As my first KenScale All-Star restaurant, Mayanoki’s distinct omakase experience with sustainability angle has become one of those places I made a point to visit at least once every quarter. With the talented chef Jeff Miller who is very open about his culinary philosophy with showcasing fish from the United States of America that have not been traditionally used for nigiri, it certainly offers a very fresh take on what it means to eat sushi. A recent visit with my wife Jun ended with another satisfying meal.
The format of omakase at Mayanoki hasn’t changed, although the price has gone up slightly to $105 per person, which is still a bargain compared to the other uber-expensive sushi restaurants in the city. There were pieces from our last visit that also appeared this time, such as the Hudson Valley steelhead trout, smoked with Applewood and this time with pickled leek (instead of shallot) on top, and the same fish’s blow torched belly cut that were both just as wonderful as I had tasted last time. Otherwise, the nigiri pieces offered in front of us have changed from last time, showing that the sourcing of fish at the restaurant hinges on what is fresh on that particular day or season. There were some really delicious nigiri from Long Island such as black seabass, blue fish with ramp and ginger mix on top of it, as well as butterfish whose smoky sensation from the blow torch gave it exquisite texture.
A couple of pieces from Montauk, a mackerel and fluke (with fluke liver on top of it), were also outstanding. One thing that I always liked about Mayanoki is that chef Miller is not afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques. Instead of the scallop last time, he used yellowtail snapper from Florida to mix up with fennel puree and dashi. In lieu of a traditional handroll maki, he gave a Thai-style spicy kick to the Montauk scallop one by applying chili jam. While I was somewhat disappointed that there was no fish this time on the Malaysian laksa broth that came as the final course, the aromatic touch of the broth still worked well for asparagus and maitake mushroom in it.
Mayanoki was again fully booked for our 6:30 p.m. slot on a Friday evening, so book in advance by all means. I’ve always wished the beverage list somehow loosens up a little bit from the sustainability angle as the drinks are still mostly limited to New York State wines and Japanese sakes. We were able to get to have more conversation with Chef Miller this time (I learned for instance that he is from Florida and a Gators fan as his cap he was wearing at the night of the meal could tell), and shared our recent experiences at other sushi restaurants. There was no show stopper such as the arctic char sashimi with persimmon (see my review from last visit where Jun and I raved about this dish here https://kenscale.com/2019/01/26/mayanoki-revisit-kenscale-all-star/) this time, but we still went home with delightful thoughts. Can’t wait to come back again in the summer.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 620 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009