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Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan Japanese

Sono (french-japanese)


Restaurants & Bars

Sono (french-japanese)

Diane Mehta | Dec 20, 2000 10:37 AM

If you haven't been here, try it. Tadashi Ono's food is decidedly fusion in the best (riskiest) way. Like NObu, he blends things together but doesn't overmix the flavors -- so you get one flavor after enough, and taste the ingredients individually. And they do blend. There's a $57 3-course, $69 4-course, and $87 7-course, which is what I had. It's quite a lot of food, and really runs the gamut, though of course it's heavy on fish.

For me, the best were interesting takes on rather straightforward fishes, such as the sushi first course (after the intro Kumamoto oysters wtih punzu granite) and the pungent-but-delicate green tea smoked salmon with lotus root. There's also seared, plump toro with crunchy japanese mountain potatoes, muskier for the earthy black truffles the dish is seeped in -- an intensely smoky meat flavor.

T. Ono's big on citrus flavors and infused sauces, which add a lot of verve to the dishes. Venison is the only meat, and it's bright, soft, and very gamey, with a black sesame sauce and charred seeds on the top. The remarkably beautiful, hand-carved and soft white turnip that contained duck confit and foie gras came in a saffronish-colored sauce -- the presentation for everything was impeccable. They also gave us an extra superplump scallop topped with sea urchin, that really hit home. Moist, chewy, and sort of smokey and mellow at the same time. And they gave us enough desserts for a group of people; of those, the spiced pear Napoleon in pecan phyllo with ginger sauce was excellent, crispy and sweet, and not saccharine, utterly satisfying. The carmelized kumchats were tangy, light, and really really excellent as well.

I'm not going to go into the regular menu, but I really admired the way T. Ono combined the flavors and seemed to really take risks with the food. It's original, and everything's succulent and clearly crafted and delicately prepared. The place is nice, too -- good acoustics, moody lighting, clean Japanese lines, panelled recesses, and blond wood everywhere. It's comforting, warm, and generally a good place for pretty much any kind of dinner experience -- a few people or a group. And we were there about three and a half hours -- they were gracious the entire time. The sake was excellent, as was the service.

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