Everyone knows about my love for bacon. Not everyone knows about my love for sushi and tapas. I don’t think my love for the latter will ever be AS deep as the former, but it’s still something I thoroughly enjoy. Tapas means you get to order more than one dish for yourself! ARE YOU KIDDING. That’s the dream, kids.
Natsumi Tapas recently opened up in Gramercy, and having been a fan of the original Natsumi in the Theater District, I wanted to give it a shot. The space is pretty big, with a cute bar area and super friendly staff. Our waitress, Kate, was great at recommending drinks and appetizers which was super helpful because the menu is quite expansive. If you like variety, this place will be your heaven and also your hell. You won’t be able to decide what to eat…at least not quickly. They even have pasta on the menu, which was a little odd, but we didn’t try that so don’t expect me to help you out there. I felt like if I was in Natsumi, I should be ordering lots of fish.
So that’s what we did. For the most part.
In terms of the food, I have to say I was impressed with most of the dishes. Let’s talk about that.
I think this is a great start to any meal that involves fresh fish, because this is the freshest way to eat it, and most simple. Delicately sliced into strips, we had the hamachi with balsamic vinaigrette, the tuna with pepperoncini vinaigrette, and the salmon jalapeno with spicy sesame soy sauce. The hamachi and salmon were our favorites – super fresh and the sauces were perfect.
Tuna Tartar Martini
Now, I will caveat by saying that while this isn’t nearly as tacky as it sounds, it wasn’t amazing in terms of taste. The texture was a little mushy and it didn’t have that much flavor. The “martini” part of this was cool though – it’s actually a martini that they mix with gelatin to make it into a topping. I don’t really know why that part was necessary, as it didn’t seem to add much, but I’ll give them the wow factor on that one because that is definitely something I have never seen before.
Filet Mignon Tataki
Um. Let’s just say they made up for the martini mishap with this dish. The beef was so tender and flavorful, I remember debating ordering another plate of it. It’s filet mignon so obviously it’s going to be tender, but I think the ponzu garlic truffle sauce was what made it.
Miso Black Cod
WOW. Yes, that’s what we both said when we bit into it. However, it photographed horribly so I really didn’t feel right posting it. Not that my other photos here are amazing, but still. This was not something I would have ordered on my own, but I’m glad they suggested it. Excellent texture aka perfectly cooked, great flavor, and topped off with bonito flakes. Bonito flakes are the coolest and weirdest thing ever. They look like they’re alive. That’s the best way to describe them.
Here’s my belief on sushi: I like the idea of funky rolls, but at the end of the day, I’d prefer to keep it simple. I remember when I saw a Philadelphia roll for the first time I was like OOO YAY CREAM CHEESE I LOVE AMERICA. Then I ate it and was like BOOOOO STUPID COUNTRY. You get the idea. So this Squarano roll had tuna, salmon, kani, avocado, scallions, and pepperoncini. The pepperoncini was what intrigued me but also threw me – I was hoping it would have been a nice addition, but truthfully it didn’t add much. A little like the tuna tartar martini – not totally necessary.
Panko Chicken Katsu
Closing out the meal with some fried deliciousness is always a good idea in my book. My friend Katie described this in the best way: “they’re like chicken fingers, except for FUNNER”. If you haven’t seen Legally Blonde, then you might assume that Katie is not a high school graduate. But trust me she’s very smart and she loved this chicken too. Perfect crispy strips crusted in panko breadcrumbs, then a sprinkle of parmesan on top with balsamic BBQ sauce was just delicious. Loved it.
Sashimi Taco Duet
I never met a taco I didn’t like. All shapes, meats, and sizes…I’m into it. In this case, we’re talking about spicy tuna, which happens to be my favorite combo for sushi also. These were great and they weren’t the size of quarters; I hate when tuna tacos are too small.
If you’re in the area and looking for a solid cocktail and some small plates to share, I would definitely recommend Natsumi Tapas. It’s even a great little date spot – I wouldn’t know because I don’t do that, but friends agreed. Sexy sushi time!
323 3rd Ave, corner of 24th Street
Menu: Natsumi Tapas