2012-08-22 / Restaurant of the Week

TOBIKO

By Teresa Barile

t obiko Sushi Asian Fusion restaurant offers a wide range of freshly made dishes from Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The General Manager Hay Chan and his efficient staff welcome you to this fine establishment, located on Steinway Street, making this the perfect spot for a break from a day of shopping and running errands. With two other restaurants, Tobiko of Valley Stream, L.I., and Masago of Great Neck, Chan is no stranger to the restaurant business. The attention to quality of ingredients, presentation and service is unparalleled here.

The sleek, modern interior is furnished with black wooden tables, leather chairs and banquettes lined with pillows, illuminated by soft down lighting. The scene is perfectly set for the eye-dazzling cuisine prepared on the spot by the skilled sushi chefs.

Tobiko invites guests to relax and unwind, and indeed, we sat back and relaxed with some sake, chosen from their long list of sakes served warm or cold, while the skilled chefs went straight to work on our appetizers. First a bowl of Tom Yam Thai soup appeared with plump shrimp, green beans, and spears of fragrant lemon grass and cilantro. Gyoza are tender, delicate, steamed or fried dumplings filled with pork or vegetable, and savory dipping sauce ($5). Shumai are similar parcels, filled with shrimp and great for sharing, while the duck dumplings are a savory treat. Our summer roll was a vision of deliciousness…tender, transparent rice wrappers surrounding shrimp, avocado, mango, and thin noodles. These summer rolls are a Vietnamese specialty, almost too pretty to eat, and served in a puddle of sweet and spicy sauce ($11). The Thai crab cakes are unlike the American version, with their kick of spice and seasonings, and the dim sum sampler keeps everyone at the table happy. Salmon toro tartar is fine quality raw salmon, diced and mixed with mango and caviar, with sinus-clearing wasabi of the highest quality.

Next, a veritable work of art was prepared for us in the form of a signature roll called the Ninja roll. This inventive roll includes crunchy shrimp tempura surrounded by spicy tuna and is topped with savory eel, held together with pearly sushi rice. The combination of textures and flavors is incomparable and I’ll order this on my next visit. The Astoria roll is a hometown favorite, rolled with king crab, avocado, scallion, and hot mango sauce ($14). Other signature rolls include the Christmas roll, and even though it isn’t December, try this specialty made with spicy lobster, shrimp, crabmeat, avocado, and nori.

If you like it straight up and fresh, the sushi and sashimi can’t be beat. Only the freshest tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel, bass, octopus, fluke and white tuna are purchased daily at Tobiko to create simple, clean, fresh, healthy and delicious entrees for the discerning palate. The chefs created an absolutely gorgeous sculpture for us that included a combination of paper-thin slices of tuna, yellow tail, salmon, and mackerel, adorned with a bamboo structure illuminated by light, embedded below the garnish of root vegetables. Seeing is believing here, but I can tell you that you can taste the ocean in each melt-in-your-mouth bite.

Although the sushi, sashimi and rolls are fantastic, some people just like their food cooked. Rest assured, Tobiko offers plenty of dishes from the kitchen, with and without seafood or meat, so there’s something for everyone. Teriyaki is perhaps the most recognizable dish, proffered with chicken, beef, salmon, shrimp, red snapper, tuna, lobster, scallops and even tofu, so everyone can have their favorite. Tempura will make even finicky kids happy with light, crunchy shrimp, vegetables, chicken and seafood. The sizzling hibachi grill renders delicious steak, filet mignon, chicken, jumbo shrimp, lobster, duck and more for you to devour, served with a mélange of broccoli, carrots, onions, mushrooms and peppers with house made hibachi sauce.

Save some room for dessert when you can try tempura ice cream, quickly-fried and crunchy outside, filled with either green tea, mango or red bean ice cream and served still flaming at your table . Chocolate soufflé, fruit sorbets served in their fruit shells and a variety of cool, creamy ice creams round out the menu.

Tobiko is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Complete lunch menus start at $6.99 for cash only purchases and you can take advantage of 50% off the sushi bar and 30% off kitchen items whether you eat in-house, take-out or have it delivered. There is a 5% discount for on-line orders with free delivery to your home or office with a $9 minimum and Tobiko will happily cater your next private party or business function with impressive platters of their famous rolls, sushi and sashimi. Bring a group of 5 people for lunch and 1 lunch is on the house. Check out Tobiko’s beautiful Web site at: www.tobiko88.com for menus and information. For Asian fusion cuisine that is delicious, contemporary, healthy, and fresh, Tobiko is the place to visit.

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