Wed Sep 17 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Sushi Azabu, Tribeca’s new secret sushi bar, is so small and stealthy, you’ll want to keep its location to yourself. This Tokyo-style raw-fish shrine—tucked away in the basement of the Italo-Japanese Greenwich Grill—has only three banquettes and a half-dozen seats at the bar. Like a hot-boîte bouncer, the upstairs host notifies downstairs via radio of your party’s arrival. Through the main dining room you go, descending into a Zen cavern with stained bamboo on the ceiling and polished pebbles lining the floor. The seats at the bar are hot real estate for solo diners who happily hobnob with the talkative chefs while popping exceptional nigiri morsels into their mouths. The $58 prix-fixe set meal—a generous bargain considering the world-class sushi you’re getting—offers beautiful sashimi and grilled salmon starters, followed by half a roll and seven plump pieces (among them luscious chutoro and sweet, silky raw shrimp). The no-less-enticing à la carte options include opulent, barely seared Wagyu beef tataki, and superior maki filled with still–warm-and-crispy tempura shrimp. The long dessert menu, imported from the restaurant upstairs, features mixed berries in a refreshing red tea syrup and a classic sweet, creamy, crunchy Mont Blanc chestnut parfait. Unorthodox, but delicious.