Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gari - Review

Gari - Highly Recommended
370 Columbus Avenue, New York
Btwn 78th St and 77th St
Phone: (212) 362-4816

The wife and I had a great time hanging in central park, so we needed some place to eat in the Upper West Side. Rocking the OpenTable app on my Droid, I realized that there was a Gari nearby so I was like...eff yeah! Porthos raved about this place in the past and I figured definitely give it a try.

From the first bite to the last, this was a complete revelation on what sushi could be for me. I was reared on the traditional sushi via Porthos - basically fish prepared simply with no special sauces and definitely no dipping the fish into soy sauce. This was the complete opposite of that as the fish was mounted with tons of difference sauces, ingredients, and cooking techniques (charred, shabu shabu, tempura, etc.) that completed enhanced the fish. Now this isn't the crap that your get in the burbs - you know what I'm talking about...loads of mayo and/or cream cheese.

We had tons of sushi which were all great, but a few of my favorites are listed below:

Salad Sushi
First piece of sushi and it was a mind blower. Basically, madai with salad, vinaigrette, fried garlic, and pine nuts. Great balance of flavors (vinegar, nutty, savory) and textures.

Ceviche Sushi
This represented everything I loved about this entire experience. Like the great meal I had in Shanghai, an amazing balance of flavors - slightly sweet, sour, salty, and meaty. The weird thing was the texture and the flavor of the fish still came through. Completely a mind blower.

Marinated Tuna and Tempura Seaweed
Thicker cut of seaweed that was fried until crunchy like a cracker, not brittle, with marinated tuna on top. Completely delicious.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (9.1/10) – A mind blowing sushi experience playing with combination of textures and flavors. The rice has great texture, but it was a tad sweet which works with the balance of heat and sweet from the fish. The smoke flavor from the charring is spectacular.
  • Service (9.5/10) – The chefs were really attentive and the fish actually came out at a pretty fast pace. Also, the waitress was always on point with the tea and asking how things were. Really a great dining experience.
  • Atmosphere (9.0/10) – A much more vibrant scene than Yasuda or some of the other traditional sushi places.
  • Price (9.0) – I was worried from Porthos's previous experience, but this was actually not so bad. About $110 per person for maybe 10-12 pieces of sushi. I believe we usually get more from Yasuda, but there's a lot more work involved for each piece of sushi.
Closing Comments
Completely mind blowing experience, but when push comes to shove I think I still enjoy the simplicity of Yasuda more. Something about simplicity and seeing how great insanely fresh fish handled by an expert makes me one happy dude.

The last couple of great restaurant experiences I've noticed how the right amount of acidity really makes a dish pop. From China, to Anthos, and even Ko; the right acidity balance makes you want to eat more. Something I have to play with when cooking next time...

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