Midtown Lunch: Sushi A-No-Go

Tensan 002In lieu of my appearance on Midtown Lunch yesterday afternoon, I felt it was appropriate to talk about well, lunch in Midtown. Though I’ve officially only been a member of the Midtown Lunch scene for about five weeks, I’m slowly making my rounds about midtown. But as  someone who proudly brings a homemade lunch to work at least three out of the five workdays, I find myself in need of some consultation on where to go in my new hood.

Usually I ask my personal NYC Midtown Guide Erica for all things midtown but I decided to switch it up and go with a suggestion from my friend Justin who LIVES in midtown. Figuring Justin’s lunch suggestion would be a sure thing, I headed over to Tenzan expecting a fine sushi lunch special. And upon entering the restaurant I remained quite confident and pleased with Justin’s selection that was until we ordered.

Though Tenzan appears to be a well-respected chain sushi restaurant around Manhattan, it is anything but. Don’t let the sleek decor deceive you. Sure, two rolls along with a soup or salad is a great deal for $8.95 but that’s what it costs at most places these days. Inspire me, please! After being hounded to order my dish I suddenly became skeptical of how well-respected this chain really was.

Tensan Mixed Greens

I started off my meal with a mixed greens salad that was just pathetic looking. The leaves were slightly wilted and tomato and cucumber were more of a garnish than a part of the salad. The sushi quickly followed and I mean real quickly.

Tensan Sushi

We’d barely finished our salad and soup when our sushi had been served. And though the sushi might look alright at best, it certainly didn’t reflect its appearance. Sloppily made, the sushi rice was holding onto its blanket of seaweed for dear life with the spicy tuna bits not falling far behind. I was optimistic about the salmon avocado roll with its shiny bright complexion but after one bite, my mood had quickly changed. The salmon was suprisingly chewy, though the avocado was luckily a nice smooth addition.

So please, if you’re looking for a well priced sushi lunch, be sure to steer clear of Tenzan. Next time I’ll try Tanaka.

David Burke’s Foodie Wonderland

David Burke's TownhouseDavid Burke, you had me at hello. Foodbuzz you’ve always had me.

Hats off to the producers behind last night’s Foodbuzz Millionth Blog Post celebration at David Burke’s Townhouse. I was in complete awe and admiration of the truly stunning display of American fare chef David Burke, had prepared for us. And as a recent winner of the James Beard Lifetime Achievement award, I wouldn’t expect anything less!

I was told he was out to impress, and that he did with an overwhelming selection of fresh shellfish and sashimi, classic sliders, perfectly grilled meats, countless fried and steamed dumplings, and dozens of other tantilizing bites including a charming selection of petit desserts. The selection of food seemed endless! And I savored every last morsel from their special Lychee Martini Cocktail to their signature cheesecake lollipop. But the best part was, so did everyone else!

David Burke's Townhouse Lychee Martini David Burke's Townhouse Sliders

In my circle of family and friends I’m hard pressed to find someone who truly loves and appreciates food more than I do. Whether we’re talking sweet, savory, sour, meat, fish, vegetables, I love them all. I eat every meal as if it were my last and I have a good feeling that some of the other foodies in the room do the same. For once, I wasn’t alone!!! My eyes popped and my mouth watered along with dozens of other ravenous foodies eager to taste the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. And this time, God himself encouraged us to enjoy the fruits of our laborious food writing.

David Burke's Townhouse Lobster Scramble David Burke's Townhouse Sushi

In about 90 minutes I consumed 2 sliders, numerous dumplings, lobster scramble, lobster bisque, tuna sashimi, grilled rib eye, grilled salmon, assorted sushi, scallop ceviche, tuna tar tar, foie gras, beef carpaccio, butterscotch panna cotta, a beignette, apple fritter, and finally David Burke’s trademark, cheesecake lollipop.

David Burke's Townhouse Espresso Creme Brulee David Burke's Townhouse Lollipop Tree

And after indulging in some phenomenal food, making some new foodie friends, and meeting the renowned David Burke in the flesh, the clock struck midnight and I was no longer a cheesecake lollipop on a pine tree pedestal. Though I’ll continue to savor – the wonderful flavors – of David Burke’s Town-house.

David Burke's Townhouse Jessica Hartley

Yama 49

Last night I had the priviledge of entertaining my friend Marc who is in from Switzerland along with some of his friends. Lucky for me I was introduced to a very interesting group of professionals all involved in the development of peace through sports. Since we began the night at Pig & Whistle, which I must add had a horrible beer selection (on tap), I suggested we walk a few short blocks to Yama (49) for dinner.

I was first turned on to Yama by my Wisconsin friends, though I was not too impressed on my first visit. But after dining at Yama many times, I’ve developed a great appreciation for this seemingly hidden neighborhood gem.

The more times I went, the more I enjoyed it and not only because of the company. Usually I dine at Yama while catching up with my Wisconsin friends who I haven’t seen in a while and not really paying as much attention to my sushi as I normally would. But my last few dinners at Yama have been phenomenal.

As you’ll see in this picture of the sushi we ordered last night, the presentation is wonderful. And each morsel from a piece of ikura or tobiko to the beautifully shiny salmon, both appeared and tasted incredibly fresh. Yama takes great care in creating their roles from the perfectly sliced cucumber surrounding the “I Like Eel” roll to the drizzling of the spicy mayonnaise.

It only seemed right to share this wonderful sushi haven with friends that wouldn’t have come across such mouthwatering sushi as Yama. And since everyone seemed to trust my palette, I was chosen to order for the table, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Because I LOVE to share, I ordered a bunch of their “special rolls” for all of us to indulge in. I decided upon a variety of rolls including eel, scallop, tuna, and salmon which were all quite yummy. I had requested they serve the sushi with a side of their famous carrot ginger dressing. I have to say that Yama has THE BEST ginger dressing in all of Manhattan and though my friends visiting wouldn’t know how it compares to the rest of New York’s offerings, they had to agree. I believe the large amount of oil Yama use’s in creating it is what makes the dressing just that good.

The ambiance at Yama is a nice compliment to their delectable sushi. Its darkly designed interior contrasts nicely with the irridescently white sushi bar where “cute old men” as my friend called it, slice Yama’s fresh fish. Yama’s zen-like interior is a refreshing alternative to the other pub-style and Italian eateries that flood the east 50’s.

So, if you’re looking to impress visitors or are craving an obnoxiously large sushi roll, head to Yama 49 (the best of the three).

YAMA

308 East 49th Street

(Between 2nd & 1st Avenues)

BONDST: Still Hot or "So 8 Years Ago"?

Although the infamous BONDST has been on my radar for years, last week was the first time I had ever been. I’d heard so many things about BONDST that I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Friends had told me that the rock shrimp was to die for and how sheik the lounge was, and how I should keep my eye out for celebrities. And then I read a review on Menupages that had actually been titled “So 8 Years Ago”. Apparently not EVERYONE thought this place was up to snuff.

My head was spinning with expectations. The only thing I was concerned with was the food, so I took a peak at the menu, in advance, and was delighted with the variety of appetizers, main courses, and sushi that adorned the menu.

When I’d finally stepped in the infamous BONDST last Tuesday night, I was taken aback. The restaurant was filled with a mix trendy, carefree 20 and 30 somethings enjoying drinks or dinner which seemed to be their usual. As we made our way to the second floor, I was relieved to see that it was a bit quieter and less crowded. We were immediately seated and greeted by our waiter.

After giving the wine menu a once over we decided to order a bottle of sake and some Sapporos. We began our meal with some complimentary edamame and sipped our sake as we contemplated what to order. I was so content that I decided to let my date do the majority of the ordering, as he was quite familiar with the menu. We finally ordered the following dishes:

Edamame

Edamame

Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad, orange sesame dressing

Toro Tar Tar

Toro Tar Tar, japanese mustard, sansho pepper seasoning

Lobster Tempura

Lobster Tempura, creamy japanese mustard dressing

Nasu Dengaku

Nasu Dengaku; grilled japanese eggplant, sweet miso sauce

Spicy Yellowtail Roll, red pepper sour miso

Spicy Yellowtail Roll, red pepper sour miso & Spicy Caviar

Sesame Crusted Shrimp Roll, orange curry dressing & reduced balsamic vinegar

Sesame Crusted Shrimp Roll, orange curry dressing & reduced balsamic vinegar

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Me eating sushi : )

Shrimp Special

Shrimp Special

My favorite dishes of the night were the lobster tempura and the special shrimp appetizer. I’m not quite sure what was the shrimp appetizer but it was delicious. The shrimp were crisp on the outside, while perfectly tender on the inside and gently covered in a savory sauce. The lobster tempura was hands down the best tempura I have EVER eaten. The japanese mustard dressing and the mixed greens were a perfect pairing. The Nasu Dengaku, or grilled eggplant was also perfect crisp on the outside incredibly flavorful. The seared shrimp roll was also a very interesting dish. The texture of the tempura flakes with the red pepper sour miso gave a slight curry flavor which was surprising and delightful. Although BONDST is known for their sushi, I must admit that what we ordered tasted slightly fishy. The Toro Tar Tar, the Spicy Yellowtail Roll, and the Spicy Caviar were all a little off. I would recommend going for sushi later in the week, which is probably when a fresh shipment of fish arrives.

Though there were no celebrity sightings that night, the food and ambiance exceeded my expectations and made for a fantastic evening. I definitely think this place is still hot and especially for date night! The only thing I regret about my experience at BONDST was ordering a second bottle of sake.

BONDST

6 Bond St.

New York, Miami, Beverly Hills