American chefs long ago embraced yuzu, but few have fallen for it like Jean-Georges Vongerichten. At Perry Street, lovers of the fragrant Japanese citrus fruit can order a lunch that features a bluefin tuna burger with yuzu pickles, white chocolate mousse with yuzu sorbet and basil oil, and house-made yuzu-cherry soda. Nightfly did just that, and loved it: “It was a yuzu hat trick!”
Closer to its roots, yuzu turns up at some of the city’s better sushi bars, where its natural affinity for seafood makes it a beautiful match. Look for madai, a Japanese variety of snapper, topped with sea salt and a drizzle of yuzu juice. No shoyu required, notes oonth.
The fresh fruit itself is briefly available here in winter, and it isn’t cheap–hounds have spotted yuzu for $1.50 to $3 apiece at Japanese markets such as Sunrise Mart, Katagiri, and Mitsuwa in New Jersey. These stores also carry yuzu kosho, a sprightly, chutney-like condiment from Kyushu made of yuzu zest, chile pepper, and sea salt. Such simple ingredients yield surprisingly complex flavor, observes Silverjay. Tabetai yo likes to sprinkle it on Japanese-style chicken wings in place of the more common shichimi togarashi (seven-spice chile mix).
There isn’t a citrus fruit on earth that can’t be squeezed into a cocktail, and yuzu is no exception. Morimoto mixes some terrific ones; Nightfly recommends the Thunder Lightning, made with shochu, ginger beer, and fresh yuzu juice. Hedeh showcases the fruit in Asian-inflected takes on the margarita and the Cosmopolitan. Teetotalers can drink their yuzu infused in tea, like the alluring version brewed at Panya Bakery.
And for dessert, the fancy Japanese confectioner Minamoto Kitchoan makes jewel-like, deeply flavorful sweets from sugar-preserved yuzu peel, says kerokaoru.
Perry Street [Greenwich Village]
176 Perry St., at West St., Manhattan
Sunrise Mart [East Village]
4 Stuyvesant St. #2, near 3rd Ave., Manhattan
Sunrise Mart [Soho]
494 Broome St., near W. Broadway, Manhattan
Katagiri [Midtown East]
224 E. 59th St. #1, between 3rd and 2nd Aves., Manhattan
Panya Bakery [East Village]
10 Stuyvesant St., between 3rd and 2nd Aves., Manhattan