I was very surprised to learn via Instagram that chef Jeff Miller and his team will be leaving Mayanoki which my wife Jun and I have enjoyed visiting multiple times. I was a huge fan of the sustainable omakase experience offered by chef Miller with fish sourced mostly from the United States with one or two exceptions each night. Whatever the reason for his departure was (chef Miller explained that he wanted to pursue more pop-up type ventures than settling at a single location), I felt I had to come see him once last time at the counter of Mayanoki. The parting meal that Jun and I had on the last Sunday before the chef’s departure was quite wonderful.
Just like previous times, all fish but two from our meal came from the U.S. One exception was the oyster from Prince Edward Island (with quail egg yolk and smoked trout roe on top) that Jun remarked was quite fresh (she is particularly sensitive to the quality of shellfish). I don’t recall ever seeing watermelon being used in a sushi restaurant (and unlike Jun, I had not been particularly fond of the fruit), but chef Miller’s yellowfin tuna sashimi from Long Island came with it and Thai chili to give a very refreshing appetizer. The tartare of fluke from Montauk with crispy seaweed was another winner that Jun and I very much enjoyed.
The nigiri series that followed was a mix of good to great pieces. The side striped shrimp from Alaska didn’t have as much gooey sensation to my liking, and I would certainly miss the steelhead trout from Hudson Valley that is one of the staples at Mayanoki. Jun raved about the bluefish from New Jersey noting it reminded her of a very fresh mackerel. She was also a huge fan of the only fish from Europe on the night of our visit, a smoked kingfish from Denmark, where chef Miller used sunflower sea salt that gave a nutty flavor to the nigiri to an awesome effect. While the nigiri of California albacore belly wasn’t our favorite piece, there was no doubt that the sashimi form that came with tomatoes and jalapeno with ponzu sauce underneath was a very delicious dish. Chef Miller noted that his successor at the restaurant who had been learning the craft from him also enjoys baking and the blueberry tart prepared by the successor in advance was surprisingly very well-executed.
This time, we gave a chance to a bottle of orange wine from the Hamptons and it turned out to be quite a nice beverage complement to the outstanding meal. I asked the chef if he knows of any other place in New York City that champions local fish the way Mayanoki has and he said no as sushi restaurants still focus on ingredients from Japan. I wish the best for chef Miller in future endeavors and promised that Jun and I will follow wherever he lands. Mayanoki is one of the best secret places in my culinary journey and I will always remember fondly the time that we first visited the restaurant braving through the snowstorm and ended up being the only diners that evening due to cancellations from other guests.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 9.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 620 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009