28 September 2011

blue ribbon sushi bar & grill

The newest from the Blue Ribbon brothers, this midtown offshoot - located right around the corner from Columbus Circle - may be even better than its downtown predecessors. The space is huge (it seats over 100) and windowless, paneled in wood and flushed in a soft, orange glow. The result is surprisingly cozy: it almost feels as though you're sitting inside a sauna, although in this case it's a sauna filled not with dry heat but with some of the freshest, most innovative japanese food in the city.

The menu is extensive, with a large selection of sushi and sashimi, grilled and roasted fish, meat and poultry, tempura-battered vegetables and a long list of exotic and delicious-sounding hot and cold appetizers. The kaiso moraiwase - a large bowlful of beautiful, mixed seaweeds drizzled with sumiso sauce - is one of the best seaweed salads I've ever had, and the hamachi tataki - an unbelievably fresh yellowtail tartare topped with a creamy quail egg and bathed in a sweet soy sauce - is out of this world. I also tried the bonsai tree - crab, avocado, masago and kaiware (seeds from the daikon radish) wrapped in cucumber - which was light, fresh, and packed with flavor - and the wild mushroom roast - a heaping serving of four kinds of mushrooms, lightly tossed in olive oil and roasted to perfection. We sat by the entrance to the kitchen, and nearly everything we saw coming out (platters piled high with fresh sushi, steaming platters of lobster and steak, beautifully assembled maki) looked like artwork.

Blue Ribbon isn't cheap, but it beats the prices at the nearby Nobu and the food tastes even better. For dinner, they'll only take reservations for parties of 5 or more, but the wait is well worth it.

308 W 58th St (b/w 8th and 9th)

  kaiso moraiwase (mixed seaweed)
  bonsai tree
  hamachi tataki
  wild mushroom roast

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