One of the most exciting restaurants to open up this year is the Japanese jewel Neta, on West 8th Street. With the two chef/owners hailing from Masa and Bar Masa, you would expect pure awesomeness. And that is what you get. But besides sublime and fresh sushi preparations, you get a festive and hospitable atmosphere, not so common with fine sushi temples. Many of the great sushi joints I love are very calm, subdued, quiet, and sometimes stiff. Neta is none. Neta is fun, festive, jovial, welcoming, and cool.
I sat at the long bar on a recent evening, and ordered the smaller omakase ($95). What ensued was plate after plate of pure fabulosity. I had the pleasure to be served by chef Nick Kim, and what I love about this kid, besides his ingenious sushi preparations, is that he is laid back, cool as heck, and doesn't really take himself too seriously. Don't get me wrong, this is serious food, but served in hip environs with a chill vibe.
Dungeness Crab salad with cucumber, wild parsely, and a dashi vinaigrette was refreshing and the perfect starter.
Spanish mackerel comes with daikon, and a bonito sauce, and is superb.
Boston Scallops, Santa Barbara sea urchin, and chanterelle is unbefuckinglievable, and a true dream of a dish. Ingenious.
Some of the best tempura I had encountered came to me this night at Neta. Fried Blowfish, potato leaf, okra, and a sweet corn fritter. It was all simply amazing. And I was honored and excited to have my first bite of blowfish. Sensational.
Szechuan Spiced Salmon tartar comes with bonito flakes and crispy rice. It's and ingenious preparation, quite inspired, and great.
Sushi at Neta is sublime. Each piece a fresh piece of perfection.
Kampachi with spicy potato
Wild Scottish Salmon with Szechuan Sauce
Grilled toro sinu
Soft Shelled Shrimp!
And then came the dish that gave me multiple orgasms. Sea Urchin risotto. One spoonful of this and I was almost on the floor, legs shaking. Yes, I moaned a few times. Make sure you get some!
This was followed by a piece of sweet potato sushi.
Then a fabulous grilled unagi roll.
And my stunning friend the Sea Urchin returned in sensational sushi form.
Long Island fluke wrapped in pickled daikon.
Glistening Akami (the lean part of the tuna)
Toro with scallion hand roll was out of this world awesome!
The last piece of sushi was not fish but shiso with pickled plum, a tangy and perfect end to an amazing omakase.
Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert, so a little peanut butter ice cream did the trick.
So for a festive, fun, and sublime sushi adventure, Neta hits the spot. Raw fish magic awaits..and then some.
61 West 8th St. (and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011