Our friends have been patrons of Gari for 20 years, before Gari opened Gari Sushi. At the last minute last night we were invited to come along to the pre-opening at Gari Sushi on Restaurant Row. This is his fourth restaurant, the other three are on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Tokyo. Tonight his new restaurant on West 46th Street between 8/9th will open to the public.
It was an eating extravaganza. Same menu, same concept but just as good if you are a Gari Sushi fan.
We started with a small square piece of custard in a tiny round bowl. I thought it was tofu but quite frankly it tasted too good. This was actually sesame seeds that had been boiled down and made into a custard that they served with a dollop of wasabi and a light ponzu sauce. It was really good and creamy.
Second course was a plate of sashimi. Lobster thinly sliced with a citrus type sauce, pieces of yellowtail with a spicy sauce, kumamoto oysters (my fav) with a wasabi tang and tuna with a smattering of ginger. All delicious. Each piece had a flavor to complement the fish but nothing too overpowering.
Our third plate and the plates that followed were all sushi. What Gari does is basically use something on each piece of fish to create a different experience. Tuna with a dollop of a puree of tofu, mackerel with a plum sauce but my favorite on this plate was salmon with a warm layer of roasted tomatoes over the top. Really interesting.
Next up deep fried tarot root chips with a mixture of salad and mushrooms served over a piece of white fish, citrus sauce over mackerel, ginger sauce over Toro and a jalapeno sauce over yellowtail.
Fifth plate, we actually ate more than I realized, was Mackerel with small veggies with a citrus sauce, tuna with chopped daikon radish on top, white fish with sauteed mushrooms on top and roasted oysters wrapped in seaweed and a wasabi sauce. The oysters were really interesting and good.
Our last plate was scallops with red peppercorns, seared Toro with ginger, cooked sea eel (this was really good) and torched urchin (basically charred).
Dessert was red bean and green tea ice cream.
The sake at all his restaurants is Gari's exclusively that he gets in Japan.
The restaurant is small and simple. Very similar to his Westside restaurant. I have never been to the Eastside. As a rule, I am a sushi purist. I am not a big fan of the toppings on each of the different pieces of fish. Gari continues to serve a lot of the same fish through out the night but the change of toppings, sauce and textures is his signature. Some are really good and innovative, others I could pass on. Gari is such a character and certainly one of the more creative sushi chefs in NYC. Big congratulations on opening this space. Now there is at least one other top restaurant in the theater district. Something that area has been calling for. My guess is he will be packed from day one.