From the outside, you probably wouldn’t guess that Jewel Bako is a restaurant, much less one that’s been Michelin starred for nine years in a row; the heavy black door looks more like the inconspicuous entrance to someone’s home. Once you step inside though, it’s a completely different story. You’re greeted by a gorgeous wooden interior – bamboo beams curve gracefully over the spacious dining area, creating a tunnel that leads to the sushi counter at the back.
I came alone for dinner, mainly for the experience of dining alone in a nice restaurant (and also because I had an Opentable coupon that I wanted to use lol). I had asked for a seat at the sushi counter and ended up with the best seat in the house: right in front of the chef. The counter is designed so that all the fish is stored underneath, giving diners a perfect unobstructed view of the sushi chefs’ work.
The chef smiled and greeted me when I first sat down, but otherwise didn’t talk much during the rest of the meal… so I spent my dinner alternating between watching the chef show off his skillz, reading on my phone, and eavesdropping on the family next to me. There were two other chefs behind the counter, and every once in a while they would talk to each other in Japanese so I tried hard to figure out what they were saying… but I think it’s safe to say that I’ve forgotten most of the Japanese I learned in college.
Anyway, on to the food! I decided to go for the sushi omakase ($75). It started off with an amuse-bouche: bluefin tuna over crispy sushi rice.
Following that came a bowl of miso soup (which I don’t have a picture of) and then the sushi. The fancy gold table setting pictured above was swapped out for a slate plate for the chef to place the sushi on, plus a little folded towel for wiping your fingers between courses. You’re encouraged to eat the sushi with your hands rather than chopsticks.
The omakase included sixteen pieces of sushi total. The pictures will mostly do the talking for the rest of this post–
The next few photos are devoted to my favorite of the night, the uni cup. The chef carefully assembled rice, squid, and uni into a glass cup, bruleeing the last piece of uni with a blowtorch before he placed it on top. It. was. delicious.
The rest of the omakase went back to more ordinary-looking nigiri…
[Insert picture of the Japanese barracuda here, which I totally forgot to take a photo of because I was so eager to eat it. Oops.]
Bottom line: I think I still have a ways to go in developing an appreciation for sushi omakases, but Jewel Bako’s is pretty solid. At $75, it’s also one of the most reasonably priced in the world of NYC’s high-end sushi restaurants.
239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003