Heck, if tonight's meal was any indication, I'd rather eat at Sono than just about any upscale place I've frequented lately in Manhattan.
I had read Jonathan Gold and William Grimes's positive reviews in Gourmet and the NY Times, and although both found the restaurant exciting, I inferred from both reviews, probably incorrectly, that chef Tadashi Ono was as much working out aesthetic principles more than striving for deliciousness (sort of a Japanese chef equivalent of Lars von Trier).
Five of us visited Sono last night and had a fabulous meal from start to finish, with lovely, understated service, copious elbow room (another NYC restaurant that rewards parties of more than four with more space), and fabulous food.
Although I sampled most of the dishes, I achieved that rare state of bliss in which I actually preferred all of my own selections to my compadres'. That said, I tasted nothing that was less than delicious.
I love Nobu Next Door (never been to Nobu), but although Sono might be lumped in with Nobu and other Japanese/Asian-fusion restaurants, Ono's work is quite different. Not one of the sauces was too sweet; not one tasted heavy or even dense; not one failed to accentuate the star of that course, whether it was heavenly rack of lamb or a humble slice of mackeral.
The cold appetizer tasting chef's selection is a fantastic way to sample Ono's subtlety; follow it with crab cakes made without flour, but with vegetable roots and tofu, in a heavenly broth. The rack of lamb with is every bit as good as described by Jonathan Gold in his Gourmet review (which, along with others, is on the Sono site linked below). The aroma of the lamb, after the waiter unshackled it from its clay prison, not only tortured us but at least one other table. But the spoils went to us.
The sticky rice pudding (a firm textured pudding) w/coconut ice cream) didn't taste Thai, but was almost as rewarding as a trip to Lotus of Siam.
Thanks, Rebekka of Paris, for mentioning that this is your favorite restaurant in NYC. Reading her rave, and remembering the Gold and Grimes reviews is what drove me to try Sono in the first place.