Seven years ago, Sotohiro Kosugi rolled into sushi-inured Manhattan from Atlanta, impressing and surprising even the most hardened of Japanese food aficionados with his creations at Soto. As a third-generation sushi chef, he’s steeped in tradition, yet he also has a flair for the modern, as indicated by his presence at Madrid Fusion a few years ago. What all this adds up to is signature dishes unlike any other in town.
The kampachi tartare ($18) demonstrates both the chef’s painstaking skill and his finesse with flavor surprises. For the dish, a round of achingly fresh chopped kampachi (Hawaiian yellowtail) is topped with zippy wasabi tobiko (roe) and encircled with white kelp (mellower than its green cousin). Meanwhile, two clouds of soy foam sit at the other end of a rectangular plate.
Eating the dish should be as exacting as its creation: use a small spoon to slice through the layers of tobiko, fish and kelp before scooping up a dab of the soy foam. Upon eating, a soft crunch of pine nuts, hidden amid the fish, emerges, along with the essences of saltiness, spiciness and brininess. Above all, there’s the lingering sense of umami — an indescribable flavor layer that causes everything to come together.
With two Michelin stars, and a 28/30 rating from the Zagat Survey, the understated West Village restaurant is one of the city’s highest rated Japanese spots. One look at the clientele — fierce neighborhood loyalists, Japanese tourists and off-duty Michelin-starred chefs (Dan Barber and Anita Lo are fans) — reveals that the city’s most refined palates treat Soto as their own sliver of sushi paradise.
357 Sixth Ave.