I've eaten at some (Kurumazushi, Sushisay, Hatsuhana, Nobu, Sushi Sasabune), not all (I haven't eaten at Masa, Sushi Yasuda, or Jewel Bako) of New York's best Japanese restaurants/sushi bars, so I can't definitively say that Soto is the best Japanese restaurant in New York. I can say that my meal at Soto last week was splendid and unique and more pleasurable than any other Japanese restaurant experience I've had here, or anywhere else for that matter.
I requested an omakase, and chef-owner Sotohiro Kosugi obliged with a dazzling array of impeccably fresh Japanese and local fish prepared with as much skill and originality as one could hope for.
Here's what we had:
Dobin Mushi Soup: Clear dashi both with shrimp, sea bream, mitsuba, ginko nuts, yuzu. Served in small dobin pot.
Uni and Yuba: Japanese black bean milk skin with sea urchin, shiitake broth.
Shiro Ebi Tar Tare: Seasonal white sweet shrimp with yuzu, shaved cured mullet roe, caviar, shiitake ginger broth
Shima Aji Carpaccio: Thinly sliced Japanese stripe jack with ginger soy sauce
Chyu Toto Tar Tare: Chopped fatty tuna with avocado coulis, garnished with caviar, chive, served in sesame ponzu sauce
Hokki Nuta: Thinly sliced surf clam with myoga ginger shoots, marinated in sweet miso mustard sauce. I don't usually care for surf clam, but this preparation made be moan with pleasure.
Fluke Usuzukuri: Half live and half one day aged Long Island fluke usuzukuri, sea salt and lime, yuzu zest. A fascinating and delicious foray into local fish that made me wish my co-author and Esca chef David Pasternack was eating with me.
Minute Steamed Tai: Quick steamed New Zealand sea bream with ginger scallion oil. This dish tasted Chinese.
Steamed Lobster with Uni Mousse: Layers of steamed maine lobster and uni mousse in lotus wrap, garnished with smoked uni and caviar. This tasted like uni confit, like a bite of the sea.
Shiitake Shinjyo: Deep-fried shrimp cake capped with shiitake mushroom
Soto isn't cheap, no good Japanese restaurant/sushi bar is, but at $300 for two people including tax and tip it is reasonably priced, given how much pleasure I derived from my meal there. Masa is two and half times more expensive (at least) and if it provides two and a half times as much pleasure as Soto that would be a great deal of pleasure, indeed.
Soto is currently undiscovered (there were only ten people in it at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night), but I'm sure the Times' Frank Bruni and New York Magazine's Adam Platt will review it before long, so go now while you can still secure a table (or better yet spots at the sushi bar) on a moment's notice.
So if you're looking for a weekend food treat, check out Soto. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Soto 357 Sixth Avenue (Washington Place) New York, NY 10014 Ph: 212-414-3088
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