**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/02/niko-...
I’ve been reading about Niko for some time as it has a bunch of well known people attached to it such as Hiro Sawatari who was formerly one of the top sushi chefs from Sushi Yasuda and Cobi Levy from defunct Charles. I was pretty excited to try it since I’m always looking for new good sushi places and Yasuda is my favorite sushi place in the city.
The restaurant is located on the second floor in the space that formerly housed the now defunct Honmura An (RIP, Honmura An was my favorite soba spot in the city). The décor is fairly minimalist with partially exposed brick walls. The front end is the table area and the back area is the bar and the sushi bar. It’s definitely got a bit of a hipper vibe than most sushi places as they have some music playing and the crowd is definitely a little more downtown chic.
I read on yelp about service problems, but our service was pretty good. Our waiters did seem a little over stretched, but that’s likely growing pains from just opening. Cobi came by and talked to us for a while and he was a nice guy.
We sat at the sushi bar in front of Nobu who is the 2nd sushi chef. He was an extremely nice guy who just moved here from LA. We talked to him quite a bit and he previously worked at Mori Sushi, which is arguably the best sushi place in LA. He met Hiro eating at Morimoto’s in Philadelphia when he was visiting a friend and that’s how he ended up working here.
Anyhow, onto the food:
- Tokyo Fried Chicken: This was just chicken karaage. However, I thought this was quite good. The chicken was tender and flavorful, wasn’t overly oily and the batter was nicely seasoned. It was served with a vinegar sauce and a sort of light sweet honey mustard, both sauces were good, but I preferred the vinegar sauce. I like simple fried foods prepared correctly, so this was right up my alley. 4.25/5
- Kanpachi (Yellowtail): This was from Japan. This was a good clean tasting piece of yellowtail, I liked it. 4/5
- Fluke: This was from North Carolina. Fluke isn’t my favorite cut of fish, but this was clean tasting and good as well. 4/5
- Big Eyed Tuna: This was interesting as it was from Ecuador and I’ve never had tuna from Ecuador. The meat was a bit firmer than most big eyed tuna I’ve had, but it had good flavor and tasted fresh. 4/5
- Japanese Mackerel: This was from Japan. This was excellent, it had the nice oily-ness that good mackerel has, wasn’t overly fishy and had great flavor, one of my favorite pieces of the night. 4.5/5
- Sea Bream: This was from Japan. This was interesting as I haven’t had sea bream that many times. It was a nice piece of fish that was pretty mild flavored. 4/5
- Sweet Potato Roll: This was interesting. It was a thin handroll with fried Japanese sweet potato, shiso and one other green vegetable which I’m forgetting right now. It was fried nicely and everything was fresh, but I wasn’t crazy about the combo of shiso and sweet potato. 3.75/5
- Blue Fin Toro: This was from Japan. This was excellent, another one of the best pieces of the night. The texture was “melt in your mouth” and the flavor was great. This was as good as any of the top sushi places in NY. 4.5/5
- Artic Char: I like artic char a lot and it was good here. Good clean flavors and nice texture. 4.25/5
- Shima Aji: This was a nice piece of shima aji (striped jack). Surprisingly flavorful, I should’ve asked where it was from. 4/5
- Umezuke Handroll: This was mashed umezuke (a type of pickled plum-like fruit) with shiso. I’m partial to ume because I grew up eating it, but I’m not sure how most people would feel about it as it’s fairly sour tasting, but it wasted good with the shiso. This was not a typical sushi dish, but I liked it nonetheless. 4/5
- Ikura Handroll: The ikura (salmon eggs) were nice and this was pretty standard, but good. 4/5
- Spanish Mackerel: This was from North Carolina. I liked this cut. It was very clean tasting and good texture. 4.25/5
- Unagi Shirayaki: This was from Japan. Unagi is fresh water eel, which is among my favorite sushi. Because of Hiro’s Yasuda heritage I was hoping this would be good. It was prepared simply with just some sea salt, which I like because you can taste the natural sweetness of the meat if it’s a good piece of eel. This piece was good, the eel had good texture and great flavor not quite as good as Yasuda’s but definitely some of the better unagi I’ve had in the city. 4.25/5
- Unagi: This was the same thing, but prepared with sauce. This was also good although I thought the piece with just salt was better. 4/5
Overall, I thought the food was very good. I think Nobu said that they’d be getting other varieties of fish soon, so that would be nice. Hopefully, they can fix some of the service problems that I read about on yelp as it’d be a shame if a place serving good food got taken down by service problems. I’d like to sit in front of Hiro next time to see how he is as well. I’d recommend trying this place out.
170 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012