Recently, the revered, Michelin Guide, released its picks for Michelin Starred restaurants in New York and San Francisco for the 2014 year. For many, like myself, the Michelin Guide is for the preeminent restaurants around the world. This year, 65 restaurants made the list, fifty three with one star, five with two stars and seven with three stars with three newcomers: The Musket Room, Carbone and Aska. Among the Michelin starred restaurants, eleven are awarded for their excellent Japanese cuisine including: Masa, Soto, Brushstroke, Ichimura at Brushstroke, 15 East, Jewel Bako, Sushi of Gari, Sushi Azabu, Kyo-Ya, Kajitsu and Rosanjin. Surprisingly, one of the most popular Sushi destinations, Sushi Yasuda did not make the list. Nevertheless, prior to the release of the new list, I had only experienced UES favorite, Sushi of Gari. Gari, which has now expanded to locations in TriBeca and the Plaza hotel (in addition to the UES, UWS and Midtown West. Unfortunately since expanding to the Plaza and TriBeca, Gari has regressed as the menu is less creative (no more Salmon of Gari for instance), become clearly more commercial and touristy and worst of all, akin to Torrisi, is now too expensive for its own good. To me, the proper way to accurately appraise the merit and value of each michelin rated restaurant should be based on excellent attention to detail in the form of service (and frankly should always offer amuse-bouche upon being seated), decor and obviously, outstanding food. For years, I had noticed Jewel Bako’s ascension among the Japanese elite as it has received a Michelin star every year since 2007 and has garnered exceptional praise as one of the “best dates” in NYC.
Upon entering into Jewel Bako, which shares space with its sister restaurant, Spanish Tapas Wine Bar, Degustasion, I was impressed by the restaurants aesthetic beauty. Unlike most other notable venues, that are best known for minimal design, Jewel Bako’s intimate and beautifully designed layout justifies it as one of the most romantic Sushi restaurants in town. Contrary to other restaurant’s space which suggests the sushi bar is the best seat in the house, seating in the dining room is probably the best experience at Jack Lamb’s East Village gem.
The menu is incredibly unique at Jewel Bako, comprised of several favorable appetizers such as Trio of Tartares (Salmon, Blue Fin Tuna and Yellowtail), a plethora of impressive Makimo Rolls, and delectable large portion sushi entrees such as Selection of Sushi, Sashimi and Makimono Omakase. While the Selection of Sushi ($38) was exceptionally fresh, and frankly a pretty good value compared to Gari’s $52 Gari Special, the most unique dish was the Makimono Omakase (Pictured Above). Comprised of nine unique tasting of each succulent Makimono Roll, the Makimono Omakase $42 justifies a visit alone. Excellent and creative, the Makimono included: Japanese Snow Crab, Unagi, Scallop, Spicy Tuna and Yellowtail and Anago among others. Overall, the attentive staff and impressive wine list justifies the high praise and accolade Jewel Bako has received over the years and while there are other equally fresh and delectable Japanese restaurants in New York City, one could argue there may not be a better value and romantic setting than Jewel Bako.
New York, New York, 10003
P: + 1 212 979-1012