Ichimura at Brushstroke sounds like a pop-up restaurant in a Greenpoint art studio, or maybe one of those collaborations between a famous name and a clothing store, like Elmo for H&M (skinny jeans and Muppet fur!). It is neither of those things. Ichimura is a tiny, eight-seat omakase bar located within David Bouley’s Japanese restaurant Brushstroke, operated by Chef Eiji Ichimura - which explains the name. You have to be pretty damn good at what you do to get David Bouley to give you a section of one of his restaurants, let alone name it after you. And Chef Ichimura is most certainly good. He’s clearly been given some freedom, too. Though Ichimura shares an entrance and a drink menu with Brushstroke, it’s an entirely separate restaurant otherwise.
To start, there is no food menu here. Ichimrura is omakase-only, and the entry point is $150. After you order a drink, the chef will ask you if you have any allergies or preferences, and the food starts coming. In all, this was our favorite sushi meal in quite some time, and we eat a lot of sushi. Well, I do at least. And what I’ll say is that although Ichimura is very expensive, you absolutely get what you pay for. That’s what really matters when you sit down for omakase anyway, right? You certainly shouldn’t have come here expecting a deal. Now get on the phone and make a reservation. And carry on for a Food Rundown that reads like erotic fiction.
The meal started off with an appetizer plate of a number of different bites. Ours featured, among other things, a tender baby squid, cured uni that was even richer and more briney than the fresh stuff, herring roe that provided the perfect amount of resistance before it popped, a shiso leaf filled with cured tuna, a cured scallop, and an excellent bite of octopus with wasabi and plum. Each one of these things was new to us, and absolutely delicious. Along with the appetizer plate came a few small dishes featuring some of the best mackerel and tuna we’ve tasted, both dressed with soy sauce and scallions.
As we slowly made our way through the first course, we watched Chef Ichimura slice fish for our next course, sashimi. It was all excellent. Fluke, snapper, amberjack, and chutoro, each better than the last, served with a small pile of sea salt and freshly grated wasabi.
The next course was chawanmushi, an egg custard. Served piping hot, it was full of king and blue crab and covered in summer truffle sauce. It was fantastic - rich and earthy thanks to the crab and truffle. Don’t make the same mistake we did and almost burn your tongue before the sushi course, though. You want your taste buds at 100% for what’s about to come.
The final course was 12 or so pieces of nigiri sushi. Chef Ichimura’s rice is perfect - warm, vinegared, and not too soft or too chewy. But unlike most places, where the "freshness" of the fish is espoused over all else, Chef Ichimura told us that he intentionally ages some of his fish. Oh, did we mention that he will gladly answer any questions you have and explain what he does and why he does it? Just lean in close, because he’s extremely soft-spoken. He ages his scallop for exactly four days, which he explained results in sweeter and softer meat. And he’s right - the scallop was ridiculous. His otoro is different too. He combines one slice of aged otoro with one slice of fresh, and places them on a single bed of rice. The end result is a piece that is simultaneously decadent and an interesting contrast of flavor and texture. He also doubles his serving of uni for a single bed of rice, layering on two scoops instead of the standard one. It’s heaven for an uni-lover. Every piece of nigiri he served was so great that we eventually stopped taking notes on the sushi, because there are only so many ways to write "incredible" and "insane". We really need some new adjectives.