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Jewel Bako


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  • 3 weeks later...

robert and Susan brown and I had dinner at Jewel Bako's sushi bar tonight. While I was very happy to spend time with robert and Susan, and the food was good-plus, the food was not as memorable as that on my first visit.

The meal began with anu amuse of a pasty, creamy, grainy tofu-like mixture laced with diced slightly sweet baby persimmons (tasting almost like sweet carrots or yams). Apparently, this dish was in the Kyoto style. An appropriate introduction.

(1) Seared Japanese Bonito Slices with radish and juliennes of onions and chives. This dish was served in a beautiful lettuce-shaped, green bowl that had detailing in the ceramic reminiscent of the lattice-like structure of certain cabbage leaves. The bonito was a relatively strong-flavored fish, with a meaty-like texture almost. The accompaniments for this bonito were dominated by the celery, which added crunch and which were accompanied by very limited amounts of the area near the skin of cucumber stalks. The saucing was jus-based, with dominant notes of ginger. Overall, appropriate.

Our dining party drank Chateaux Carbonnieux, a white Bordeaux, from 1999 ($50). robert and I later switched to Nikko Kirfuri Nigorizake "Smoky Mist" (unfiltered, milky, rich textured sake from Tochigo prefecture, 300 ml for $25). The Smoking Mist sake was different from any other sake I have sampled. :huh:

(2) O'Toro with creamy avocado sauce, and oscetra -- This was appropriate, as previously described. I could be wrong, but the O'Toro part of the caviar column appeared less "tall", and there seemed to be a bit more of the avocado puree, than previously. This time, on top of the column was a nice "criss-cross" pattern formed by hemispherical-shaped slices of radish and cucumber.

(3) Chawanmushi -- This time, the chawanmushi had integrated notes of uni, which had presumably been incorporated into the delicate steamed egg. There were also small scallops suspended inside the egg. Initially, I deemed the temperature of the steamed egg silghtly cooler than I would have liked, but I began to understand upon sampling more of the dish. The dish had the sensations of the sea. There was a little bit of caviar on top of the chawanmushi, but it could not be meaningfully sampled.

(4) Steamed freshwater eel with raw diced avodao, cucumber and radish and vinegar gelee -- This dish was alright, although the sweetish, wine-and-soy-based saucing of the dish was a bit mundane. The interesting part of the saucing was the inclusion of small bits of crunchy materials that our dining party posited might have been seed of an unspeciifed fruit. However, we were advised these were bits of crispy rice. The freshwater eel also had a bit of this crispy rice on it, and was appropriate. The vinegar gelee was quite balanced and appropriate. Perhaps there was slightly more sweetness in this dish than I would have subjectively preferred.

(5) Soup -- same as last time (see above write-up)

(6) Sashimi -- This was good-plus-plus, and included: uni on a cucumber section, Japanese mackerel (I liked this), Bonito, salmon, beak clam (?), needlefish (rather bland), Japanese black bass (quite good), belt fish (with a graphite-colored, interesting-looking skin section), Hamachi, scallop, otoro. Susan later kindly offered me a bit of her sarry sushi. The sushi chef also provided another piece of otoro, now in sushi form and slightly cooked and exhibiting nice fatitiness.

(7) After an average pre-dessert of lychee sorbet, we received a mochi dessert containing three disks of mochi formed into a 3D circle (like pie wedges) -- chocolate; sesame (nice); and Japanese white peach (poor). The dessert did not have the effect of providing a comfortable end to our meal.

Overall, the appetizers had been noticeably stronger during my first meal. The sashimi was about the same as the first meal, although one of the sushi chefs was being very generous to the browns as he carefully handed over pieces of sushi, one by one and as made. :laugh:

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Cabrales, consider posting the cost of above referenced meal, if you feel comfortable. Was this an omakase? Is the practice like Morimoto restaurants where one specifies the desired level of spending and luxury ingredients are incorporated accordingly or is it more of a set price affair?

Despite the traces of disappointment in your last experience, is JB still your subjectively favored place to take in sushi, and other Japanese preparations?

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ajay -- Our dining party did choose the omakase ($75 level, which confers four appetizers, usually one of which may be a soup, and either sushi or sashimi; a $100 level omakase provides the same number of appetizers and both sushi and sashimi, apparently). The $75 omakase level is appropriate for me, although it is not the highest level. I consider Jewel Bako among the stronger sushi establishments in the city, together with Sushi Yasuda. The appetizers are slightly more composed, and more non-Japanese cuisine-like in general sentiment (although Japanese in flavors) than dishes one might find at Kuruma (spelling), Yasuda or Blue Ribbon. Interestingly, JB is slightly more authentic than a facility like Bond Street.

I wouldn't say that my experience at JB was not satisfactory. Perhaps it did not meet my heightened expectations, which had been formed upon my first visit to the restaurant. :wink: I believe the browns liked their JB meal at least as much as I did. :laugh:

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  • 1 month later...

My wife and I had another terrific meal at Jewel Bako last night, which I wasn't going to write up, but a few things changed my mind-

1. JB is onto a third head chef- Yoshida Kazuo, who is pictured and quoted in many of the articles concerning JB is gone, replaced by ?- (didn't get his name), who previously had assisted Yoshida-san.

2. Three new (at least to us) dishes -

-"live" jellyfish served with marinated seaweed in vinegar, alongside fresh (as opposed to farmed) herring roe served in a block sandwiched around seaweed.

-steamed anago wrapped in seaweed wrapped alongside savory plum jelly, both accented by a sweet-ish sauce.

These two dishes were remarkable in three ways- the "alongside" pairings were incongruous except for the similarities in texture- the herring roe and the jellyfish were chewy, almost tough (in a good way)- the steamed eel and jelly were baby-food in texture. Each were delicious and having the soft served after the hard was an excellent progression.

- these were all the work of the new chef- a nice beginning!

The final dish was a four tropical fruit "gateau" baked by Payard. light and simple, with distinct fruit flavors- a great end.

The rest of the meal was "normal" JB- wonderfully fresh fish, great hospitality etc.

It's safe to say that Jack and Grace have worked their philosophy into the next chef and the results are outstanding.



edited since I freaked out and posted this b4 I was finished.

Edited by Charles Smith (log)
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I was also at JB last night with a CH'er.

We plumped for the $75 Omakase and I have to say that it was one of the single best meals that I have ever had in the US.

Sitting at the cramped bar was not a problem as the floor show of watching the head chef prepare the sushi and sashimi was worth the money in itself.

The meal went something like this ( working from a bad memory )

Salad of micro greens - sharply dressed in a wasabi dressing - quite wonderful

Tuna Tartare with advocado dressing - quite an extrordinary flavour to the dish and a richness and smoothness that I had never encountered before

Live jellyfish with herring roe marinated in soy, sake and mirrin - The roe was good but the jelly fish was unlike anything I have ever tried before with both a gelatinous quality ( Er! It probably should have given the name ) and a crunch.

Sashimi Platter - two types of yellow tail and two tpes of snapper. Oe of the snappers was a little tough for me but the rest were sensational

Miso soup with dumplings made of ground yellowtail - Described by the owner as "Japanese Matzo Ball soup" Rich, delicious and the dumplings had a real earthy quality that belied their fishy origins

There then followed a host of sushi and I may not recall them all but they included

Parrot fish




Seared tuna

Live octopus

Sea Urchin


Interestingly enough the Octopus and Squid which I normally crave was less successful that the fish. I do not think that it was bad, but rather the fish was so superb that it overshadowed them.

The final sushi was the tuna seared by blowtorch. This was the highlight for me, so fatty and unctuous, I think if I had cloed my eyes, I would have sworn I was eating bacon. Quite wonderful

A pre dessert of sorbet was fine and was followed by a pastry made exclusively for the restaurant by Payard ( sp?) This is the place on the upper east right?

To drink we chose a bottle of Baptiste Tokay Pinot Gris which I thought worked very well but was a bit steep at $55

The service was exemplary and friendly and the room while small was beautifully laid out. I wont say how much it cost all told as as I was treating someone who might read this. It was not cheap but not bad value considering that we were there for some 3 hrs and there was not one dish that showed less than a passion for freshness and skill in execution

After so many meals on my last few trips to NY that were, to be frank, slightly Blah, this was a treasure. I had heard much and all of it good and it did not disappoint.



Edited by Simon Majumdar (log)
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Well it wasn't wriggling about if that is what you mean. That is just the way it was descibed

The serving was four slices of jellyfish served on a seaweed base with soy sauce . They were served with a dish of herring roe ( marinated as described below )

The jellyfish was also slightly sour and I am not sure if that was down to a marinade ( I did not find out ) but after the initial gelatinous touch to the mouth there was a real crunch to it. A unique texture

I am not sure I could have eaten too much of it, but in the context of the Omakase it was excellent


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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahhhh (a sigh of contentment).....I think that if I could eat at one restaurant, once a week, for the rest of my life, it would probably be JB.

Dinner tonight, at JB with g. and yvonne johnson. We sat at the sushi bar.

JB has rearranged their omakase menu since the last time I was there. Now there are two levels, one at $50 and up -- just sushi or sashimi, and one at $75 which is the chef's omakase tasting menu. We chose the latter option, so without further ado, here's a recap:

1. enoki mushroom caps in gelee, shiso leaf garnish

2. salad of arugula, chives and greens, wild mushrooms, cha-soba noodles

3. o-toro tartare, osetra caviar, avocado topping (radish and kirby cucumber garnish)

4. wild herring roe sashimi, with seaweed (topped with bonito flakes); jellyfish sashimi, with seaweed, served in a cup (topped with gomasio)

5. yuzu-infused broth, scallions, ground yellowtail dumplings (slice of yuzu floating in the broth)

6. sashimi

7. sushi (in no particular order): a) toro, marinated in sake for three hours, topped with grated ginger; b) parrotfish, sauced with soy glaze and yuzu pepper; c) amberjack, sauced with a soy glaze; d) ground mackerel, topped with minced ginger, scallions and gomasio; e) white sweet shrimp ("sweeter than your normal ebi", according to the chef); f) giant clam sushi; g) anago (sea eel) sushi -- think of unagi, but without the customary soy/mirin glaze and uncooked; h) enoki mushroom sushi -- enoki mushrooms, broiled for a few minutes; i) seared o-toro sushi (this was seared with a blowtorch; the experience was like eating silken butter -- to die for); j) King River salmon (from New Zealand); k) Japanese grunt fish.

8. Coconut-litchi sorbet.

9. Dessert by Francois Payard -- green tea meringue, enclosing an exotic fruit filling.

Accompanying this feast was a sake tasting (although yvonne and g. can probably attest to this as I declined, noting my notorious alcohol sensitivity). Of particular note is the special dessert sake, which is an ume plum sake (according to Jack, a "rice vodka"), but I'll let the johnsons describe THAT set of experiences.

All told, a wonderful evening (both dinner and company).


edit: added mention of grunt fish.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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ground yellowtail dumplings

That sounds a lot like gefilte fish...

Jason Perlow, Co-Founder eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

Foodies who Review South Florida (Facebook) | offthebroiler.com - Food Blog (archived) | View my food photos on Instagram

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I ate here last week with two frriends. We BYO'd and we drank an '82 Krug that was off the Richter Scale and a white Loire wine that was a tad sweet for the food I thought. But this was my first time at the restaurant. Robert Brown has been raving about it and is so fond of the place that he was eating there a few times a week before he went to France for the month of December. And one of the people I went with has been raving about it as well. So I was eagerly awaiting the experience.

Well you know the rest of the story because I left there wondering what all the fuss was about? I mean don't get me wrong, my meal was very good. But what about this meal made it so different then other top sushi places? I like Sushi Yasuda much more then this. The highlight of our dinner was Nobu sitting at the table next to us. He was very relaxed and friendly. We also had the $75 omakase.

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I had a similar experience but didn't do the omakase (or the Krug). I liked the ambiance (and the jazz music background). I'd like to go back and try the omakase, but my general thought was that I could spend more and be in Sushi Heaven (Yasuda) or spend much less and have almost as good a meal at ISO (I know it's not the board's favorite, but it's one of mine if you know what to order).


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ground yellowtail dumplings

That sounds a lot like gefilte fish...

More like a Japanese version of Chinese fish balls.

Gefilte fish and pickled herring are two things I try to stay away from....ESPECIALLY the herring. (Em, disgusting comes to mind.)



PS. they had fresh wasabi, which was NOT added to our bill. also the sushi is handed out piece by piece, as opposed to all at once -- unless you're NOT sitting at the sushi bar (in which case it comes out all at once). This is a distinct change from their previous arrangement.

JB is a very good value for the amount of money we spent last night. Its Sushi Heaven to me as far as I'm concerned. I like the ambiance, the attention to detail and the initimate quarters. The food speaks for itself. But I suppose its not for everyone.


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I personally feel that JB is slightly less diverse in selection and not as high quality.  I must say,however, that it has quite a following so I'm sure there are dissenting opinions out there.

I try my best to give value for the money, but must admit, I sometimes fall short. :biggrin:

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A very fine meal with Soba last night. I think Soba has captured it wonderfully. There were fishes I'd never had before and the meal was memorable for the contrasting textures and flavors--e.g., the crunchy mackeral roe along with the nicely chewy jelly fish. I paricularly liked the lovely salad with watercress, and chives. The sashimi of various cuts of tuna was spectacular as they also had so different textures. The sushi, presented one by one: toro, NZ salmon, amberjeck (like nothing I've had before--it was like chewing velvet in a pleasurable way) were excellent though I was getting full by the time the giant clam appeared.

Payard's green tea, light sponge dessert with tropical fruit is a lovely conclusion.

Sake tasting: we had around 6 or 7 poured into old small glaases and on one occasion small wooden cups: the first was the most pronounced--cloudy, thick and not really to my taste, but interesting nonetheless. They had names that lent an adventurous streak in the dinker. e.g., "Death by the warrior" or something like. My favorites were a clear clean one, and the dessert sake which had a floral smell.

Jack Lamb the owner was very helpful throughout.

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I ate here last week with two frriends. We BYO'd and we drank an '82 Krug that was off the Richter Scale and a white Loire wine that was a tad sweet for the food I thought.

Steve P -- What corkage was charged for each bottle? The quality of the sushi/sashimi course is not necessarily better than that at Yasuda (particularly a la carte Yasuda, when one asks the chefs or looks at the item on the little a la cartewhite sheet that have stars next to them marked by hand). However, the plated appetizers are fairly interesting at JB and that is the distinguishing feature of JB in my mind. It's unclear whether I currently prefer JB to Yasuda, though, or vice versa. :hmmm:

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