Located on the border of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, the underground venue charges $89 for just an hour-long party.
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Calling Sushi on Me one exceptional omakase restaurant would be as absurd as leaving out rapper Common as one Oscar winner. In addition to being a famous hip-hop artist, he is also a producer and actor with too many roles to name – Italian security chief
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– Sushi on Me does not fit into the usual framework of a strong Japanese menu place. It’s better to think of the Queens spot as something else entirely: a free-flowing house party, full of insults and booze, serving lavish raw fish over rice.
In a city full of sushi shops that trigger a big purchase alert on your credit card, Sushi on Me on the border of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst is a more affordable spot where the only accepted currency is cash. It’s also a live jazz club that simultaneously channels the energy of a Meatpacking District diner and the warmth of an Irish bar. And it’s the opposite of a Thai place, where the chefs drink almost as much as the customers, which is quite an achievement, since the tipping policy means that the diners themselves drink more than they eat. The flat fee for all this is $89, but before you tip the staff, drop $20 on the piano and dread your bank charging you for using the bodega ATM across the street.
Frankly: Nobody comes here just for the sushi, so I want to share some of the things I experienced at this iconic place. As promised, the curse is:
“Enjoy sushi as the sign outside says” – Thai-born chef Atip “Palm” Tangjantuk officially announces the start of dinner service. The mother of top sushi chefs is economical with her words and dinner services, so the food is the focus, not herself. Tangjantuk, on the other hand, likes to shout, especially when setting four-syllable words.
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“In other places it’s called fatty tuna; Here it’s called fatty tuna” – the chef again. The kitchen is noisy. Tangjantuk works the room as a confident DJ who knows when to drop the bass.
“The shit that was on this spoon…” – a patron with a goatee who lost his bite after eating the aforementioned fatty tuna. His companion jumped in to help finish the sentence, “That was stupidly good.” On the spoon was a light toro puree with sea urchin. It tasted like the soft blue of the ocean.
“Together we rise” – the chef grills salmon in front of you with a little rosemary and maybe, uh, something else. The spicy mist that fills the room doesn’t smell like anything anyone would want to eat, but the sweet-and-savory tamarind and shallot sauce—a loose riff on Miang Kam leaf wrappers—saves the dish.
“Hey, Serpico, stop trying to steal my girl,” a man with a goatee yelled back when I spoke to a daytime talk show digital producer who was celebrating a birthday with his family.
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“Anyone driving tonight?” – the chefs after announcing the all alcohol policy. Everyone nods, including the guy from Long Island who later admits he fired at least 10 shots before dinner was over.
“Boss” is the marking on the cup that one of the chefs drinks from. It’s full of Budweiser.
“Our motto is drink first, eat later,” the chef debunks the conventional wisdom that sushi, especially salad, should be eaten seconds after it’s finished in the kitchen. The inevitable result is slightly soggy nori wraps, and frankly, that’s okay.
Clockwise, from top: Blowtorching unagi chef; chef Atip “Palm” Tangyantuk toasted the room; Miss Maybelle and Jazz Age Artists provide live entertainment.
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If New York’s sushi houses are more austere spaces, where wary patrons come to pray to Bluefin Toro—and show off their knowledge of the benign to the malevolent—Sushi on Me is a powerful speaker and a private event in the basement. a cellar was made for dozens of queens at the same time. There are four evenings, seven evenings a week. Each customer dines at a long bar. The dinner starts with several sashimi dishes and ends with 12 pieces of nigiri served at once. About an hour after the meal starts, you pay the bill and reserve a place for another group.
Other outlets have previously adopted a closed omakase model. Both Jones’s Sushi and Boo’s Sushi, where Tangjantuk worked, offer a quick experience and under $100. However, none of these places managed to explode with the shared transparency of this Queens space. The experience has its roots in being among strangers in a pub full of Yankees before they went their separate ways into the night.
Alcohol promotes social interaction. The servers fill your shot glasses so quickly and disciplinedly that it’s hard to notice you’ve had a drink at all. They don’t tell about the producers or the man who polishes each grain of rice. They do, however, tell you when to toast and clink glasses with strangers, which happens every five minutes or so when people sit closer to you than passengers on the F train.
At the beginning of the meal, the waiter can put the raw shrimp in a small ramekin. Shiro ebi has a hint of sweetness and texture that is indistinguishable from ripe and unripe grapes. It’s sitting in a sauce that screams peanuts, although the employee’s description of the ponzu sesame can’t be made out because he’s competing with the live entertainment.
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While most modern sushi places cover things up so you don’t get distracted by too much fish, the Sushi on Me crew occasionally hires a 1920s jazz trio to dance to a risque kazoo-sounding trumpet beat. add your food. This all begs the obvious question: how good is sushi? The answer is: Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s just okay.
Clockwise from top: dinner, chef serving sushi, piece of fatty tuna with caviar.
At Sushi on Me, you won’t necessarily encounter pearls of rice that reach their own apotheosis. They don’t stick to the tongue like delicate salmon like the legendary establishments. Nor does rice always contain Goldilocks delight; In one case the grains were very soft. But on other nights, everything takes center stage, light vinegar rice cutting through the rich tuna belly.
Molcha has a solid marine sweetness and seems to melt on the tongue like a soft meringue. A slice of spring sea bass wags the tongue with lime peel, which has an almost tropical aroma. A sprinkling of yuzu and truffle salt (barely) offsets the sweet oils of the salmon belly, while a dash of garlic-chili sauce enhances the natural umami and dripping oils of the seared albacore.
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One note: When Chef Tangjantuk does the cooking himself, as he usually does, things taste even better. On my first visit, one of the chefs gave the stove to a patron who went overboard with everyone’s tuna for about 30 seconds.
The last piece will probably be a medium glove. The nori steel has a subtle crunch, while the toro and grilled chicken inside seem to melt like butter over rice and jam on toast.
Every time I’ve tasted them, the loose Uni wrapper has had nori, but the Hokkaido chicken still has the sugar and silkiness of the authentic seafood pan Cota. Just as the magic of sushi is finding harmonies in ingredients that transcend their sometimes austere servings, dinner here is more than austere technique; it’s all about eating those imperfect arm laps while the singer known as Miss Mabel stands at the back of the room rapping “Minnie the Mermaid” and “Seaweed Bungalow.”
Shortly after performing “Happy Birthday” one night – this is always a guarantee – a guy with a goatee stepped forward and went up to the producer sitting next to me to talk about his Instagram account and suggest sending a DM. coming “No pressure,” he added. A young professional who said he contracted COVID-19 in the spring of 2020,
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