Facebook, snap chat, Instagram, Pinterest, twitter…. How many does one need? Social media certainly change the way we live. Not only has it changed the way we communicate (or not communicating) to each other, also change the way we view the world. Nowadays, we get our latest news from twitter; express (or stalk) our concern to our love ones on Facebook; share everything from vacation pictures, cats video to what we had for lunch on yelp, Instagram and snap chat. I admit, I am one of these people, other than all the articles that I can read from authoritative “food” news outlets, I occasionally read reviews from yelp, but definitely check out the pictures from Instagram. Yes, they are not all trustworthy, and sometime the pictures can be deceiving or it doesn’t do the place any justice. Either way, I found myself checking out other people’s food journeys more than I should. But sometimes, it pays off. We would found places off the hidden path, and sometimes, I would got lured in by the pictures. Sushi DaiZen is one of the places I’m got drawn in by the power of social media.
Located in long island city, just 2 blocks away from MOMA PS1, Sushi DaiZen is almost hidden on Vernon Blvd, and there are a lot of restaurants on these two blocks of Vernon. With the help of google map, I still need to take a second look to find the place. The sushi/sashimi only restaurant is only a blond wood door almost caved in under the black clay block. The two months old place is quiet. On this Wednesday evening, I was the only customer there when I walked in at 6:35pm. The zen place is very narrow, just single file all the way to the black. Sushi bar in the front sits about 8, there are some small booths along the wall for more intimate company, and for larger group, a bigger table is all the way to the end underneath the chandelier. Perks of being the first one here, I get to sit directly in front of the chef.
Behind the sushi counter is a 2 man/woman team. May be is because we were the only customers there at the time, staffs are super nice and attentive. Once order is in, the young good looking chef started to prep. But first, we were served up some d’oeuvre and soup to clean our palate.
(from left) Japanese leek in soy; radish in miso; asparagus and baby potato in rhubarb dressing. Such refreshment!! the vegetables are so fresh, also felt like these are fresh off the farm, and have been dedicatedly well cook and prep. The radish is cook just right, it is still crisp and so sweet ???? omg! And the rhubarb dressing is amazing. A tad of sweet and a bit sour, just the right balance, and it certainly brighten up the asparagus and the potato.
By the way, the chopstick here at Sushi Daizen is remarkable. The weight of it, and the feel of it in my hands. It is a fine piece of art. An very fine piece of red wood craved into this wonderful eating instrument. Way too nice to be disposable, makes my want to take it home. I almost feel bad for the tree. With this lovely tool in hand, we feast.
Like any sushi place, first we have ginger. But unlike other place that ginger is pickled, here the whole root is peeked fresh, and skillfully slides. The first bite caught me by surprise. I almost choke at the spiciness. But the more pieces I nourish in my mouth, the spiciness become sweetness.
Scallop– torch very lightly then just a drop of lime zest. I can taste the scallop is barely touch by fire, ever so lightly, just to get that charred to add flavor and texture, and that takes technic.
Uni!!!! From Santa Barbara…. no Hokkaido uni today, Chef said. But these santa Barbara one was a little fishy, and the color is darker today. Nori is so crispy that I can hear it crack, and is still crunchy in mouth.
Chilean uni – when the chef saw my disappointing expression when I heard there’s no Hokkaido, he offer up chilean uni. They are a little smaller. It is a little cold since it was spontaneous piece and didn’t get the same prep time. It taste like the uni from Maine but I like it better than Santa Barbara
I’m so glad that social media lead me into this place. Yes, a little out of the way, take a little bit of time to find, but it is well worth it. Chef’s skill is impeccable, not only good, but great, and can certainly match up to some of more well known chefs in town. I can almost list him side by side with our beloved Chef Masato. Sushi rice done just done right, perfect balance of salt, vinegar, and temperature. Each piece sliced under Chef’s knife is confident, it kept the firmness and every piece is outstanding. At Sushi DaiZen sushi is simple, not a hint of pretentious, just honorable technique serving up high quality food. My only regret is, I forgot to ask for Chef’s name.
Sushi DaiZen | 47-38 Vernon Blvd, Queens | May 2016