The traditional Japanese sushi experience: quiet, peaceful, enlightening, introspective…boring some might say? It’s not for everyone, but the atmosphere at Sushi Dojo, in New York’s’ Lower East Side, is anything but quiet and restrained. A constant beat of custom 80’s and 90’s hip hop mash ups, including some soul and funk await, and the sushi master is chatting up guests and taking shots…did I mention he’s a 29 yr old white kid from Florida? While Chef David Bouhadana is certainly mixing things up and creating a fun experience, the sushi is serious, and his skills are on point. He might not look the part, but he’s been in the game for over a decade and has trained with some of the best in both the U.S. and Japan. Sushi Dojo has some of the best values in town when it comes to high end tasting menus, including the Chef’s Omakase which includes 20+ pieces of sashimi and nigiri, along with a few hot dishes from the kitchen…it’s $90!!! You can’t even sniff a cocktail and an appetizer at Masa for that.
The sashimi platter above was alone worth $30 and the live sea urchin, my first, was amoung the most interesting and surprising bites of the evening. I was expecting it to taste like really good uni, and it did, but the floral notes were truly amazing and something I still think about.
Up next was a cavalcade of familiar and unique nigiri including baby white shrimp, toro, otoro, more uni, artic char, mackerel, and even baby squid.
A few of my favorite bites were this fan of mackerel and the trio of baby squid, which I had never had before.
Besides the great music, service and food, the rice was the best I have had in New York; perfect temp and amount of vinegar. The precision of the chef and how he moved the ginger back and forth to either side of the banana leaf was also interesting, almost as if he was cleansing the serving surface as one would a palate.
The hot dishes were just as tasty as the sushi and included an upscale miso soup w/ crab and fish cakes, as well as this delicate grilled cod.
The last hot dish was the ubiquitous fried shrimp head, which I could literally eat a plate of!
I was expecting a great meal from Sushi Dojo, and they definitely delivered. What I wasn’t expecting was the experience and the atmosphere, which not only added to the meal, but made it stand out as one of the most fun and enjoyable dining experiences I have had in a long time. That being said, if you’re looking for a low key, quiet meal this is not your spot. It’s a little off the beaten path for most tourists, but it’s worth the trek and you will remember the experience.