Our latest installment of Quick Bites takes us to Gansevoort Market to an omakase counter run by David Bouhadana.
There's a bright burst of energy tucked toward the back of sleepy Gansevoort Market these days, thanks to the arrival of sushi savant David Bouhadana and his four-seat omakase counter, Sushi by Bou. It might seem like an unlikely location for one of the city's upper-tier sushi chefs—he ran the counter at both Sushi Uo and Sushi Dojo—but it's actually slightly more refined and definitely more spacious than his last spot, the acclaimed shipping-container "restaurant" Sushi on Jones.
As at that previous venture in NoHo, Sushi by Bou serves only one thing: a reasonably priced, high-quality omakase. 12 pieces, 30 minutes, $50. It's timed seemingly to the second, with the final piece landing exactly half an hour after after you've taken your seat. And don't be late, either! Reservations—made via text only—are held for only two minutes, no longer.
The small counter at Sushi by Bou is perfectly comfortable for the time you'll be sitting there; in fact, so relatively roomy are his new digs that Bouhadana shares his corner with a "guest" chef, who does a completely different omakase for four other people dining at a right angle to you. It sounds kind of awkward, but it works fine in the larger context of a communal-seating food market setting and, mostly, because you'll be too busy focusing on your own food to really care.
Sushi can be expensive, which is one of the reasons why I rarely eat the stuff anymore (fishing to extinction being the other). In fact, and coincidentally, I think the last true sushi restaurant I went to was Bouhadana's Dojo around three years ago, though my chef that evening was Mokoto Yoshizawa. Maybe I had chirashi at Japonica more recently? Anyway, the point is that I don't have a lot of immediately relevant meals with which to compare the $50 omakase I ate last Thursday night—was it a third as good as Shuko's $135 dinner, or Ichimura's $300? I have no idea—but I can state with confidence that I loved pretty much every bite.
Some of the pieces were knee-buckling good, like the simple, melt-in-your-mouth Hamachi (yellowtail) that started things off, or the fantastic sweet Scallop sprinkled with bits of black truffle, or the warm, lightly caramelized Unagi (freshwater eel) that ended the party. But I expected to enjoy those. The sleeper hit may have been the basic Albacore (a highly underrated fish, Bouhadana says), its distinct gaminess balanced with a hit of citrusy ponzu on top.
The Salmon took me by surprise, too, with its smear of spicy yuzu, because it seemed impossible to ever again feel so delighted by something you've had so many times in your life. Same goes for the Akami, or lean tuna, which looked like the blandest sort of drug-store sushi but tasted like a sea-dream come true. And the slab of wonderfully fatty Wagyu, torch-fired at about the meal's midpoint, was a well-timed trip back to the land. But really, it was mostly all delicious, the only middling bite coming via a slightly bitter piece of Uni.
Dining with David Bouhadana is an excellent way to spend a half hour of your life, even at the vaguely depressing Gansevoort Market. Whether the experience is worth $50 (actually more like $65 with tax and tip, and you might walk away hungry) is up to you. I certainly can't afford to be popping by for a snack again any time soon, but I'm glad I succumbed to the urge to splurge when I did.
Sushi by Bou is located within the Gansevoort Market at 353 West 14th Street, just east of Ninth Avenue. No liquor license, but Bouhadana might offer you a cup of sake from his personal stash. For reservations, text 917-870-1587 (sushibybou.com)