Toku Sushi

2014 Northern Blvd. Manhasset, NY 11030 • (516) 627-7121 • tokumodernasian.com

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While not quite at the level of Makoto in Bal Harbor, Miami, Toku is very much cut from the same cloth. Great high-end sushi in a great high-end mall. And while mall sushi might sound like a very low bar to surmount, I can assure you this is not the Panda Express of Japanese cuisine. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find better sushi on Long Island. But it’s not just the sushi that makes the meal, they do so many other things well from tacos (pictured) to sliders to- we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s cover the basics first.

The service is always friendly and the décor is contemporary, with an expansive dining room, so fret not if you are a walk-in because there is seldom a wait, and even if there is, at least you have good window shopping nearby to keep you busy.

So once you’re done perusing Prada and are seated at your table, it’s your mouth that will take the baton, doing a little shopping of its own, because everything looks and tastes so very good. The sushi and sashimi are always melt-in-your-mouth fresh, and as I hinted above, even the non-sushi items are quite toothsome, like my personal fav, the assorted sliders. Also, be sure to finish off with my favorite Japanese dessert, the red bean mochi (ice cream dumplings wrapped in a thin layer of gelatin). You will love it almost as much as the new Gucci bag you just scored.

4 teeth

 

Blue Ribbon Sushi

The Cosmopolitan Hotel • 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S. Las Vegas, NV 89109 • (702) 698-7000 · blueribbonrestaurants.com
 
Blue Ribbon Izakaya

The fact that it’s located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel is definitely a plus. It’s the most tastefully done Casino in Vegas. Granted the competition isn’t exactly what one would call steep, but it does make your journey both to and from the restaurant much more seamless by comparison to something like Aureole, where you are in a beautiful setting inside the restaurant, but then the moment you set foot outside, you feel like you just stepped into the middle of a pissing match between Walt Disney and Donald Trump.

So, now that I’ve drifted way off topic and evoked a bodily fluid, I’m sure most of you are no longer reading this. But for those who still are, Blue Ribbon is awesome! Better than the one in New York on a number of metrics. The first being décor. I know, shocking that Vegas could outdo anywhere on aesthetics, much less New York, but it outdone it was.

And the outdoing kept doing from start to finish. The first thing being the open-faced Wagyu sliders. Perfectly cooked and a great way to offset your Vegas drinking bender. Another solid starter was the duck potsicker app. Also nice and substantive compared to the sushi side of the equation.

And last but not least, the grilled octopus started, which was also good, but definitely the weakest of the three.

Then came the main event. The Blue Ribbon as they called it. No, not the Blue Ribbon maki, which is lobster and caviar, the Blue Ribbon chef’s tasting- aka plank of awesome. Apparently inventive naming things isn’t their strong suit, but let me tell you, most of what was on that platter was. Covered with inventive maki, artfully brined sushi pieces and blissfully fresh (yes, in a dessert) sashimi.

Even the service was better than the Blue Ribbon Sushi in New York, which got me thinking, maybe they should move the Vegas one to New York and the New York one to Vegas. Thoughts?

4 teeth

 

Brushstroke

30 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013(212) 791-3771 • davidbouley.com/brushstroke-main

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Once upon a time David Bouley was at the pinnacle of the culinary game. I ate at his flagship back in 1995 and it was as if I had never truly understood the purpose of having a mouth until that day.

Well, since then I have eaten at Danube (RIP) and now Brushstroke and while both restaurants were/are definitely good, neither are even close to what Bouley once was.

Located on the gravesite of Danube, a striking Klimt museum with food, this new swipe at glory comes from the Far East, backed by Japan’s finest culinary school, boasting more Michelin stars than the next ten schools combine. But unfortunately none of that really matters. Because at the end of the day, all one ever cares about is whether or not it gives you a foodgasm.

Well, ecstasy was regrettably not in the cards, although many a dish in our tasting menu was indeed tasty. My favorite was the soup with foie gras. The smoked duck with sweet potato was a close second and the pork belly with peach and walnuts a close third. The custard and lobster soup was also pretty great, but the custard got to be a little much after the lobster ran out. The sashimi would be next for me with the best of it being the sweet shrimp. And then I’d go with the langoustines served with heirloom tomatoes or the skate and rice soup. Granted the latter was a bit too salty to be fair.

After that it was pretty average, mixed with a few flat-out misses for such a price point. The biggest misses being the rock fish entrée, which was so bland they tried to zazz it up with shrimp and mussels and even those couldn’t save it. The other fish option, the drum fish, had its zazz built in and was much, much better.

But the biggest misses of the night were the desserts. We had three and of the lot we didn’t finish a single one. The best was the soy ice cream with pecan, but that’s not saying much, because both green tea desserts weren’t even worthy of star-shaped sticker from one of my daughter’s sticker books, much less one from Michelin.

Service was good, but not flawless. A couple of mistakes here and there, like trying to clear a dish before it was finished. And décor, while nice, simply can’t compare to Danube.

And now for my biggest issue of the meal, the tasting menu itself. It is littered with additions to various courses, but for a hefty fee, and by “hefty” I mean roughly the cost of an entire meal at most other restaurants ($45-75 depending on the addition). So, you wind up feeling like a cheapskate for not adding them, when you are already throwing down some serious coin as is. And of course those dishes are the best sounding options on the menu. But if you opted in for each of them, you would more than double the cost of your dinner. So, make up your mind Brushstoke, either up the cost of your tasting menu and make it better, create a separate more expensive tasting menu that has these options already on it, or lose them altogether.

Back on the plus side, the cucumber and roasted almond gin cocktail is incredible. Refreshing, with a nice twist of dusted almonds on the rim. And the gin they use was so smooth I think it lifted a twenty out of my wallet without me even noticing. No wonder it’s been on the top ten list of Manhattan cocktails three years running. If only everything that followed was at the same level, then we’d be talking five knives instead of three.

3 teeth