When it comes to sushi our tastes skew authentic. Mackerel. Amberjack. Occasionally a tuna and natto hand roll, not Christmas or Dragon rolls. Nevertheless, Gothamist remains a sucker for a gimmick. So when Sakae Sushi, a Singapore-based kaiten – or conveyor belt sushi restaurant – recently opened its first New York City location we couldn’t wait to tear open our disposable chopsticks and begin grabbing tasty morsels as they paraded down the runway. Midtown Lunch’s sneak peek and a perusal of Sakae’s 30-page menu, with everything from typical nigiri-zushi to oddities like corn salad sushi, as well as ramen and yakitori added to the intrigue.
Yesterday we arrived at Sakae’s new digs in the Chrysler Building to find the joint closed. A hand-written sign read, “We will be closed for the next two days, sorry for the inconvenience.” So we decided to grab a bite at the nearby Yakitori East on 44 St. where we encountered the winter specialty known as shirako.
The specials menu demurely describes shirako as soft cod roe. Last time we checked roe meant fish ova. Shirako is not cod roe, but rather beige globules of sperm sacs that resemble calves brains or sweetbreads. Like its land-based offal brethren shirako has a soft melting texture, but its flavor is mellower. It’s also subtler than that other gonadal star of the sushi bar, uni.
Sitting four feet away from the grill sparked an appetite for yakitori.We went with the hotate, or grilled Japanese scallops. Meaty and sweet they came two to a stick, one male and one female. If you've never sexed a scallop, and we hadn't until last night, the gals are the ones with orange bit of flesh rimming the disc of meat. We rounded things out with the hilariously named yaki gaki: oysters as big as the palm of your hand grilled in the shell.
Gothamist is looking forward to trying Sakae once the kinks are worked out. In the meantime, we've discovered a less-than-subtle theme restaurant for Valentine's Day.
Yakitori East, 210 E. 44 St.,212-687-5075
Sakae Sushi, 405 Lexington Ave. at 43rd St., 877-SAKAE-USA