- scene: Enter Brushstroke, and turn right behind a curtain to find eight Sushi-philes seated at Mr. Ichimura's bleached wood sushi bar
- sip: Brushstroke's creative cocktails can be ordered (ahem, the Hommage), or else a wonderful sake selection served in glass teapots, wine, and Japanese beer (including Coedo, which we were THRILLED to see)
- savor: Omakase only, bitches
- sit: There's only 8 seats, and Mr. Ichimura is so meticulous he makes sure the staff spaces them appropriately
- spend: $$$$
- address: 30 Hudson Street (at Duane Street)
- phone number: (212) 513-7141
- website: www.davidbouley.com
The Pants visited Brushstroke over a year ago, and found that the bar area there was odd… great design, but the space didn’t attract a bar-menu type of crowd, nor would it be a place you’d go for a drink before dinner besides Brushstroke. I have no idea when, but sometime in the recent past, Chef Ichimura took over and turned the Brushstroke bar space into an 8-seat sushi bar. The “hidden,” tiny, and unexpected sushi bar location is similar to the 3-Michelin-starred sushi outposts across the world in Japan, and as soon as Pete Wells uncovered Ichimura to the foodie world with his review back in September, I couldn’t wait to plop myself down in front of Mr. Ichimura and sample his magic.
Getting a reservation wasn’t a simple task, so make sure you plan ahead – there are basically two seatings where they stagger the times of the 8 lucky guests – so although 9PM sounds late, there will definitely be people arriving after you… and you may even be annoyed, as I was, when you aren’t getting Ichimura’s undivided attention! Another important thing to note – I have batted my eyelashes at every sushi chef from NYC to Japan, and the masters just do NOT care… except Ichimura; he may be the most precious and engaging sushi chef on the planet.
Dinner is a set Omakase; Ichimura will personally ask if you have any preferences or allergies/dislikes, and then offers to start the meal off with crab chawanmushi, which you do not want to decline. Although chawanmushi is technically an egg custard, the bowl presented in front of you is more like a soup (and EXTREMELY hot, so don’t sear your tongue like I did), and the tender crab just melts in your mouth. After this came a sampler plate, which included 6 little bites: monkfish liver, a mushroom salad, a fancy seaweed-type salad, a clam, trout caviar, and a smokey piece of cooked toro. Everything was great, but at this point, Mr. Ichimura had started slicing our sashimi and I was ready to rock (and roll, haha). I almost forgot to mention that with this sampler comes a small bowl with a large piece of uni, in a salty water that only accentuates the awesome flavors of this special roe.
The first round of sashimi was mostly white fish, about 5 different varieties with two pieces of each, and then 3 tuna varieties swiftly replaced their spots. The toro, cut into little blocks, may have been the best I have tasted outside of Japan. After this, Mr. Ichimura handed us pieces of sushi, and even presented soy sauce dishes which is generally a big no-no in the serious sushi world. Upon asking him, he laughed and told me he will let me know which he recommends using soy sauce for so I didn’t have to worry about offending him.
Besides one of the best pieces of uni I have ever eaten, adorned with a dollop of freshly grated wasabi, we were obsessed with a piece of baby red snapper. Something about this particular fish was magical, and although we also enjoyed the more traditional “edo” style pieces (the chef cures them himself which lends a vinegary, smokey taste) and toro, this white fish stole the show. Mr. Ichimura asked us if we wanted any repeats when we were done, so of course we ordered another taste of our favorites (uni, toro, and the baby red snapper).
At this point, the teapots of sake and overall sushi high made us giddy, so we ordered dessert. Although the Pants usually skips the sweet stuff, we were intrigued by the Mirin and Soy Sauce Ice Cream and decided to give it a try. Once put in front of us, Mr. Ichimura came over and placed some fresh wasabi on the soy sauce ice cream, smiled, and told us to trust him. I’d probably trust him with my life! This was an excellent and unique twist to a mainly traditional omakase dinner.
I’m not sure everyone will agree, or even understand Ichimura unless you are a totally sushi whore like me; the sushi couldn’t be fresher, but there are no bells and whistles beyond that to justify the steep price tag. But if I were you, I’d pick up the phone and get your tush onto one of those 8 seats as soon as you can!