zoe says of vintage Pooch. I am starting to act like a Pap shooting all these pictures- as if Lindsay Lohan is blowing lines in front of me, and of course my embarassment increases in volume when the flash sound keeps going off. I would make a good living in Hollywood…

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I look at the sushi menu again-After testing the first piece, I know this chef doesn’t fuck around. Not only is there Maguro (Tuna) Chutoro (super fatty tuna), and Toro (fatty tuna ), but a blow torched Toro. What? Yes he whips out his blow torch and fires up the top layer of my sushi. Smoky, Unctuous…. Slightly warmed and cooked on top, I could barely open my mouth and say ONE MORE please – forget about the 15$ per piece tag; I’m tipsy off ‘pagne and ravenous. My tongue is soaked with glistening fat.

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Notice the score marks on the sushi, this is how you gauge what style of sushi the chef serves. When you score the fish and brush it with soy, the soy soaks into the sushi effectively. Every serious sushi chef is an artist. Even in sushi making, there are the forever 21′s, the Karl Lagerfelds, and then the ultimates like Margiela or Kawakubo. They all have different styles and ideas they want to communicate.

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The scoring, and brushing… Their message is this; you eat it the way I prepare it. No customized soy dumping. This reminds me of Japan street sushi…I’m loving every second of it. This doesn’t necessarily mean its better, just different styles.

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The test of a decent sushi joint is whether or not that freshly grate the Wasabi for you.. I need fresh wasabe for some Wasabe Ice cream.

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Always running dry, the story of my life. I start letting go.

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Ikura, Salmon Eggs. Ladies, be parsimonious about who you lay down with- sperm is cheap; eggs are expensive.

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Meet Chef Yoshi (Japanese descent) and his roll assistant (Mexican descent). Their sushi making skills are on equal footing. Making delicious sushi is not only an art, but a way to expand pleasure for others. Learning how to expand pleasure in food is something that gets me up in the morning, and Chef Yoshi has passed this skill onto his assistant chef. I feel slightly envious, but my respect for him overcomes this emotion.

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I watched the mexican assistant architect one of the most spectac Salmon Skin rolls ever. It is 100% true when Anthony Bourdain says that the best chefs in the world are always the “third-world line cooks” (excuse his un PC-ness)-Many times their talents exceed their teachers. I was fascinated that someone from a cheese and meat eating culture knew how to roll properly. His hands were deceptive. I wonder what he thinks of this raw fish cuisine, if he has any opinions. What if he thinks this is totally creepy and weird? What if he runs home at 2 am in the morning after work is over and gorges on beans and rice the same way I gorge on kim-chi?? I wonder, does this man eat sushi? He is damn good at making it. I am digressing….back to the subject.

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Earlier I had ordered a raw shrimp sashimi. I asked the chef to fry the head. In Japan this is a snack in beer houses.

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Onto the rice, the most important component. This picture reveals how perfect the rice was. The chef handles the rice so that it does not taste like one sticky clump. The art of perfect rice is having it stick together so that it doesn’t crumble on your chopsticks, but breaks apart on first chew. Hard to do, but thats the essence of Japanese food. This tells me the chef’s hands are drenched with a lightness that requires rigorous practice-This man has the cutting techniques of Elbaz @ Lanvin.. Of course when I throw lushed up compliments at him he acts shy and embarrased, as most Japanese people do; He says nothing, nods his head and turns red, even though I know his meek exterior is all display when I watch his knife tactics.

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I don’t forget to order eel. One of my favorite pieces. This again, another precious jewel. This eel looks different from all the other eels I’ve had. I ask the chef what the technique is. I never tasted an eel so delicate. He says he placed a bamboo leaf on top, and then warmed the eel through with the torch. The indirect heat allows the eel to remain extremely tender. I was blown away at this point and wanted to bang my head on the bar as to why I had not known about this place.

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Remember that lobster head? Yes, it landed in my soup, permeating it with the light oceanic smell. Meat is good, but the real flavor is usually in the head. I need some miso to slightly warm the raw fish sitting in my stomach.

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Finally, to finish off and cleanse my palette, a jewel of an oyster comes out decked with caviar pearls and scallions diced up thin as paper. The colors are wildly beautiful. After finishing 4 glasses of ‘pagne I’m done for the night. I know that around 3-4 am a mean hangover will wake me up, with a post headache vibe for the rest of the day. I either drink nothing or go all the way. I never understood those who could stop with one glass.

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My final review is this; I have no idea why this place is so underrated. I left feeling 1. drunk and 2. inferior about my shleppy sushi making skills. It motivates me. Reservations are a must on friday nights, otherwise I think it is pretty easy to get seated.