Sushi Azabu is one of those places that we'd been trying to get to forever, but has always seemed to elude us for one reason or another. It's one of New York's true hidden restaurants - a Tokyo-style sushi bar with no more than 25 seats in the basement of the Greenwich Grill in Tribeca. After showing up a few times and being denied, we decided it was time to make a reservation, and this was not an easy reservation to get.
We had night hopes for Sushi Azabu. Not only had we received positive intel from trusted Infatuation sources, but Frank Bruni once wrote a great piece on it, calling it one of the best mid-tier sushi restaurants in town and comparing it to Kanoyama. Every piece of information we had told led us to believe that Azabu was gonna be the sh*t. But it wasn't.
The $65 Azabu tasting menu that Bruni suggested just wasn't satisfying. Aside from a stellar sashimi starter and an excellent miso soup, the rest of our meal was rather uneventful, and we were still hungry after it was over. The cooked dishes were mediocre at best and the main attraction, the sushi spread, wasn't exactly special either. The room let us down too. After being led to a secretive basement lair by a woman communicating with someone (we're not sure who) via bluetooth, we were expecting geisha girls with snakes around their necks or at least a dragon or some sh*t. But there was absolutely zero vibe down there. No music. No bells. No whistles. Just a sushi bar, a couple of barren booths and a bunch of people with headsets. Ten years ago, I could see how this kind of place was a big deal. But nowadays, when secret dining rooms are a dime a dozen, Azabu feels tired.
Our meal here started off strong. The tuna was fresh and delicious, and the fluke couldn't have been better.
This one was questionable. The fish came out smelling a little fishy, and didn't taste all that good.
Another questionable dish. The idea of cold octopus in a vinegar marinade with chopped cucumbers is a good one. However, when the octopus is so rubbery that your jaw hurts from chewing, it tuns into a bad one.
The sushi spread was alright, but we expected more. The only roll was a basic tuna roll. Nothing to see there. Some of the sushi was excellent. The mackerel was creamy and delicious. The fatty toro was spot on, but the scallop was a little slimy.
I can't remember the last time the soup closed the meal, but this was an awesome closer. This soup is rich and silky, with sliced scallion for a little crunch. Amazing.