Well mes chéries, it’s been a minute since we met on a Picky Palates post! No surprise here that we are are back with a sushi post though… This past Saturday, I finally got a chance to try Sushi Dojo in the East Village. I’m not sure if their current menu is altered for COVID dining, but their omakase was delicious nonetheless! If you want to see my live reaction, be sure to stick around to the end of the post to see it in my “What I Eat in A Day” YouTube video! Otherwise, scroll down and prepare to drool a little.
Sushi Dojo currently has different entrée options (not pictured). For those interested in their A La Carte menu, I’ve included a photo of their extensive selection below. They have a 12 piece and 15 piece omakase course. For those of you who might be new to sushi dining, omakase basically means “I’ll leave it up to you” or “I trust you.” Restaurants have different omakase sets. Some do a specific number of pieces at a set price. Others serve you piece by piece until you ask them to stop, in which these pieces are priced at a la carte/market price.
My sushi partner-in-crime Kathy (yes she’s single, slide into her DMs if you’re a 6′ finance bro with big strong shoulders and can be the Patrick to her David) and I did the 15 piece one which includes a hand roll as well for $98. We later added a few a la carte pieces at the end of our meal. If there is something you want specifically, you can also ask for the price per piece on that option! For example, I ordered an extra scallop nigiri with uni on top which is not listed.
Note that all photos in this post are not edited at all. I wanted to include the most authentic photo of the sushi without any fancy editing that could alter the true texture and saturation of each piece. Apologies if they’re not the highest quality, as my phone is older and my new iPhone AND new ring light (mine broke) are still slowly crawling to me in the mail.
Usually, omakase courses feature one piece per plate. Given the outdoor dining situation, they split it up into 3 plates and one hand roll dish. The first plate included from left to right: Akami (blue fin tuna), Arctic Char, Sea Bream, Tasmanian Ocean Trout, and Kanpachi (amberjack). Each piece is already glazed with soy sauce, but Sushi Dojo did not include wasabi between the rice and fish like some places do.
I have nothing bad to say about any of these pieces! Each nigiri was so fresh. There was absolutely no fishy taste at all. The texture of each fish was accurate to its kind and not overly glazed with soy sauce. Unless you are an expert, it is a little difficult to taste the difference between the two salmons. I found the Tasmanian Ocean Trout to be a little lighter and fattier (in a good way) than the Arctic Char. I usually don’t care for Sea Bream, but this piece was exceptionally soft in texture and fresh.
Round two featured their “Dojo Favorite Sushi Pieces” as seen on the right hand side of the menu I included above. I can’t remember the left-most pieces to save my life, but if I had to take a guess based on color and texture, I believe it could be Madai (Japanese red snapper). The rest of the plate from left to right are: King Salmon with onion mayo and fried tomato, Hamachi (yellowtail) with jalapeño, Hotate (scallop) with uni (sea urchin), and Chu Toro (medium fatty tuna) with black garlic and gold leaves.
Considering I don’t remember what the left piece is, we’ll tragically skip that. I know, do better. I know. I hate tomatoes so I took the fried tomato off the beautiful king salmon piece which was just as fresh and fatty as a king salmon nigiri should be. I personally felt like this piece was ever so slightly sweeter than the other two previous salmon pieces. I’m not a fan of yellowtail, so I found the hamachi piece to be average (but again, still fresh).
The scallop and uni piece was a dream, enough for me to order a separate piece after the omakase course was completed. We’ll talk about the uni later, but the scallop was the perfect amount of squishy and chewy but not tough. When it comes to fresh scallop, you should not be sitting there chewing on it forever. It won’t be as crunchy as squid per se, but it should be firm yet soft with a sweet and almost creamy taste.
Lastly, the tuna piece… Let’s talk about it. This piece was weird. For starters, I think black caviar would have tasted better than black garlic. The garlic gave it a really weird kick that was too eccentric for my taste when it comes to sushi. To be honest, I was so taken aback by the garlic addition that I did not truly enjoy the Chu Toro itself which is a shame. It was light enough in taste that the garlic completely overpowered it.
The last nigiri plate was a dream. This plate consisted of the most savory and squishiest (LOL but actually) pieces. From left to right, you have: O Toro? (forgot what specific tuna this was), Uni from Hokkaido, Botan Ebi (sweet seared shrimp) with garlic butter and foie gras, uni from Santa Barbara, and A5 wagyu beef with foie gras as well. Since it was getting much darker out, I included no flash and flash photos. I’ll compare the two uni pieces later, so let’s start with the other three nigiris.
The tuna piece honestly tasted like good old regular tuna. I don’t believe there was anything special about the tuna pieces this meal partially because I don’t care for tuna and partially because they all tasted fresh and of good quality which is all I really could ask for when it comes to a fish I’m quite blasé about. The shrimp piece was delicious but should not have been so smoky. I think they seared it to match the butter and foie gras taste but I would have preferred if this piece was just the shrimp itself. I think Botan Ebi has such a unique squishy but creamy texture that is unlike scallop or squid and should be enjoyed alone with wasabi and soy sauce at most. Lastly, the wagyu beef piece was everything I expected from a wagyu beef sushi. It did not disappoint but it also did not exceed my expectations. I personally don’t love mixing beef with sushi rice, but they did this piece well. It was delicious and not too salty even with the foie gras on top!
And now for the stars of the show, the uni. Kathy and I both tried the Californian uni first. As you can tell from the flash photo, this uni is in smaller pieces, mushier, and brighter than the Japanese uni. It’s a mustard yellow whereas the Japanese uni is in larger pieces, drier, and a darker yellow-orange. The uni from Santa Barbara was sweet and melted wonderfully in our mouths. There was a light almost fruity taste to it which will be much friendlier to tongues that are still new to uni. The uni from Hokkaido was a lot denser, thicker, and heavier in taste. This uni tasted like your traditional uni: a little bitter, savory, with a taste of the ocean. It’s much richer and creamier than the Californian uni. You can feel the texture of the uni on your tongue whereas with the California uni everything just melted once it was in your mouth.
The classy bougie thing to do is to prefer the Hokkaido uni, but we ended up ordering the Santa Barbara uni to relieve our taste buds from all the strong flavors that were on our last five-piece plate.
At the end of an omakase course is usually a hand roll plate. We had the choice of spicy soft shell crab or negitoro which is tuna with scallions. Kathy ordered the crab and I the tuna. The hand roll had the perfect ratio of ingredients to rice which you don’t often find in other Japanese restaurants. Often, the chefs pad the hand roll with more rice which cheapens the roll in my opinion. There wasn’t anything special to report on the hand rolls other than what I’ve said about Sushi Dojo’s fish: fresh, no fishy taste, good texture.
The Extra Plate
Like I mentioned above, Kathy and I ordered a la carte pieces to wrap up our (expensive af) meal at Sushi Dojo. She ordered a piece of scallop nigiri, uni from Santa Barbara nigiri, and I ordered a scallop with uni from Santa Barbara nigiri. Sense a pattern? Yeah. We both really f*cking love our scallop and uni.
As you can see, they were quite generous with each piece especially mine. I received twice the amount of scallop (it was wrapped around the rice) and uni on mine than I did in the omakase course which I appreciated since mine was $12/piece (and honestly worth every penny).
Overall, I think Sushi Dojo omakase is on par with other NYC omakase restaurants. The price for 15-pieces is competitive to places. The chef put a unique spin on the menu by fusing different flavors in their specialty pieces that not all palates can appreciate. Their fish quality was definitely above average and close to some of the freshest pieces I’ve eaten (which was at a different NYC restaurant). However, I would not choose Sushi Dojo as my first pick for omakase. I like a more traditional menu with more options such as squid, roe, and other types of fish instead of different types of tuna/salmon. Personally, Sushi by Bou and Sushi Yasuda still rank as my top two omakase places for experience and food itself.
I hope you guys enjoyed this Picky Palates review of Sushi Dojo! Don’t forget to check out my live reaction in my “What I Eat in a Day: Weekend Edition” video below. Apologies if the quality of photo is not optimal. I couldn’t bring my DSLR, but starting in November my new iPhone camera will do both my food and me justice ;). If you want to know what the best places are to eat in NYC/small businesses to support in the meantime, be sure to check out one of my best friend Lauren’s food Instagram @thankmelaternyc for the ~dish~ on some of the best exclusive neighborhood eats that people NEED to know about and my home friend Tiffanie’s food Instagram @millennialfoodienyc for photogenic desserts and some Asian eats #sendchinatownlove!
Comment below if you want me to try a restaurant.
Until next time, bisou bisou and bon appétit!