NYC Sushi: Yuba (Oct. 2012)
Authors: Victor and Monty
Chefs: George Ruan and Jack Wei
Date: October 13, 2012
Monte: We came here and asked for the omakase nigiri experience. Unfortunately, while the fish was oftentimes fresh and flavorful, the texture of the right was quite stiff and stale. Every bite started with a soft cut into the flesh of the seafood, followed by hard rice that just stuck to my teeth. It’s extremely difficult to achieve that perfect fluffy pillowy quenelle of rice, but certainly the rice should not be hard. I think it might’ve just been an off-day, because the reputation of the place is supposed to be very good – but who knows?
1. Toro with quail egg, seaweed, and yam
Monte: The chef grated a vegetable, we think it’s yam, such that only the thick yogurt-like pulp was mixed into the bowl. The texture of the toro was nice and the root pulp was fun to eat, almost like what I imagine raw egg whites must taste like.
2. Kumamoto oyster with caviar
Victor: The caviar definitely added some flavor, but I think they took the middle route where you should either omit the caviar completely OR add a lot more.
Suggestion: Have a plain oyster and then a second one with lots of caviar!
3. Red snapper (tai)
Monte: I thought these first few pieces of nigiri were only ok – the piece wasn’t thick and fleshy, and so I think it was a lot harder to taste the fish.
4. Salmon belly
5. Mackerel (saba) with shiso
6. New Zealand sea bream / snapper (madai)
7. Greater amberjack (kanpachi)
Monte: For me, this is where the meal started picking up. The rice was still egregiously hard, but the the kanpachi had a very lean tight texture with a subtle sweetness familiar to fans of hamachi.
8. Striped jack (shima aji)
Monte: The shima aji was also quite lean, meaty, and had a slight pull in the meat as one chewed. The kanpachi and this shima aji were my favorite of the night.
9. King salmon
10. Horse mackerel (aji)
11. Yellowtail belly
12. Gizzard shad (kohada)…? (Forgot)
13. Seared mackerel (saba)
14. Seared scallop (hotate)
Monte: The scallop was very creamy, it was almost bizarre. Normally scallops I eat are meaty – with a tear to them as the individual fibers are bitten into. This scallop had a texture more akin to baba ghanoush. Weird, but tasty!
15, part 1. Head of shrimp (ebi)
15, part 2. Shrimp (ebi) with caviar
16. Toro with sturgeon caviar
Monte: Unlike the ebi with caviar, which I thought was a great combination of sweet and salty, this piece seemed to just pointlessly add caviar to toro as a part of luxury-on-luxury play that failed to enhance the flavors of either ingredient. The caviar was too little to really make a big flavor splash, and I’m really not a big fan of toro chopped up either (why take out the prized texture by giving me what is like pre-chewed food?).
17. Sea urchin (uni)
18. Saltwater eel (anago)
Monte: Holy mackerel (ha) this piece of anago was humongous. The piece was about as long as the length between my wrist and my extended middle finger, such that it had to be folded in half. And it STILL dwarfed the rice underneath. What a monstrous way to end the meal. Again, while I wish the rice had been better, the seafood quality was pretty solid. Oh, and the chefs behind the counter are quite friendly, if a little soft-spoken.