Manhattan isn't just gaining another pricey omakase spot with the recent opening of Sushi Noz on the Upper East Side, but a 200-year-old tradition, courtesy of chef Nozomu "Noz" Abe. With just eight seats, Sushi Noz's 200-year-old hinoki (cypress) wood bar allows diners to discover a special style of sushi known as Edomae.
Edomae sushi was invented in Tokyo before refrigerators existed and fisherman needed a method to prolong the life of their catch, so they began preserving it in various ways. Today, chefs like Abe continue the practice because they believe it brings out a fish's umami flavor.
"If you subtract the water, only the good part—the umami—is left. That's very Edomae," he says.
Abe grew up in Hokkaido, where his father and grandfather owned and operated a seafood company. He spent two years as a sushi apprentice in Sapporo City before moving to Tokyo to study Edomae for four years, and then relocated to New York in 2007 to work at the well-respected Sushiden. For Sushi Noz, his first solo restaurant, he's partnered with restaurateurs and brothers David and Josh Foulquier.
The three spared no expense on the small but luxurious restaurant, bringing in venerated Kyoto architecture firm Sankakuya, which specializes in designing temples. They imported more than a dozen types of cedar from Japan, an authentic wooden icebox chest (it's the only one in the U.S.) to emulate pre-refrigeration days and an impressive collection of ancient ceramics, with some dating as far back as the 16th century; a separate, six-seat private dining room features Japanese ash wood.
The omakase—costing a hefty $300—consists of four to seven otsumami (hot or cold small plates), a sushi course of 12 to 15 pieces of nigiri, soup and a dessert of Japanese tamago. Abe's relationships with the top purveyors of Tsukiji Market in Tokyo—with whom he chats daily via FaceTime—ensures top-quality fish. Diners can expect otsumami like a pink snapper cured for more than 11 days with grilled salt that's then served with a rich sauce made from its own liver and a fried greeneye atop a lily bulb purée—both of which (we promise) are delicious.
Though the menu changes nightly, squid and scallop nigiri are almost always served, as they're always in season and feature chef Abe's signature hash mark incisions, which expose the seafood's inner umami and allow the mouth to taste it faster. Or so says the chef.
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