I want to visit Harlem every once in a while for hidden gems in the neighborhood but after moving downtown recently, it’s naturally been harder to make that trip. Once I realized that it’s been a while since my girlfriend and I have had a sushi in a while, I was looking for a new place to check out and stumbled upon this place inside an unassuming Japanese fusion restaurant where a chef was serving what some people were remarking as the best value sushi omakase. I’ve already had an excellent omakase meal at another unassuming sushi restaurant in Harlem (Sushi Inoue), and thought chef Nakajima’s counter at Jado Sushi might be another winner. On the recent visit, I’ve had some hits and misses, but overall the omakase meal (priced at $85 per person) was generally good.
The moment we had the aromatic chawanmushi with salmon roe and mushroom, we realized that chef Nakajima, who politely introduced himself before serving each nigiri, was a big fan of yuzu. I’ve always felt like yuzu is always best served with modest amount and too much of it can overwhelm the flavor of food. For instance, the yuzu flavor in chawanmushi undermined the earthy feel of mushroom. The weakest nigiri pieces I’ve had for the night also had heavy yuzu flavor that didn’t allow me to truly appreciate the freshness of the fish such as the blackfish or the Hokkaido octopus that I thought could’ve been even better with the yuzu’s citrusy kick.
The level of freshness of texture for the nigiri pieces wasn’t as consistent as I had hoped either. I absolutely enjoyed the delicate sensation of sea bream, horse mackerel or the medium fatty tuna; each of them was literally melting in my mouth. Another favorite of mine was the maki that came at the end with toro and scallion inside, with excellent balance of flavor that made me crave for another. The other pieces were all on good but not great quality. I was hoping that Boston mackerel wrapped in shiso leaf would bring something extra to the counter, but it was hard to tell what the leaf was supposed to achieve on top of the otherwise very solid mackerel piece. I really liked the fact that chef Nakajima presented two unis (one from California and the other from Maine) since I’m always a sucker for one of these; I just wished the texture were slightly more on the firmer and chewier side.
You need to call in advance to book a seat at the counter; the crowd at the counter during our meal was mostly Japanese people who seem to know a thing or two about how Japanese food should be prepared. In addition to the sushi omakase option, there is the longer omakase option priced at $140 per person that also includes non-sushi dishes. There is a variety of sake and wine options that will nicely complement your meal. I would grade chef Nakajima’s counter at Jado sushi as a solid above-average omakase place. Overall, I can see that chef Nakajima really cares about his craft and had some really nice pieces, but it was hard to find a single distinguishing factor that would make me put this place at the top echelon of all the great sushi restaurants that I had been to this year and before.
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 2118 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, New York, NY 10026