Being eight months pregnant, I am dying from desire to dine at Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio eponymous west side sushi outpost. Don’t be confused by my pre-pregnancy look here , the shot was done back in May but I never had a chance to post it before the summer. Like thousands of other people in the neighborhood, we fell in love with Gari Columbus when we migrated to Lincoln Center years ago (I am from East Village and my husband from Brooklyn via NJ). The quality of fish sets Gari apart from other sushi restaurants on Upper West Side, besides Masa, of course. Subdued decor in light wood and the sleek traditional Japanese wooden bar, which seems endless, set the atmosphere and expectations. It is a real Japanese place that even Japanese expats favor. Don’t be discouraged by such unassuming decor, it is actually what Japan is like, minimalism is de rigeur; food is the star. Walk in on Friday night and you will see the place filled with a well-heeled bunch of beautiful ladies that traveled across the bridge (from near & far) to eat here with their husbands, boyfriends and families. Everyone knows about the superb quality at this exemplary sushi restaurant and most of these people are regulars albeit from afar. (Don’t misunderstand me, there are plenty of locals there as well but it is a testament to Gari Columbus that people travel for miles to have dinner there.)
Precision, technique, expertise. Bar area is the prime real estate at Gari’s. Even though it is difficult to get, when my husband and I are dining alone, the bar is our top choice.
If you can’t get the bar, tables by the window are also quite intimate, even for a date night.
Hijiki salad is one of my favorite seaweed salads EVER! and even though my husband and I tend to share everything when dining, I never want to share my sweet, chewy hijiki salad. Not only is this seaweed variety tastes divine, it is also rich in minerals and has been part of Japanese balanced diet for centuries.
I want to ravish this incredible spicy tuna roll with creamy tofu mayonnaise now! A succulent bite of overwhelming flavors! Need I say more?!
Sashimi slices omakase-style.
Sake is traditionally consumed cold and that’s exactly how I like it. I always go for carafe of Wakatake, a very popular Daiginjo variety or Dassai 50, a Junmai Daiginjo. Both are excellent choices for sushi, sashimi or anything see in the menu.
When you go to Gari’s, try salmon sushi with warm chunky tomato sauce on top. Also uni is a must. Whether sushi or sashimi, either from Santa Barbara or Japan, it will be sublime, silky and full of that unique sea urchin flavor! Japanese variety will be a bit more briny but that is its nature.
Ebi, a raw shrimp, is my long time favorite! Delicious on its own or garnished Gari style.
My candy- sea urchin! We always order at least four (greedy us) and go for seconds right after! We are self-proclaimed uni obsessed eaters!
My guilty pleasure- artisanal Japanse beer! Here I am enjoying Kagua blanc beer, a refreshing ale with unique flavors of Yuzu, Japanese herbs and special yeast.
Even though sushi and sashimi are so delightful at Gari this Crepe Cake, courtesy of Lady M Confections bakery, is so decadent and seemingly light that I never want to share it. (My husband usually orders another round of his favorite sushi for dessert, a true believer! Haha)
LOOK: If coming on Friday night or weekend, pair you heels with jeans and biker leather jacket! The place while appearing casual, brings in a chicly dressed crowd that is definitely fancier that your typical neighborhood hang out place.