December 23, 2009

Tuesday Night Live at Sushi Uo

Tuesday Night Live! Ultra-fresh sashimi at Sushi Uo

Mackerel Sashimi

Wasabi Gnocchi w/ Crispy Salmon Skin

Chipotle Spiced Tuna Over Crispy Rice 2

Mushrooms in Buttered Parchment

Panna Cotta Noodles w/ Cucumber Jelly, Fresh Blackberry, and Green Tea Crumble Drizzle

UrbanDaddy's Sushi Uo's Tuesday Night Live blurb definitely caught my attention.
Chef David Bouhadana's hard-to-find LES  sushi spot announces "Tuesday Night Live," in which a diverse community of octopus, abalone, pen shell, scallop orange clams and surf clams meet their untimely demise right in front of your eyes, before finding their way to your mouth. Management warns that there may be some twitching.
Three trains from the Upper West Side, a few walking blocks, and a wrong turn into a downstairs bar later, I had finally made it to Sushi Uo. I didn't make a reservation since I wasn't sure when A could get out of work to meet me, but the two best seats in the house (alongside the sushi bar where you can see all of the action) were still open. While I waited for my companion to arrive, I tried the Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai Sake (smooth, tad spicy, served at room temperature) and watched Chef David Bouhadana slam pieces of raw fish into the cutting board. Some of the pieces slightly writhed after impact (and silently screamed), but that was the extent of the drama. There was no tank of live specimen nor creatures that would crawl off of your plate. That was probably a good thing for A's sake.

After A arrived, we decided to start with some appetizers. Our waitress recommended the most popular dishes including Wasabi Gnocchi with Crispy Salmon Skin, Chipotle Spiced Tuna on Crispy Rice, and Shimeji, Enoki, King Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Roast in Buttered Parchment (pictured above in sequence). Over the course of the evening, we tried all three of these dishes.

My favorite of the three appetizers was the Chipotle Spiced Tuna on Crispy Rice. The flavors harmonized well together; the modest, yet noticeable Chipotle heat added the perfect boost to the tuna. I also loved the smooth and crunchy textures that you'd get from a single bite. All tartares should come on a bed of crispy rice!

The Wasabi Gnocchi with Crispy Salmon Skin was also tasty. The salmon skin was cooked to perfection. The wasabi gnocchi vaguely reminded me of the wasabi shumai at Haru, but quite a bit more dense. The light lemon dill butter sauce was nice, but it didn't survive the first bite. I wished that there could've been more salmon skin on the plate to balance out the textures, or perhaps some other way to make the gnocchi a tad lighter. Perhaps the good and bad thing about this dish is that it's quite filling, so it would've been better to have it later on in the meal rather than first.

The mushroom "medley" was a no-fail dish. Then again, I'm very partial to mushrooms of all kinds (especially the enoki) and butter. I liked the fact that the presentation of this dish was slightly different than the others. It's a small detail, but the crisp crinkle of the parchment paper comforted me in the same way that a paper bag lunch would.

Once we had a few appetizers, our "Live" event was ready. Chef Bouhadana presented us with two beautiful plates of fresh octopus, scallops, abalone, giant clam, pen shell, and orange clam. Entry cost to this seafood convention is a $25, which I think is reasonable. It's certainly not going to fill you up (nor was it meant to), but it gives you a comprehensive tasting of the ocean's finest delicacies. For the squeamish, just know that nothing was slimy. Flavors were generally mild, which allows you to really hone in on the textures. Some pieces are chewy and others are surprisingly crunchy. I didn't dip anything into soy or use wasabi to ensure that I didn't drown out the natural taste. There was just a splash of yuzu on one of the pieces (I think it was the scallop?). My favorite was probably the octopus suckers that were the size of silver dollars. I kept eyeing a bowl of them in the chef's work area, hoping that just another one or two would magically crawl my way. That didn't happen of course.

After the entree, the chef indulged us with a few complimentary pieces of Spanish Mackerel in his signature soy sauce. This nice gesture was probably to make up for all of the food blogger smack talk he jokingly gave at the beginning of the night. Whether or not that was the case, we graciously accepted this treat. Having had extremely negative experiences with fishy mackerel in the past, I was slightly cautious at first. To my pleasant surprise, the Spanish Mackerel tasted very good and quite different from regular Mackerel. It was slightly sweet and not fishy at all.

Lastly, we were lucky enough to be offered a glass of plum wine and a "work-in-progress" dessert of Panna Cotta Noodles with Cucumber Jelly, Fresh Blackberries, and Green Tea Crumble made by Christian Aguilar. The presentation of this dish was my favorite. The panna cotta was cleverly shaped like tofu and arranged like noodles, but stayed true to its own sweet and milky taste. I loved the little details like the cucumber jelly cubes, black berry and green tea crumble. This dish should definitely be added to the menu!

In total, we both paid about $52 each (not including tip) for the meal. I would encourage adventurous eaters (especially sushi lovers) to go out and try Sushi Uo's Tuesday Night Live special. Sit at the bar, ideally the two seats on the side of the chef. Remember to try the Chipotle Spiced Tuna and save the Gnocchi for later in the meal. Also, be sure to ask for the amuse-bouche. We missed out on that but will definitely have to go back for a second try!

More pics can be found here.


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