I’ve been on an omakase tear lately, but there aren’t too many restaurants that wow me to the point where I constantly try to find every excuse in the book to go back. So, I’m happy to report after a recent visit that Jewel Bako turned out to be one of those places.
One of my favorite sushi companions in the city is my former coworker SJU, who suggested we rendezvous at Jewel Bako because they had a limited time only $120 live spiny lobster special that she was dying to try. Curious about their 18-course sushi omakase myself (also $120), I was totally into the idea…and, so, we ended up at the 8-seat bar in front of the fantastically charming and endlessly amusing Chef Ishikawa on a random weekday night.
Where to begin? First of all, the service – from the gem that is Chef Ishikawa to our waiter who was extremely engaging and dapper – was all-around superb. We were completely smitten the entire evening. And of course, the sushi. From three (yes, three!) separate uni courses to smooth-as-butter fatty tuna to the texture thrill that is geoduck, we were impressed with the quality and taste from beginning to end.
Each course really was a highlight in and of itself:
These next pictures are completely out of sequence but sort of in order starting with my favorite bites first – though, end of the day, each one was very satisfying.
So those courses aside, I forgot to take pictures of the marinated cured fluke with shiso, horse mackerel, and Japanese mackerel. All great, but, oops.
Jewel Bako – Pros:
It was a weeknight and SJU had a drink date after dinner so we ended up at the first dinner seating aka 6pm, but thankfully and unlike many other sushi restaurants looking for a quick turnover, never once did we feel rushed. Our meal ended up lasting about 2.5 hours, relaxed and seriously superb the entire way through.
As mentioned above, the service was absolutely A+. We can’t say enough lovely things about Chef Ishikawa and we just really, really enjoyed and appreciated the service and warm, hospitable atmosphere overall.
Quality! Each bite was high grade and certain combinations were just really enjoyable – i.e. the fatty tuna with Maine uni and first uni starter dish. Innovation aside, each individual piece was meticulously sliced and dressed, making for one highly memorable meal.
Jewel Bako – Cons:
Um…none. The one thing I’ll say here is that my previous impression of Jewel Bako was that it’s a trendy Easy Village dinner hangout for those stuck in the early 2000s vs. a truly respectable modern day sushi mecca. This visit changed that original, inaccurate perception. If you go, make doubly sure you sit at the sushi bar.
Rating [out of 5]: ★★★★★
Address:239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003