Can you believe that once upon a time (actually, not even THAT long ago) I didn't eat sushi?? Hated the stuff. Raw fish? No thanks. That's how I thought of it. BUT..I met my friend Ange at FIT (my alma mater) and she said she had the same issue until she started going to school in Manhattan and saw all the wannabe fashion designers at our school shoveling it down their gullets in between classes. "What's the big deal?" we had thought. Then one day I tried the beginner's sushi: California roll (crab, avocado and cucumber) and Philadelphia roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese), and liked it. Not so bad. Then I eventually worked my way up to Spicy Tuna, Unagi (eel) and Yellowtail. Fast forward 5 years later and now what? What's the next step? Enter Sushi of Gari.
Nestled on 46th between 9th and 10th sits Sushi of Gari, a rather inventive sushi restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. Your typical rolls can be made for you, but they are not listed on the menu. Here, it is all about the chef's selection of the freshest fish, and the most unique sauce accompaniments. Soy sauce is not forbidden, per se, but it's frowned upon ESPECIALLY with the tasting menu. The Omakase tasting menu is a little pricey ($50 per person), but it's definitely the best way to get a taste of everything. And I mean, everything.
I don't remember every single piece of sushi, but I will tell you the best and the worst. Yes, unfortunately there was a "worst" and it comes in the form of raw lobster. Oof. My stomach just flipped thinking about it. It was slimy, fishy, blech. I consider myself brave when it comes to food (except for shrimp heads – still can't deal with those), but I actually had trouble getting this down. If I wasn't around people I work with I probably would have spit it out somewhere discreet. Like the floor.
Ok, so the bad news is out of the way. Wait…almost. I was also not thrilled with the cod; it just didn't have a lot of flavor and it also ranked about a 7 on the Strange Texture scale. Fortunately, the tuna and the salmon made up for it. The tuna with miso or tofu sauce (it was a debate – the waiter's accent was a little difficult to comprehend) was delicious, so was the fatty tuna with radish and ginger sauce. The quality of the tuna was excellent, even in my spicy tuna roll. Two thumbs up for tuna. The other standouts were the red snapper with arugula and fried shallots (tasted like a refreshing salad), and the flounder with mushroom sauce (tasted like seafood risotto).
Saving the best for last – literally. This was the last piece of sushi we tried, and it was delicious: salmon with tomato sauce. And I don't mean liquid, runny tomato sauce from a jar. I mean chunky tomatoes, chopped and tossed with something tasty. Maybe breadcrumbs? Either way – it was amazing. Tasted like tomato soup. Mmm..
Despite the bloated feeling of a pound of rice expanding in my stomach, I highly recommend Sushi of Gari. The people around us also seemed to go with the Omakase tasting menu as well, so this is clearly what they are known for. If you're not that brave, you can still have them make a California Roll for you. They may laugh at you behind your back, but they'll do it.