2010-12-22 / Restaurant of the Week

YAMASHIRO

This sleek Japanese restaurant and sushi bar offers some of the finest, freshest fish in NYC. Fellow diners agree Yamashiro outshines many expensive sushi restaurants in Manhattan, and you'll pay a fraction of the price right here on Steinway Street. You'll be amazed at the artful, inventive ways the skilled sushi chefs turn fresh fish and seafood into eye dazzling rolls, sashimi, sushi and hot dishes. Yamashiro provides the perfect oasis from frenetic holiday shopping on Steinway Street so treat yourself to a fabulous lunch or sumptuous dinner here.

The cool, industrial-modern interior features slate floors and walls set with black tables, leather chairs and banquettes backed with pillows. The service is professional and friendly and you are welcome to b.y.o.b. (try Muho Wine shop on Steinway). Owner Jason Lim and Anson, the hospitable manager, insure quality at every meal. In addition to the menu, which covers soups, salads, sushi, sashimi, rolls and hot dishes such as hibachi and donburi, there are chef's specials that change bi-weekly.

We let Anson and the sushi chefs suggest the menu and were soon presented with a feast. First came shrimp dumplings; delicate, transparent parcels filled with tender shrimp. One of the most popular appetizers is rock shrimp tempura with a super light, crunchy pancko coating ($8) Treasure Island combines slices of tuna, salmon and yellowtail with avocado for a starter to share and enjoy. A gleaming white, rectangular platter boasted thin slices of seared salmon that just melted on the tongue, surrounded in savory yuzu sauce. Mix your own soy sauce with wasabi for dipping and please ask for their delicious spicy mayonnaise if you like a bit of heat. The special pumpkin soup was creamy and satisfying in its simplicity ($4). You'll also find miso soup, seafood soup and several beautiful salads on the menu. A work of art was prepared for us in the

form of a special roll. Fresh asparagus was wrapped up with spicy crab and seared tuna and rice. The presentation, on a crushed glass platter, was breathtaking, garnished with carved oranges. A Fuji roll includes tempura shrimp, eel, cucumber and mango for a delightful combination of textures and flavors ($11). The dynamite roll has crabmeat, avocado, salmon and spicy sauce ($8.25). The basic rolls start at just $3, making Yamashiro within reach to all, and there are plenty of rolls that don't contain fish, if you prefer. We tried a unique dish of grilled octopus, made into a roll with sushi rice, then sliced thinly and topped with a sweet orange sauce. Here again, the combination of sweet orange, savory octopus and the texture of the rice was a culinary treat, and a gorgeous presentation.

 

The menu offers plenty of cooked dishes too, with and without seafood, so there's something for everyone. The weekly special was succulent, flaky Chilean sea bass, prepared with a puddle of the chef's secret sauce and it was just sublime. Teriyaki dishes are not overly salty so you can taste all the flavors of the ingredients that include chicken, salmon, shrimp, tofu, scallops, beef, pork and vegetables, starting at $10 for a nice portion. "Katsu" dishes are fried pieces of filet, chicken or seafood with rice and vegetables. If you can't decide between hot and cold entrees, I suggest the economical "Bento Box" which offers a taste of all in a lacquered, divided tray. You'll start with either miso soup or salad, shumai dumplings, a California roll, rice and your choice of two hot entrees, such as one of the teriyaki dishes I mentioned, or beef negimaki, katsu , sushi or sashimi. The pretty Bento Box costs just $16 and is very filling, not to mention delicious. There are rice dishes and hearty noodle soups chock full of thick noodles, chicken, vegetables, seafood and more.

For dessert you must try tempura ice cream, quickly fried and crunchy outside, filled with either green tea, mango or red bean ice cream, served still flaming at your table ($5). Banana tempura is prepared similarly or go for broke and try the fried cheesecake.

Yamashiro is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Complete lunch menus run from $7.25 to $9.50 and include miso soup or salad. Yamashiro provides fast, free delivery to your home or office. They'll prepare party platters for your private affair so call and order a New Year's Eve platter now and impress your guests with some of the best sushi and rolls in town. Arigato!

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