Why Come Here? Sample Uni at its best, munch on incredible Japanese small plates
Soto is located on a bustling strip of sixth avenue in the West Village, yet you could probably walk by it every day thinking the white wall with no sign was another day spa. Instead, it covers one of New York’s top Japanese restaurant. The interior continues the bright white in a way that may lead you to believe you’d entered a fro yo shop if it weren’t for the sushi bar on the left (although that could be a great concept).
The food is equally intriguing, with few dishes other than the sushi resembling anything you’ve likely eaten before. The chef is renowned for his use of uni (the velvety orange roe of the sea urchin) which appears in a number of dishes and is often acclaimed as the city’s best. If you’ve had this gooey blob server to you at mediocre sushi restaurants and barely touched the stuff, then we share something in common. But do yourself a favor and try it here. Soto has the absolute best stuff that lacks the unpleasant bitter, fishy flavors you find in lower quality versions and it makes for a phenomenal topping to many dishes (particularly the lobster).
Soto’s menu is also unusually heavy in an ingredient I find far more appealing: truffles. I’m not sure I’ve seen these guys appear on a Japanese menu before, but I now know I’d like to see more if it. It especially worked in creating decadent flavors with the uni, as in the four-star lobster uni dish seen below.
Overall, although the menu is unusual, most ingredients will be familiar to the casual Japanese restaurant diner making it far more approachable than a Kyo Ya or Rockemeisha Izakaya. The plates are small, particularly for the prices (expect to order 3-4 $12-25 dishes per person) but then again the fish is flown in five times a week and definitely represents some of the world’s best. Below are my favorite from the night. For a full rundown of what we ate and more photos, please check my DishEnvy page.
Uni Cocktail-Murasaki, California If you’re here for the uni, this is the way to dive right into it. It’s literally a lump of the stuff with some light soy sauce in a martini glass. It’s rich and creamy and I thought had a hint of coconut.
Seared Scottish Salmon Melt-in-your mouth salmon is topped with black truffle salt and a pleasant tinge of sesame. One of the more straight forward dishes on the menu, but so well done it must be tried.
Cyu Toro Tar Tare It’s like a little cake with the toro on bottom, a creamy avocado frosting and bits of salty caviar on top. Great texture and flavor combination – one of my favorite dishes of the night.
357 Avenue of the Americas (W 4th & Washington Pl)
New York, NY