Japan East Village Tour
We decided to use the date stipend on a tour of Japanese sake & cuisine in the East Village. We tried a selection of sakes at my favorite sake bar in the city: Hi-Collar, a tiny but decadent spot on East 10th street. Because neither of us knew much about sake, I suggested we choose our drinks based on how closely the descriptions matched my personality. We tried one that was “crisp, bright, and delightful” and another that was “sweet and complex.” Andrew suggested we skip the one that was described as “hefty, heavy” (props, Andrew, props).
We sipped our smooth, cold sakes and watched as our bartender seared a fresh mackerel with a small blow torch. I guess he was watching us too, because he brought over a single flower in a vase to add some romantic ambiance (not that the scent of mackerel isn’t romantic).
After getting our fill of sake, it was time for the main event: Omakase at Michelin starred Jewel Bako.
Jewel Bako’s minimalist and curious interior layout was immediately fascinating to Andrew, who is an architect. We admired the golden sloping walls that made us feel as though we were in the ribcage of a large whale. Almost as soon as we were seated, our meal began. We started with an amuse-bouche of chopped bluefin tuna on crispy sushi rice topped with salmon roe, which was yummy AF. We followed this up with a trio of tartares served with sweet yam chips. The tartares were heavenly: Scottish salmon piled high with salty roe, marinated bluefin with avocado wasabi mousse, and yellowtail diced with pickled scallions. After this redonkulously tasty appetizer, we had some unusually flavorful miso soup. Then it was time for the main course: we’d ordered the omakase. We were treated to marinated bluefin tuna, striped jack fish, tasmanian king salmon, golden eye snapper with yuzu pepper, yellowtail, fatty tuna, bruleed uni, stone snapper with lime zest, needlefish, baby white shrimp, pike eel with pickled plum, barbecued eel, red snapper with ponzu, and Japanese barracuda. Our favorite was the eel (of both varieties). We finished the meal feeling supremely satisfied (and incredibly full, which is not usually how I feel after sashimi.)