Very Good Japanese Fare at Sushi Seki Times Square – Kappo Room and Mini Omakase
It’s been a while since I’ve dined at Sushi Seki Times Square. What I liked when dining there was primarily for their sushi when I’m in the neighborhood for dinner (may it be for dinner before a show or if I’m meeting up with friends who are near the west side of Manhattan).
Recently, this spacious flagship location of the Sushi Seki restaurants started a mini omakase menu at the main floor bar area. If anyone is aware of what an sushi omakase is, these are the chef’s choice of various nigiri sushi that tends to be ten or more pieces for over a few hundred dollars per person, not including drinks, tax and tip. For Sushi Seki Times Square, it’s available from Tuesday through Saturday and seating starts at 5:00pm and last seating is at 10:30pm. There’s 7 seats only and the set price is $55 per person (includes 6 pieces nigiri and 2 hand rolls or 1 hand roll and mini soba/udon noodles). This kind of meal is ideal if you want to experience omakase at a good price point and you can get in and out quickly for a delicious pre-theater meal or after the show.
The cocktail menu is based on Japanese ingredients like ginger, matcha green tea, lychee, sakura (cherry blossoms). My friend who went with me that evening had the Matcha mixed with rum, coconut, kuro-mitsu with a kinako rim. It’s pleasantly coconutty without being too dominant and the matcha tea was just right that it didn’t make the drink too bitter. I stuck with a creamy, biscuit flavored Domaine François Baur Crémant d’Alsace that works beautifully throughout the omakase.
The omakase started with a wonderful small appetizer of a beautifully decorated wooden box filled with sweet, creamy uni (sea urchin) and briny ikura (salmon roe).
As far as the mini omakase turned out, it’s overall enjoyable and tasty. A few of the nigiri we had were creative like King Salmon with onion, and seared tomato that doesn’t sound like it would work on sushi but it does and the bluefin tuna with tofu purèe was probably my favorite nigiri of the six we had. The tuna was lean but it’s rich with flavor and the tofu purèe made that sushi delectable from the seasoning the chef has added. The other nigiri were fatty tuna (chutoro) topped with mirin (creamy, fatty bite), kanpachi (Amberjack) topped with jalapeno with soy sauce (silky, clean tasting fish with a sharp spicy bite), and baby yellowtail dotted with jalapeno purèe (akin to the amberjack but it’s a touch sweeter with a peppery bite). The two hand rolls we had that evening were a delightful spicy chutoro that was spicy enough to not overwhelm the fatty tuna and the spicy scallop roll where the scallops were chopped and mixed in a spicy mayonnaise sauce with bits of crunchy tempura.
The pacing of this omakase was good. Not too soon but the chef gave us enough time to enjoy the nigiri without us needing to wait too long for the next piece of sushi. The portions felt right that my friend and I felt full enough and definitely not hungry.
If you’re in the mood for primarily cooked Japanese food, the Kappo Room offers a tasting menu or a la carte to choose from. The dining room is lovely with the large island seating in the center of the room and comfortable leather banquettes and chairs that surround the room. It feels relatively intimate despite the fact there’s space to move around between tables.
In regards to drinks for this meal, my friend had the Myoga (ginger) that’s mixed with vodka, sudachi and ginger beer. It’s a take on the classic Moscow Mule that is slightly sweet and refreshing and replacing the lime, we have the Japanese version of that fruit sudachi. Since the bar is stocked with a very solid selection of Japanese whiskies, I had the Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu “The Floor Malted.” This whisky has a classic bourbon nose – sweet with honey, pears, eucalyptus, lemon, spice, vanilla and caramel. The malt comes through very clearly, with cereal notes. Pepper picks up on the spice front, as does some some oaky bitterness. Water helps slightly with burn and improves the texture, but not the faint bitterness. It’s an impressive, fairly young whisky.
We started off with slow poached Hokkaido octopus that was served cold (as stated on the menu). The octopus was tender with enough chew but what surprised us was how intensely flavorful of seafood especially with the gelatin that’s coated around the chunks of octopus tentacle. The braised daikon slice added some sweetness and the scallions added some fresh, onion-y punch.
The seasonal rice (for that evening, it was red snapper) with a side dish of soy braised root vegetables arrived shortly. It’s delicious despite it doesn’t look like much since the seasoned fish is mixed into the rice. It’s a very comfort food type of dish since my mother makes a similar Chinese rice dish (it’s called clay pot rice) typically during the fall and winter seasons. The root vegetables added subtle crunchy texture and sweetness.
The beef negimaki, thinly sliced rib eye beef rolled with scallions were good but needed to be eaten quickly before the super thin beef would overcook as it sits on the plate over time. The six-hour braised Berkshire pork belly was sublime. It’s like eating a sweet, soy flavored pork butter that sat on room temperature kind of silky tenderness and we didn’t need a knife to separate the meat. The slices of poached pear accentuated the sweetness of the pork belly.
The kitchen really knows how to fry their food well. The fried oysters that’s presented in a large oyster shell filled with tomato tartar. The oysters were delicately crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. The tomato tartar sauce added some gentle, sweet acidity. The tempura of large black tiger shrimp and anago (sea eel) were great. The fry coating was crisp, not too greasy and they were cooked perfectly. Dip that seasoned salt and they were incredible bites.
If you have any room for dessert, they do have a yuzu panna cotta and crème brûlée. Thankfully, they are not large portions but they satisfied the sweet tooth without going crazy with sugar. The yuzu panna cotta had great citrus flavor of the fruit but I thought the texture was too firm. The crème brûlée was very tasty and had the classic glass-like burnt caramel shell on the top to crack with a spoon and the custard was indeed creamy and delightful.
Overall, service from both areas were very good. Attentive when it needs to be and if you have questions, the server is happy to answer it. The food were very tasty and portioned just right for what you’re paying for and it’s within a few blocks from most theaters in the Theater District to catch your show of the evening.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the gallery below or CLICK HERE for the photo set:
Sushi Seki Times Square
365 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
Tel. +1 (212) 262-8880