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  • Restaurants
  • Midtown West
  1. Tara
    Photograph: Courtesy of Instagram/carolinemin_huang
  2. Tara
    Photograph: Courtesy of Instagram/j.ritty

Time Out says

As any Long Islander knows but won’t admit, the average area restaurant doesn’t offer as great of an experience as its city counterparts. The food might be on par, but there’s just something about the ambiance that doesn’t feel as thoroughly "lived in," worldly and cultured as dining in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens—especially when it comes to sushi dens. 

On Long Island, eating sushi at a restaurant feels anything but Japanese. The rolls are usually drenched in the sorts of sauces that only Americans love, omakase is almost never an option and fellow diners aren’t usually interested in traditional experiences. That is very well the case across certain Manhattan establishments also, but the city is, indeed, home to a slew of thoroughly Japanese destinations—from Sushi Yasuda to Sushi Ishikawa, Yoshino and Masa, among others. 

That is all to say: when you find a really good sushi spot near Long Island, you cherish it. Case in point: Tara in Little Neck, the northernmost neighborhood in Queens, quite literally touching Nassau County and, by extension, Long Island. 

Almost unremarkable from the outside, when gazed at from busy Northern Boulevard, Tara's interior decor is as clean, polished and minimal as you’d expect from a Japanese restaurant. Sushi chefs hone their crafts from behind an exposed counter that doubles as a seating area complementing the less than a dozen tables that pepper the middle-sized space. 

The food, obviously, is also on point, with special rolls that cater to the "usual" Long Island crowd without diving too deep into the array of mayo-heavy sauces that traditional Japanese eateries never offer. Needless to say, we suggest going the classic route, opting for one of three sushi or sashimi sets because, here, the fish really shines. 

Usual suspects the likes of salmon, toro and yellowtail share menu space with harder-to-find options like horse mackerel and amberjack. Appetizers are also standouts, including a seemingly forgettable dish of shishito peppers that your palate ends up cherishing long after you’ve gone home. The sushi is New York City grade—and so is the ramen on offer.

As delicious as the food is at Tara, it’s the atmosphere that truly gets you. The owner is a larger-than-life personality who works alongside the servers while donning avant garde fashion choices (on a recent Thursday evening, he walked around the space wearing a hat that said "cash only" although credit cards are very much accepted and a shirt by an obscure brand that he claimed to be "even more important than Supreme."). His mere presence reminds of the sort of unique characters that make New York City, well, not Long Island or the edge of Queens. The patrons reflect that world: it’s an amalgamation of people that don’t necessarily fit a theme the way they do at, say, Kotobuki in Roslyn—a mere 15 minutes away.

Whether Tara is great because it’s on Long Island or despite of it is a subject of conversation but, no matter what, suburbia land certainly benefits from its presence. After all, you know the old adage: location, location, location.


Little Neck
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