There’s nothing quite like a dependable sushi joint just around the corner from you. While it doesn’t quite offer the plethora of deliciousness that East Village boasts, my neighborhood aka Hell’s Kitchen does have a few solid go-to’s like Sushi of Gari, Nippori, Sushi Seki, Blue Ribbon, etc. Shimizu is another such restaurant, where I’d been for a few meals before but never the omakase. Until this past Friday that is, when a friend from out of town and a search for a lower cost omakase option brought us here for the evening.
Priced at $55, the omakase at the Shimizu sushi bar included 10 pieces of sushi, a starter, and 6 pieces of maki (3 different types) – so, a total steal in any book. While the quality of the fish was excellent, however, I didn’t exactly love the meal for a couple reasons:
- Anyone who’s an omakase regular knows that sushi pieces typically come dressed – i.e. a perfect mixture of soy sauce and wasabi, a light ponzu, zesty marinade, etc. – based on optimal tastes as determined by the chef. However, at Shimizu, approximately 7 out of the 10 sushi pieces were literally just the fish on top of rice and we were expected to add the soy sauce/wasabi ourselves. Totally normal in any other regular sushi meal but as part of an omakase I was a bit thrown off by the lack of innovation and flavor profiles.
- Most of the pieces also came with a lot of rice…like, too much rice. And since so many pieces weren’t dressed when served, this resulted in several bites that were a little too dry and rather overwhelming to chew.
Not to write off the entire dinner, of course, since a couple pieces were truly delicious. Surprisingly, my favorite bite wasn’t the uni but the fluke fin, which was one of the few dressed pieces and incredibly savory. With a firm glossy texture, light tangy soy marinade, and refreshingly minty shiso leaf finish, it was definitely the tastiest course of the evening.
Snapshots of the other courses from the evening:
Shimizu – Pros:
- The service was really great and why I’m giving them 3 stars instead of 2. The sushi chefs were professional and friendly and the wait staff could not have been nicer. Really pleasant atmosphere and vibe.
- Omakase aside, the serving sizes at Shimizu are huge. I couldn’t stop staring while our chef put together plate after plate of sushi for other patrons that included some of the biggest and freshest pieces of fish I’ve ever seen. It was when he was carefully slicing glorious slab after glorious slab of the otoro that I secretly wished I could “return” my omakase and order a regular plate of sashimi a la carte instead.
- Had the quality been better, the price point really would have been great. Again, $55 option for 10 pieces, a few rolls, and a starter dish. Not bad.
Shimizu – Cons:
- Ultimately, however, I wouldn’t recommend Shimizu because of the issues mentioned above. Too much rice resulting in overwhelming bite sizes and undressed courses lacking in flavor led to a very subpar omakase overall. (That said, I’m planning to give it one more chance as I’m very curious to order off the regular a la carte sashimi menu.)
Rating [out of 5]: ★★★
Address: 318 W 51st St, New York, NY