Shinagawa: 157 East 33 St (b/t Lexington and Third Avenues), New York, NY; shinagawanyc.com.
We have a one-day work conference in Manhattan, so we take the train up with the hopes of having one good restaurant experience to post about. Shinagawa in midtown is the only place we tried on our short trip, and turns out to be a winner.
To get rocking, we order a Roku Club cocktail: Japanese gin, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, and an egg white. Sounds good, right? Love the use of eggs in Japanese cocktails. Not so fast: Turns out they’re out of raspberry syrup, so I scan the menu for a suitable substitute. Finding none, I turn to the sake menu, and am warned: They’re also out of all the Tyku sakes.
Okay. So we order get a Kirin Ichiban and a small carafe of Garyubai Sake (which isn’t listed on the online menu, linked below). Then:
- the garlic edamame appetizer;
- miso black cod (as an appetizer);
- King Crab Rainbow roll; and
- several sashimi à la carte, about which more below.
Coating edamame in minced garlic (and sea salt) would seem a no-brainer, but I don’t believe I’ve seen that before. It’s warm from the pan, good, and super-buttery, and by the end of the appetizer course my cloth napkin looks like it got dragged crosstown behind a leaky butter churn. Would do it all over again.
Having done all of two minutes of research online before choosing this place, one recommendation we saw (on Yelp, can’t locate it now) was for the miso black cod (image at top of post). Thanks for that; it’s excellent, served with a sweet-potato mash; mushroom cap (hiding under the greens in the pic); broccolini; roasted peppers; a light, sweet salmon-roe sauce; Japanese yam; and omnipresent shredded-cabbage garnish. Fantastic dish all around.
Now for the sashimi: sea bream, striped bass, and Japanese sea eel (anago). The rationale here, clearly, is that we like to try things you can’t find everywhere. And we have a rule about trying a new sushi place: Always order the eel — which usually means freshwater (unagi). Why not stretch a little, eel-wise. Unagi has a strong flavor supplemented by a strong sauce, and is served warm (otherwise we don’t come back). Anago is tender, sweet and tame in flavor compared to its freshwater cousin, and never served warm as sashimi. We should have ordered both.
See that wasabi in the photo above right? Shinagawa makes it in-house, adding green food coloring so that customers recognize that it’s wasabi (which isn’t really green, just dyed that way). Making-it-then-faking-it is smart because you don’t want people, including kids, putting gobs of wasabi in their gobs thinking it’s pickled ginger, the common Japanese garnish that natural wasabi more closely resembles.
So this place offers a distinctive menu. One could play it safe by ordering, oh, shrimp dumpling or vegetable tempura and tonkatsu (and a Kirin, for that matter, as we did), but then there would be little reason to come here — what with a hundred fair-to-middling Japanese restaurants nearby. So go, but bring your own raspberry syrup.