Uni (sea urchin) has always been one of my passions, so when I heard of an Two Michelin Star omakase counter offering a tasting menu that specializes in uni in this beautiful city of New York, I just have to come here.
Soto is the other Two Michelin star Japanese restaurants in New York. Having been to the other one, Ichimura, just the night before, that really raised the bar to the food I will be having.
The exterior of the restaurants was unmarked and the store front visibility blocked to sidewalk traffic, so one wouldn’t really know it’s a Two Michelin Star restaurant. This minimal signage really reminded me of the styling of top tier restaurants I visited in Japan and added to the authenticity. Thanks for my foodie sense and my Xperia, finding the restaurant was non-issue for me.
The menu offered a la carte and omakase. Having omakase in a Japanese restaurant is like one of those things written on the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments so naturally I went for that. Interestingly enough, the omakase consisted of several smaller sized dishes from the ALC, kind of like a kaiseki, followed by a few nigiri courses, and finished with desert
Goma Tofu, black sesame and white sesame tofu, served with wasabi soy sauce and soy form. I always think that the first starter should make a good first impression and this did not disappoint.
Chawanmushi, traditional organic egg custard soup with shrimp, chicken, shiitake, mitsuba, gingko nuts, yuzu zest. A classic Japanese starter, it was piping hot and very generous with the ingrendients. However, I couldn’t help but draw comparison with the more luxurious black truffle infused chawanmushi I had the night before from Ichimura.
Fluke Ponzu, thinly sliced fluke with chive, ginger shoots, shiso leaf, under mizore ponzu sauce. I appreciated the cut was so thin that I could taste all of the flavor of the super fresh fluke. It was amazingly paired with the delicious ponzu sauce.
Seared Scottish Salmon, seared scottish salmon with black truffle salt, cresson with sweet, miso mustard sauce served with cresoon and sesame. Loved the skillful searing on the paper thin salmon…I wished I could have more of this and less of the salad.
Uni Cocktail, finest japanese sea urchin or sashimi with soy reduction and fresh wasabi. OK here we go, my first uni course. I’ve had uni cocktails in the past but this version has the least ingredents so nothing could interfere with the buttery and creaminess of the sea urchin roe. Just a small bit of soy reduction and wasabi and it turned the fresh uni into a delicious drink from the heaven. Amazing stuff.
Scallop and Fluke
Wild Snapper Carpaccio, new zealand wild snapper with aged vinegar and sea salt. sesame oil, garnished with chopped ginger shoot and cilantro.
Botan Ebi, Uni. Another amazing course, fresh shrimp paired with fresh uni…can this day get any better?
Hokki Nuta, thinly sliced surf clam with niyoga ginger shoots, and sesame marinated in sweet miso mustard sauce.
Cyu Toro Tartare, chopped fatty part of eye tuna with avocado coulis, garnished with caviar, served in sesame ponzu sauce. Another stunner, you get the richness of the toro, creaminess of the avocado coulis, and the saltiness from the caviar: mix them together and it was heaven in my mouth. Phenomenal!
Uni Ika Sugomori Zukuri, finest sea urchin wrapped in thinly sliced squid with shiso. served with quail egg and tosa soy reduction.
Definitely one of the most unforgettable omakase experience I’ve had. Many of the dishes were unique and delicious – this is why I came to New York for! Up to this point, I’ve only had uni in sushi or cocktail form (as well as one disgusting dish). Here, I was impressed with Soto’s proficiency in using uni and how it was used in exciting ways to create one solid menu. The following nigiri courses tasted fresh and ranked right up there with some of my best sushi experiences in North America.
One odd thing that stuck out to me was the service. It wasn’t bad, but I just find it odd that the interaction between the chef and the waitresses were quite mechanical. There were no cheery shouting for orders and a responsive “hai!” as in the case of a typical Japanese restaurants. It was just the waitresses responding the chef with mundane “yes”‘s (in English) and reporting to the chef the progress of the omakase in percentages. Never a dull moment when I’m traveling.