357 Sixth Ave., nr. Washington Pl.; 212-414-3088
Virtuoso chefs have always put their personal stamp on unlikely ingredients (witness Mario Batali and his shavings of lardo). But it wasn’t until Sotohiro Kosugi moved his modest little sushi operation up from Atlanta that New Yorkers began to explore all the funky gourmet possibilities of sea-urchin roe. Kosugi has an almost unnerving fondness for this smooth, most addictive of sushi delicacies, and he serves it in all sorts of inventive and quirky ways. He sometimes wraps his uni in white kelp, places spoonfuls of it on spools of the traditional Japanese soy-milk dish called yuba, and whips it into a mousse to flavor fresh lobster. The most inventive and quirkiest of all, however, is “uni ika sugomori zukuri,” made, among other things, with cool shreds of squid, tangy shiso leaf, and velvety deposits of uni flown in from Santa Barbara. Sure, sea-urchin eggs are an acquired taste, but if you wish to acquire it, this is the way to go.
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).