eat. shop. love. nyc.

Hidden EV sushi gem Cotan
July 6, 2011, 12:29 am
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Cold tofu dissolves on tongue. Scallion bits crunch.


Miso black cod melts in your mouth, hint of sweetness lingers.


Slightly warmed rice gives new life to fresh and succulent fish. Unctuous uni and silky botan ebi leave me with eyes aglaze.



Tempura fried bananas corrupt.

Cotan reduces me to poetry.

Seriously, though. This place is legit underrated. Quality of sushi vs. price makes it an incredible steal, and the non-sushi fare was excellent, as well. This is not the place you go for sexy ambiance or cheap sushi. You go here because the food makes it so effing worthwhile. The sushi deluxe (9 pieces) includes uni (sea urchin) and a tuna roll that made my eyes roll into the back of my head. Yeah. It was that good.

Eat: Cotan. 135 1st Ave at St. Mark’s.


Botan ebi sashimi
December 5, 2010, 7:44 pm
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I have a cyclical personality. I tend to go through phases where I crave a single cuisine or even a single food item and I want to have it every day. In November, I found myself at Sushi UO once a week (if I had all the money in the world, I would have been there far more frequently).

The last time I went, I got the botan ebi sashimi appetizer ($9), which is comprised of two sweet shrimp sashimi, one topped with uni (sea urchin roe) and the other topped with ikura (salmon roe).

The uni and the sweet shrimp is a decadent combination: sticky sweet with a rich mouthfeel.

The ikura ebi was more playful, the bubbles of salmon roe pop in your mouth and explode with flavor.

The shrimp are served alongside a centerpiece of deep-fried shrimp heads and tails, which are perfectly crisped and a pleasure to eat, texturally and in terms of flavor – the head has the best flavor!

Again, I highly recommend both of the no rice rolls (#s 1 and 2) to anyone who wants something that feels light, is on a low carb diet, or simply wants to try something new. This is the no rice roll #1 with tuna, shrimp, crab, avocado, radish sprouts, tobiko wrapped in cucumber ($13).

I’ve also blogged before about the no rice roll #2 with yellowtail, tuna, kaiware, and Asian pear, which is a total steal at $8.

Get thee to Sushi UO. Stat.

Eat: Sushi UO (LES) 151 Rivington St. between Clinton and Suffolk, upstairs. 212-677-5470. They take reservations starting at 5 pm, or you can reserve seats on Open Table.

Sushi UO blows me away (again)
November 12, 2010, 3:57 pm
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I’ve written about Sushi UO a couple of times already, which seems unfair because I have dined at several other restaurants and have failed to write about those experiences even once. But I just enjoyed one of the best sushi dinners I’ve had in a long time, and I felt I should encourage you NYC sushi lovers to go here once more. Don’t get swayed by the hype or the haters – Sushi UO’s celebrated Chef David Boudahana left several months ago and gone are the days of hot, tatted 23 year-old wunderkind sushi chef slicing fish and taking names.

On my most recent visit to Sushi UO last night, I opted to sit on the side of the sushi bar where two Japanese sushi chefs joked and laughed with one another as they worked away at fulfilling orders on a bustling Thursday night. He may not be 23 years old or covered in tattoos, but watching him slice, score, and roll, I thought he was pretty hot. It was definitely the best seat in the house. I felt like I was at a dinner theater, except better.

The first dish to arrive was the Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura Duo with wasabi aïoli and spicy red pepper aïoli ($13). The shrimp is just barely cooked through, the tempura batter is unbelievably light, and there is just the right amount of sauce. No soggy bits, no gushing oil, no rubbery texture. Just delicious, bite-size pieces of creamy shrimp. Also, this is a huge appetizer. Can easily be shared between 4 people, so for $13, it’s a steal.

Sitting at the sushi bar is a great way to get a feel for the other dishes at the restaurant. Someone, presumably on a low-carb diet, had ordered a lovely roll wrapped with cucumber instead of rice. It was just four pieces, albeit four very large pieces, and immediately Sara and I had food envy. When we asked what it was, we were told it was the No Rice Roll #2 with yellowtail, tuna, kaiware (daikon sprouts), and Asian pear. Since that sounded light and heavenly and was just $8, we went ahead and ordered one for ourselves. The Asian pear brings a hint of unexpected sweetness that truly makes this roll stand out. This is going to be a roll I order every single time I come here.

Sara and I ordered the $49 sushi and sashimi platter for two. We didn’t know what would be on it or even how many pieces, but somehow we felt it would be a good call. And it was. The platter included 18 pieces of sashimi, 10 pieces of sushi, and an 8-piece crunchy spicy tuna roll. The rice-to-sushi ratio was perfect, and the fish was impossibly fresh.

This might be a little blasphemous, but I actually think I enjoyed the salmon here at UO more than the salmon I had at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth soft, almost buttery, without any of the harsh fishiness of stale salmon. The tuna was so fresh and so perfectly cut that the fish was almost falling apart at the striations between the grain (I don’t know the proper terminology – sorry!).

The crunchy spicy tuna roll was good, but that’s fairly standard, I think. I usually don’t enjoy unagi. I think eel has a tendency to taste way too fishy, and I feel like the sweet sauce usually just masks the flavor of the eel rather than enhancing it. At UO, this was most certainly not the case, and I really liked the taste and texture of my unagi, finding the sauce to complement rather than hide the flavor of the fish.

After we had stuffed ourselves silly with sushi, the waitress brought us a two-bite dessert of flourless chocolate cake with raspberry ganache. The perfect end to an already-excellent meal.

Next time I head to Sushi UO, I plan to order the Botan Ebi Sashimi ($9) two pieces of shrimp sashimi, one topped with ikura (salmon roe) and the other with uni (sea urchin roe). It looked positively amazing. I will also be getting the omakase, a Japanese phrase meaning “It’s up to you.” The sushi omakase is $38 and the sashimi omakase is $46, 9 pieces of the chef’s choice depending on the freshest fish of the day. It is beautifully presented with fried shrimp head and tail, and the chef takes you beyond just the standard tuna, salmon, yellowtail, etc. that you usually find in the sushi/sashimi platters.

If a guy were to take me on a date to Sushi UO (without having known that I totally love this place), I’d be thoroughly impressed. It’s small and intimate, dark and sexy, and the food is really effing good. Quality sushi for a reasonable (not cheap) price. Sake flight also available for $14, I think.

Another important note for you dealseekers: Sushi UO serves an impressive $24.07 3 course prix-fixe menu daily from 6 to 7 pm. Sushi UO is closed on Sundays.

Eat: Sushi UO (LES) 151 Rivington St. between Clinton and Suffolk, upstairs. 212-677-5470. They take reservations starting at 5 pm, or you can reserve seats on Open Table.

Sushi UO’s $20.10 Restaurant Week Dinner Menu
July 22, 2010, 12:31 pm
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[tweetmeme]Sushi UO for dinner again. This $20.10 3-course set menu is awesome. This week only!LES speakeasy-style sushi den Sushi UO has an appropriately underground Restaurant Week menu through Saturday, July 24 (closed Sundays). It’s not listed on the NYC RW website because they’re not officially participating, but they are definitely running a simultaneous promotional prix-fixe menu for $20.10, which is way better than the $35 dinner for participating RW restos. Now you, too, can dine like Lady Gaga, Michael Stipe, and Drake (all spotted dining at UO in the past 4 months) without going broke. In two trips with friends, I’ve tried all of the apps and many of the mains. And I still want to go one more time.

Sushi UO Restaurant Week Menu 2010

First course:

  • Miso consomee with heirloom tomatoes and house-made tofu. Excellent. I would come to eat this soup alone. The miso is strained to remove the cloudy soy particles and there are tiny bits of heirloom tomatoes floating in this clear broth. The house-made tofu is served cold in a separate bowl, and you are encouraged to try the consomee and tofu separately before having them together. The tofu is silky smooth and clean in flavor. More courses after the jump.

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Michael Stipe eats at sushi speakeasy Sushi UO
March 25, 2010, 1:15 pm
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A few weeks back, Sara, Jilly, John and I were walking down Rivington in LES just as Michael Stipe stepped out of a cab. John was the first to spot (and correctly place) him, and he shout-whispered to the rest of us, “That’s the lead singer of R.E.M.” as we not-so-surreptitiously turned to look. A guy brushed past me, and the cab drove off. The guy who brushed past me was Michael Stipes, and he picked up his pace when he saw us beginning to fuss. Before we knew it, he had ascended a tiny staircase up to an apartment building at 151 Rivington. Maybe he has friends there?

As it turns out, those stairs lead to five month-old LES sushi spot Sushi UO, one of the NYC sushi places that serves spicy tuna on crispy rice. It is hidden away on the first floor of an apartment building on 151 Rivington, sort of like a sushi speakeasy. Yelpers and Menupage folk seem to think it’s great, but a tad overpriced. I haven’t been yet, but if it’s good enough for Michael Stipe, it’s probably good enough for me (the question of affordability is another issue altogether).

Eater reports that its 23 year old chef, David Bouhadana, is no longer with the restaurant. Not sure why he’s left, and not sure who has replaced him.

Click here for the menu.

Self-constructed 3-course meal

Yesterday’s eatventure with Sara consisted of three stops (unplanned) and a self-made three-course meal.

First stop: Jo’s (SoHo/Nolita)
Ate: 1/2 dozen $1 HH Miyagi oysters – these were normal sized, not on steroids – still buttery and meaty
Drank: HH draft of Ommegang Witte $4 for me, glass of Vouvray for S $10
Note: Angus the Aussie bartender has fabulous hair – he works Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Pardon the crappy camera but can you see how deep this Miyagi shell is? Not at all like the European flat oyster.

Second stop: Sachiko’s (LES)
Ate: Spicy Crunchy Rice (Spicy tuna on crispy rice) 6 pieces $8 – I am addicted.
Drank: HH sake for me, a very full champagne flute for $4; HH sake Cosmo for S $6
Note: We only ended up at Sachiko’s because when we arrived at CSBC (below) at 7pm, there was a 40+ minute wait for a table and we knew Sachiko’s has happy hour till 7:30 on weekdays.

The Spicy Crunchy Rice is good every time. Your choice of tuna or salmon. Also very good for HH is the tonkatsu ($10 – normally $14 if not HH). Sapporo drafts just $2.50 but I was afraid I’d be too full for Stop 3.

Third stop: Clinton St. Baking Company (LES) – February is Pancake Month!
Ate: BBQ Sugar Bacon Cheeseburger (BBQ sauce on the side) $16 & Fresh Blackberry Pancakes with Pecan Streusel and Warm Maple Butter
Drank: Water. We were already tipsy from HH boozing.
Note: 1/2 price bottles of wine on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, they’ve just introduced a $16 Crab Cake Sandwich & Amstel Light combo deal on Mondays & Tuesdays. By the time we finished dinner at 9pm, there was an hour+ wait! Get there early, put your name on the list, and grab a drink elsewhere until your turn is up.

Spicy tuna on crispy rice in NYC
February 9, 2010, 1:26 pm
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[tweetmeme]Of the many things I miss about living in Los Angeles (weather being number one – duh), the ubiquity of spicy tuna on crispy rice at LA sushi joints is certainly one of the most important. Yeah, yeah, so the tuna they use for “spicy tuna” is made from leftover scraps or less desirable cuts of tuna. I don’t care. It’s delicious.

Photo credit:

The sushi rice is molded into little rectangles and then pan-fried until crispy on the outside, which adds a great crunchy texture to what is otherwise essentially mushed up pieces of tuna with some sriracha (or other spicy Asian) sauce and a jalapeno slice.

It’s much tougher to find spicy tuna on crispy rice in New York City, and some of my go-tos have closed (Sachiko’s and Sushi UO). However, the following remain (updated 8-22-11):

  • Bond St.: Tuna Crispy Rice with Korean kochujang sauce, $15.00 – This is excellent. If you want something a little different (and pricier), they also have Alaska King Crab Crispy Rice with lemon aioli, serrano chili, and micro cilantro for $22.
  • Koi: Crispy Rice topped with spicy tuna, $16.00
  • Tao: Spicy Tuna Tartare On Crispy Rice, $14.00
  • Co-op at the Hotel on Rivington: Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice, $14.00