Omakase at Jewel Bako – NYC
It was the BF’s birthday (Happy Birthday David!) a few weeks ago, so as I usually do, I took him out for sushi. This year we went to Jewel Bako in the East Village. It’s one of the pricier sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, but I’d say it’s worth it as long as you order correctly.
To be more specific, order the sushi omakase ($65). Sure, you can order sashimi omakase ($65) like I did, and it will be gorgeous (see above), fresh, and delicious (the Santa Barbara sea urchin had me swooning, and the octopus with matcha green tea had great texture and flavor), but you won’t see the full range of the chef’s skill and talent as you would when you order the sushi. Also, if you eat fast like I do, in about ten minutes you’ll be sitting there turning greener by the minute as your dining partner gets piece after piece of beautifully composed sushi…
like this one. Golden eye snapper with yuzu and pepper was expertly and generously cut, and was almost juicy to the taste because of the yuzu. How do I know? Well, after a few minutes of just watching David eat, I decided to order a few pieces à la carte.
An order of ikura sushi with shredded nori and fresh wasabi was also very good. The salmon roe had great “pop” and wasn’t too salty as ikura sometimes tends to be.
Better yet was David’s sea urchin sushi (part of his omakase), which consisted of fresh and cooked uni, raw squid, a tiny fan of cucumbers, shredded nori, and fresh wasabi.
As it seems to be the trend these days, the uni was cooked/charred at the sushi bar with a blow torch. Think of it as uni brûlée, minus the sugar. Since David’s not a fan of sea urchin (crazy!), I gladly helped him with the uni, and I must say it was incredible. I usually prefer raw sea urchin over cooked, but the torched uni had a nice smokey taste, and because there was also fresh uni, the silky, buttery flavor of the uni wasn’t lost. The visit to Jewel Bako was worth it for the uni alone.
Jewel Bako also offers a Chef’s Tasting Menu which we might consider another time, but in terms of the amount of food, I’d say the sushi omakase was perfect. With both the sushi and sashimi omakase, in addition to the fish, you’re also presented with an amuse bouche (“tuna pizza,” raw tuna over charred rice and spicy sauce, on our visit) and miso soup to start. We were also offered complimentary plum sake at the end of the meal. The sashimi omakase, however, will have you wanting more, so if you must eat sashimi instead of sushi, I’d recommend a few more pieces à la carte. May I suggest the uni?
239 E 5th St (b/n 2nd Ave & Cooper Square; map)
New York, NY 10003
Wait they charged you 65 for counter piece by piece omakase? That is really cheap. Kanoyama a few blocks up is like 200-300.
@Ricky – Yes! People always complain of Jewel Bako being too pricey, but for the quality, I think it’s a pretty good deal.
Sushi is our go-to celebration meal, too, and I agree with @Ricky — $65 is a steal for decent omakase! My squeeze and I are planning to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary next week at Sushi Yasuda (as we always do), and it’s always such a treat to let the sushi chef pick out the day’s best cuts. Makes us feel like royalty!
On the same note Cotan a few blocks away from Jewel Bako charges 57, but the quality is not as good as Jewel Bako. 15 East charges 140, but I think its the best in NYC, its actually a bargain compared to places in ginza like Mizutani, Saito, Jiro.
@Meister – Congrats! I love Sushi Yasuda. I went last year for my BF’s bday and we sat with Yasuda himself. It was definitely an experience. He was cracking jokes the whole time!
@Ricky – I love Cotan also, but it’s more traditional and more casual. Haven’t been to 15 East yet. Will post about it when I do!
uni fest FTW!
looks pretty great.
That’s so funny, I went to Jewel Bako a couple weeks ago for my birthday as well! I agree that it’s a good place if you order correctly.
@TT – Fellow uni lover, yay!
@Ada – Happy BDay!!!
We’ve never been to Jewel Bako but we’re going to have to try out this East Village spot very soon! It looks and sounds delicious! We’ve also heard good things about the tuna pizza and sticking to the tasting menu, but your suggestions sound and look amazing!