Kenji Takahashi of Sasabune is responsible for what I consider to be the best sushi in New York City. Considering my tax bracket, Sasabune is currently only reserved for special occasions (does calming my nerves the night before a visit to the set of Chopped count as special?) but every time I go, it’s staggeringly memorable.
I have a ton of praise for the place, and I could go on and on extolling its virtues, but until I snap some photos I’m not sure that I can properly convey just how impactful an experience it is. Put simply, Takahashi and his crew more or less serve the exact same items from start to finish every. single. time. And yet, each meal is just as mind-blowing as the last. When you’re repeating near-perfection, I guess that’s an easy feat to achieve.
On my last visit, there were two new dishes that floored me. The first was a special request for an order of ankimo (monkfish liver), a steal at $5 additional — though it should be noted that nothing about Sasabune is a “steal”, as the meal runs about $115 after tax and tip without drinks. The ankimo had been cooked just two hours before it was presented to me, and as such it was meltingly-soft with no fish flavor whatsoever; a dead-ringer for foie gras. Most places serve ankimo that has had time to rest before it is served and the result is a texture that’s more like pate, so Kenji’s preparation was that much more remarkable by comparison. He’s also serving pieces of iced toro, which - like the ankimo - is a genius play on the usual texture associated with the dish. The icing not only gives the cut of tuna belly a nice sturdiness, but also a refreshing burst from the chilly temperature. With its relatively mild flavor, Toro takes well to the technique.