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8.5
NYC

Brushstroke

We'll admit it. Our preconceived notion of what Brushstroke was all about happened to be dead wrong. We knew it was a David Bouley restaurant, and therefore had visions of older couples half asleep at the table, eating sushi without saying a word to each other. In our heads this was going to be a Golden Girls version of Nobu - which is becoming pretty golden itself. Luckily, we were way off base. The crowd at Brushstroke might be older, but this place is anything but old.

In reality, the creativity and level of ambition at Brushstroke exceeds that of almost any Japanese dining experience we've had in New York. And rather than suffering from his decades old pedigree, the restaurant greatly benefits from Bouley's French flair. All of the food at Brushstroke is a collaborative effort between Mr. Bouley and the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Osaka, which we know nothing about, yet assume is some kind of ancient school for food warriors. The dining room is a perfect, Zen inspired experience, and the menu is full of excellent surprises. However, if you find yourself in that dining room, you should know that you're eating prix fixe. That means you are dropping some serious dollar, and you better either be celebrating a special occasion or spitefully spending someone else's money.

Assuming you are on a real human being's budget, the bar is how we recommend you get down here. Many of the signature dishes on the tasting menu are available a la carte at the bar, including the insane pork belly and the delicious Chawan-Mushi egg custard. Sushi is also exclusive to the bar menu, but we suggest you stick to the cooked dishes. Those food warriors know how to cook things, and you don't want to be one trying to order a spicy tuna roll. Plus, it's about time you expanded your Tribeca Japanese food repertoire further than miso black cod and everything + ponzu sauce. Time to get Brushstroke on your Hit List.

Food Rundown

Steamed Chawan-Mushi Egg Custard
Start your meal off in style with their signature tea cup of glory, including some amazing egg custard with black truffle sauce and uni. Ridiculous.

Saikyo Miso Lobster Bisque
Miso soup as lobster bisque? Sign us up. Unfortunately, this didn't turn out to be as great as we'd hoped. It was the only menu item that sounded better on paper than tasted in reality.

Soft-Shell Crab with Chrysanthemum Ankake
Let this serve as a reminder of just how good soft-shell crab can be. The crab is lightly fried, and then seasoned with some crazy spices and a Japanese glaze. Incredible.

Yuzu-Kosho Pepper Marinated Pork Belly
It's entirely possible that Brushstroke's pork belly is the best we've ever had, and it's well documented that we eat a sh*t load of pork belly. This one was so soft, so flavorful, and so melt-in-your-mouth delicious that it almost felt like eating pig ice cream. The sweet onion puree and black vinegar sauce added incredible flavor too. It's worth a trip to Brushstroke just to eat this.

Grilled Anago And Malanga Yam Dumpling
We're not exactly sure how to explain alleged dumpling, as the texture and taste is nothing like a traditional dumpling. This spongy, dense eel and yam thingy is absolutely glorious and served in an udon soup, but it's not what we expected when we saw it on the menu. Either way, it's one of the best "dumplings" we've ever had.

Miso Marinated Black Cod
OK, so it's some kind of downtown Japanese restaurant requirement that they serve a miso cod. Not that we're complaining. No one touches Nobu, but this cod actually comes close.

Steamed Duck Breast
Sliced duck is served in a tasty yuzu mustard dressing with some flash fried eggplant. The bird is perfectly cooked to medium rare and is absolutely delicious.

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