Last Friday night I had the pleasure and honor of being invited for a tasting at a new Midtown Japanese restaurant called Omido. Next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater where they film The Late Show with David Letterman isn't a location I'd consider a dining destination, but Friday night I uncovered a rare gem near Times Square. Brought to us by chef Eiji Takase (he was referred to me as Chef Taka) from the popular Sushi Samba restaurants, and a design by the hip AvroKO team, this is one of the top Japanese restaurants in NYC I have encountered.
I walked in to a nearly empty restaurant at 6pm, which by the end of my meal I thought should have been more full due the high quality of the experience. The restaurant is an all dark wood square room, with a semi-hidden dining area in the back, and with a square sushi bar in the center. I actually like the layout of this restaurant a lot, for from any seat you can view the action going on at the sushi bar, so it truly is dinner and a show. The lighting is dark, and is highlighted by the typical AvroKO use of Edison light bulbs. This sleek environment set the mood as an escape from the busy and touristy outside Times Square area.
Before my tasting menu began I tried the Shiso leaf Mojito, recommended to me by my knowledgable waitress Karen. Now, I am not a huge fan of the shiso leaf for it's flavor is just peculiar to me, but its addition actually worked really well in the mojito and it was a great start to the meal that was about to come.
The first dish that came out was the Organic Mushroom Salad ($9.50). It came with citrus soy and butter, and was topped with some green seaweed to give it some color. I really enjoyed this appetizer. The mushrooms were fresh and the citrus soy and butter broth was very soothing. The use of citrus soy gave it just the touch of acidity it needed. This dish was a great way to open up my palate.
(I should mention with this dish and with all the others, Omido's gracious host Christina paired for me sakes and wines that I actually did not write down, but all were perfectly paired with each dish and added to the overall amazing experience.)
My next course was the "Madai" and Pink Grapefruit Sunomono ($14) which came with Japanese snapper and ume grapefruit vinaigrette. I loved the freshness of the snapper, and I thought the use of grapefruit was ingenious, for like the previous dish, the balance of acidity was perfect. Not only was this dish deliciously refreshing but there was so much color on the plate that it was truly a work of art.
My next course was the Yellowtail with Shishito Pepper and yuzu garlic soy ($14.50). This was another winning appetizer. The yuzu garlic soy was simple and delicate, and a great compliment to the freshness of the pink yellowtail. Once again, Chef Taka not only plays with the flavors, but the balance of colors on the plate were extremely artistic.
Next came the Temari roll ($19.50), one of Omido's "Signature Rolls" which consisted of a piece of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail sushi topped with fois gras on a plate with a red mirin soy. These three beautiful pieces of sushi took decadence to the next level. It was some of the richest and meatiest pieces of sushi I have had.
An entree of Kakuni ($14) was served next which is braised short ribs with karashi mustard. Short ribs are common in many NYC restaurants and I have had my fair share of them, but I would have to say that these were the best I have ever encountered. They were extremely tender, juicy, and delicious, and they sat on a sweet sauce that was really tasty. The dish was topped with a little green cabbage that gave a nice crunch to it. On the side of the plate was a little of that karashi mustard for dipping which gave the ribs the perfect kick to it. This dish blew my mind.
Next was the overly popular Japanese dish of Black Cod Miso ($15) served with a pink pickled ginger stick. The fish was fresh and the dish was simple. This was probably my least favorite dish of the night, for I thought it was pretty boring, although I thought the addition of that pickled ginger was a unique touch.
And the food kept on coming. I was given a sample plate of Omido's assorted pieces of sushi and rolls. All was very fresh and some of the best sushi I have ever had. If I was just craving sushi I would not hesitate to come here for sushi alone.
Finally came my last course which was the Mango Parfait dessert ($10), which came with a sake marscapone, fresh mango, cashews, and peanut candy. This was an amazing dessert. It was refreshing, had the perfect amount of sweetness, all sorts of plays with texture, and there was such a unique combination of flavors that I have never encountered. This dish blew my mind. It was the perfect ending to this transporting experience.
Many tourists ask me where to dine when they visit the Times Square area, or before they see a show, and I would of course recommend Omido for some exhilerating Japanese food. But, I would also recommend Omido for anyone who lives in any part of NYC, for I believe Omido is not only a great Times Square restaurant, but it is a great NYC destination, warranting a trip to Midtown from wherever you are. So, for colorful, unique Japanese cuisine, Omido is one gem that sparkles.
1695 Broadway (bet. 53rd and 54th St.)
New York, NY 10019