I had a fantastic meal yesterday evening at Jewel Bako. Sat at the sushi bar, and was served by the sushi chef (i belive he's new) and Jack (owner). Unfortunatly, I cannot remember every single item, particularly the fish names, but will try to give you some color:
* starts with a mixed appetizer or toro tartare (not as nice as Nobu, identical to Tomoe for example), small oyster (briming w/ flavor), fish liver made to look like foie gras (tasty) and a kind of smoked fish (very good)
* then to a daily special: black mackerel w/ onions... a little bit like a seviche. Very good
* soup: split peas with tofu - low point of the meal. I think pea soup goes much better with smoked ham...however I have to say I'm not a big fan of tofu. regardless, pretty bland dish
* Sashimi plate: about 10 different kind of sashimi, including 3 kinds of hamashi, 2 kinds of toro, white salmon, a small and very tasty little octopus. Comes with freshly grinded wasabi (grinded over shark skin). All in very good. I would say on par with Seki.
* Hot mushrooms in aluminium foil with a sake/plum wine broth. Very good. Somewhat similar to the hot mushroom dish at Nobu. Broth was very flavorfull. An excellent dish.
* Sushi. I had 8 pieces, while my neighbours stopped at 5 :). This was the high high point of an already good experience. These are somewhat sophisticated sushis, a little bit "a la Gari", but with a finner, more difined taste. To start with, I think the ingredients are slightly of higher quality - for example the toro piece was the most good looking one I ever saw (although I don't profess to be an expert). The chef spends a lot of time making each and every sushi, carefully adding a spice, tapping or cutting the fish in a meticulous was, or charring a piece with a blowtorch. Very nice chef, and quite entertaining views. These sushi are the best in my recent experience, easilly outgunning many well known places... I haven't tried Masa (and probably won't), but can't really see how to top it...
* desert: a very nice plum sorbet, and a tea mousse/banana cake from Payard (nice, but nothing extravagant).
Jack had a fantastic attitude, and was extremelly helpfull explaining the items served. Service was overall very attentive (changed my tea cup 3 times when they felt it was innapropriate to be refilled...).
The people at my right had the wine pairing - they looked extremelly happy. The wines looked very good to me -didn't try any - lent... :(
Wine menu has some good values to my eye: Champagne Deutz $50, and Chateau Carbonnieux blanc $50. Even Margaux 1976 for $650 seemed fine. The people at my left had a sake pairing, but Jack confided he himself prefers the wine pairing. For desert, they all had desert sake. PS: the wine glasses are from Riedel - and there is one for every type of wine, not the ususal 2 or 3...
Total bill: $85 plus tax and tip per person. No drinks.
PS: I have often read about a different experience at the bar and in the dining room. All I can say is that the bar's experience is certainly extraorinary, with all the raw food prepared by the chef. There is however another chef (sous-chef) that prepares some of the regular sushi and sashimi for the dining room. However, there was at least one table in the dining room that ate the same menu we did, with all their food prepared by the master chef (they looked like regulars). Maybe it boils down to ordering omakase at $85 or anything else??? In any event, since some of the sushis are "hot and cold" it is probably much better to sit at the bar to get them as they were intended.
Hope that sheds some light...