DAILY NEWS / OOKI SUSHI ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
by Tony Pagano for Restaurant Tour
Besides talented chefs, nothing else is as critical to food tasting great as the freshness and quality of the ingredients used. Sure, you can mask sub-par ingredients with heavy sauces or exotic spices, but anyone with a discriminating palate will immediately know that inferior products were used.
Having been disappointed many times by dining establishments that hadn't made freshness and. quality their top priority, I wondered, as I accompanied my friend to a restaurant called Ooki Sushi, on Third Avenue (between 88th and 89th Streets), if I'd be disappointed again. Walking in, I was immediately impressed by the beautiful bar, done up in ocean-blue colors and sleek, high-backed chairs. We were seated at a table opposite the sushi bar and near a waterfall making soothing, gurgling sounds as it rippled over the pebbles on the wall.
We started out with the Red Snapper Ceviche, red snapper, just flown in from Japan, in a zesty yuzu sauce, with green peppers and cilantro. The snapper had a fine, delicate texture unlike the mushy texture of locally harvested snapper. It felt velvety on the tongue, and tasted absolutely delicious. The lemony yuzu dressing stimulated our appetites, making us eager for our next appetizer, o-toro Tataki .
The slightly-seared toro in Thai chili and basil sauce seemed to melt in the mouth, awakening taste buds I thought had long ago become permanently dormant. But also grabbing the attention of our taste buds were the delicious Grilled Sea Scallops in red wine, olive oil, and rosemary.
"I'm in love," said my companion, as she put her first Pop Corn Shrimp in her mouth. "I got to make this at home," she added. I took several shrimps and placed them in my mouth. Wow! They were hot, crispy, and very addicting in their mayonnaise and honey glaze.
"Tony, this is fantastic," my friend said, taking a bite from a lamb chop in the artistically-plated Grilled Rack of Lamb entree. The lamb chops looked and smelled so good; I wasted no time picking one up and taking a large bite out of it. It was so juicy and tasty; I skillfully used my teeth to strip the bone clean of any remaining meat, and didn't stop until all the lamb chops were gone.
The Fatty Tuna Tempura Roll, a combination of fresh eel, snow crab, and avocado in mango and yuzu sauce was, as my friend put it, the "ultimate," sending wonderful and satisfying taste sensations to the deepest recesses of our mouths.
Listening to the tranquil sounds of the waterfall, I finished what was left of my second cocktail, a delicious Lychee Martini, made with Absolut Vodka and fresh lychee puree. Far from being disappointed, I was relaxed, happy, and eager to come back to Ooki Sushi, where talented chefs and high quality ingredients combine to make every dish the "ultimate."
- Sunday - Thursday
11:30 am-11:30 pm
- Friday - Saturday
11:30 am-12:00 mid.