NYC: Tanoshi Sushi, BYOB Edo-Style Omakase

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I know I've been a little MIA for the past week. But it's kinda for a good reason... I've been busy celebrating using the "It's My Birthday!" excuse for any and all dinner plans as well as some birthday purchases. I know, 28 and still so eager and youthful, lol ;). I do plan on wrapping up my final thoughts on this round of my CLEAN 28 Cleanse, but I think this is more important...
Friends, meet the Triple X. It's made with uni, quail egg and salmon roe. When you eat this all in one bite, the yolk pops to cover the already creamy uni in even more creaminess if that was possible. As you continue to bite on, each of the little pieces of salmon roe bursts in sweet briney ocean flavor that's going to send you in an orgamasmic state of euphoria.

Pretty sure it's called the Triple X because they know this is some delicious food porn.

When I read that "the sushi at Tanoshi sushi is some serious Jiro-level shit", I knew I had to try it. You don't take it lightly when Kenji writes about a restaurant with such high regard. So it's been on my radar for a while. Jiro-level is a great perfect place to end my cleanse and to start some birthday foodie adventures.
Tanoshi is located in the Upper East Side, aka no man's land (sorry to those who live up there, but it's the truth). It's the definition of a hole in the wall restaurant. This place looks like it's built in some guy's pre-war brick apartment, furnished with a sketchy window A/C and all. It's so hole in the wall that it's BYOB for goodness sake! Omakase and BYOB, essentially you're bringing booze over to Tanoshi's apartment, and he's going to make you dinner. As good house guests, J and I brought a beautiful bottle of Kubota Manju Daiginjo that was just so smooth and wonderful with the meal.

There are 3 seatings per night, and it's all done by their reservation system on SeatMe. J and I chose the 7:30pm seating, but you can easily reserve up to 2 weeks prior for their 5pm and 9pm seating as well. 12 seats total around the little sushi counter with 3 sushi chefs. The $69 omakase is mandatory and it includes 9 pieces of nigiri, 3 pieces of simple maki rolls and 1 handroll to end the night.

You don't have to order appetizers to start, but J and I are fatties, so of course we did. The best appetizer of the night was their "Foie Gras of the Sea" aka monkfish liver. It sat on top of a ponzu sauce which was a great citrusy balance to cut the richness of the liver. It's one of the most memorable dishes of the night and the best preparation of monkfish liver I've had yet.

We also ordered the Tea Steamed Octopus - the octopus wasn't chewy at all and very tender. We enjoyed this, but would skip next time.

Finally, we finished with the Steamed Matsutake Mushroom in broth. It was a tad pricey for what it was, but our chef Una told us that this was in season and I'm a sucker for a good warm broth so we ordered it. It's only your birthday once a year you know? ;)

With some research after this meal, I found that matsutake mushrooms can cost upwards to $100 per mushroom which is insane...which explains for the $20 price tag on this yummy broth. Guess this is another mushroom variety that costs an arm and a leg (ahem, truffles of Japan perhaps?).

The broth in combination of the mushroom had such a nice aromatic flavor. But my favorite part of the dish was the yuzu wedge they gave us to squeeze into the booth. We were told to enjoy the broth from our tea cups by itself, and once we tasted the original flavor, to season with yuzu to taste. I LOVE citrusy flavors, but it was so interesting how the addition of the yuzu juice added a more savory depth of flavor to the soup when added.
There's 3 sushi chefs serving the 12 of us, J and I ended up with Chef Una who turned out to be the best for us since she seemed a bit more descriptive of the sushi than Chef Tanoshi who was serving next to her. The progression went like this...

• Fluke - tea soaked with a slight hint of yuzu & strong wasabi (says J)
• Sea bream - kinmedai
• King salmon - from New Zealand, super fatty and buttery*
• Bigeye tuna - marinated with miso yuzu on top - was a huggggge piece of fish

• Spanish mackerel - topped with yuzu and ginger. Was warm, fatty & buttery, the ginger was the star helping it be less fishy. Currently in season from Virginia.
• Amberjack - topped with cherry leaf blossom leaf which J said gave it a "cinnamon raisin bun" flavor, lol. We liked it!
• Wild albacore - topped w/sweet egg yolk. J really liked the egg yolk on top. Definitely gave it an interesting flavor and first time we've seen this done!
• Poached scallop - hotate, sweet sauce balanced with the spicy wasabi


• Salmon roe - marinated in soy sake marin and honey but then rinsed to leave a hint of flavor. First time we've had salmon roe in this preparation, took away some of the briney flavors, honey made it less salty, overall an interesting twist!

• Santa Barbara Uni w/ quail egg - aka the double X? Enjoyed the toast on the seaweed that rounded out the creamy flavors of uni covered in egg yolk.

• Meki of mackerel, salmon, and tuna  - strong hint of yuzu on salmon, overall average
• Spicy Tuna Hand Roll w/ shiso - was not too impressed with this one unfortunately, think the quality of the tuna could have been better
We decided to order a few more pieces of fish to add on to our omakase. The first was Japanese Butter Fish, it had a good sear to it, enjoyable but not like OMG I die.
The next piece was much more to our liking, Kyushu Island Mackerel which was nicely prepared in rice vinegar which helped round out the flavors of the fish. Loved this one. But nothing like what came after...
The Triple X was the best way to finish our night. If there is one thing I would come back to Tanoshi for, it is this amazing decadent bite. When I first got the Double X made with uni and quail Egg, I wondered how much the addition of the salmon roe would add to it all. The answer is, a LOT. As you're enjoying the creamy flavors of uni and quail egg, the roe really adds an extra burst of texture and briney salty flavor that just takes it to the next level.
All in all, we really enjoyed our meal at Tanoshi. It lived up to my personal expectations, however maybe not the hype of it being on some "Jiro-level shit". Because while there were some standouts of the night, half of the fish was pretty standard. Not every bite was like OMG I'm dying, which is what I expect from Jiro. I expect that meal to put me on a mindset of, I can die happy after this meal.

Now, in terms of comparing it to other omakases around the city at around the same price point, Sushi Dojo has a 15 piece omakase for $80 which I've really enjoyed in the past. That omakase gave us some o-toro which I was really missing from my meal at Tanoshi. Plus, Sushi Dojo's tuna hand roll was to die for, almooooost on par with Sushi Nakazawa's without the cost.
So I'll leave you with these final thoughts if you're wondering if it's worth it to check out Tanoshi Sushi:

Do you need the Triple X in your life? Yes, you do. 
Do you like BYOB spots? Who doesn't??
Are you okay with hole in the walls? Food & Saving $$ > Ambiance

If our answers line up, then grab a sushi loving friend, make your ressie here. If you don't want to feel like you're getting kicked out after 1.5 hours, you should probably pick the 9pm reservation. And in case you forgot, order the Triple X and the monkfish liver to supplement your omakase. You won't regret it.

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