Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill
6 Columbus Circle, in the 6 Columbus Hotel, New York City
212 397 0404
Review by Susu, MaceVindaloo, Jools, MostlyIrish

High-end Japanese restaurants have a certain sameness to them. Namely, they let the ingredients do the talking and their job is to provide the canvas onto which the key ingredients can shine. This philosophy is very much like how Michelangelo describes how he can sculpt dynamic humanesque figures from a block of marble. He (humbly?) said that he simply takes away everything that is not the sculpture. To say thus is to not acknowldege the talent of restraint, or the gift of human genius.

Being able to let ingredients shine on their own goes rather against human nature. We desperately want to add things, to "make it my own", and to grab credit for providing inspired food. That also means that you know how to treat the ingredients to make the best of them, so that people don't say, "Ooh, this is so-and-so's touch," but instead, just "OMFG!!!"

Blue Ribbon is not a chain, despite them opening their eighth restaurant. Each of the Blue Ribbons have their own identity, but what they have in common is quality and the ability to lay back and let the main ingredient be everything it can be. (By the way, they have nothing to do with Boston's Blue Ribbon BBQ, which isn't a high quality place, nor do they serve high quality food.)

Like two of the other Blue Ribbons, this one features sushi and sashimi, and also fuses with the Sullivan Street Blue Ribbon style, which features American southern-style / French bistro type of fusion effort. Thus the Sushi-and-Grill, and we were determined to try from both halves of the fusion spectrum.

We tried the 18 piece sashimi platter as an appetizer for the table. The fish was not only fresh, but however it was treated from capture to hitting the plate, the texture and flavor were outstanding. On the plate were simply the fish, julienned diakon (long turnip), and shisho leaves, along with shoga (pickled sliced ginger) and wasabi paste. It was more than beautiful, and the fish were kept separate so they could be enjoyed on their own, one by one. Rice was not served, and so thus was not a distraction.

Between us, we had:
  • grilled and roasted hamachi collar
  • tempura-style fried frog legs with salad
  • roasted beef bone marrow with teriyaki sauce
  • sardine omekase (they didn't have sardines, so we got spanish mackeral instead)
  • grilled salmon
  • platter of rolled sushi (maki)
The first four were from the appetizer menus and cost about $14 apiece. We expected something tiny in portion, but they were big! In fact, all the portions were generous, making the costs very reasonable for a restaurant in this location and of this calibre.

Everything was cooked perfectly and delicious. We shared and ate and there was nothing left. All the garnishes and sauces were eaten, too.

The really big winners were the hamachi collar and the bone marrow! The first was simply served with shredded daikon, and split bone marrow with toasted brioche with a teriyaki sauce on the bottom of the plate. They are usually reviled ingredients, but one of us developed a love for them simply because there was no competition for them at big gatherings. But the secret is out, darn it!

We did order a few drinks — sake and plum wine, which were very pleasant and clean. We don't remember what we ordered, but if you ask the server, they will not steer you wrong. The service did border on obsequious, but that's really how it's done in Japan at higher-end restaurants.

The decor was reminiscent of Japanese restaurants — bar in front, a narrow corridor with booths on one side, the kitchen on the other. You walk through to a dining room that opens up, and the sushi bar is located in the back, where the gaggle of sushi chefs boistrously greet you as you are seated. The seats are bare wood but quite comfortable, and the tables are stable and large. The lighting was subdued but not too dark.

We even enjoyed dessert:
  • green tea creme brulee
  • lychee sorbet
  • red bean ice cream
  • persimmon pudding with ginger ice cream
Actually, the red bean ice cream was brought out in error, but we were told to keep it while they went to fetch the correct dessert, so we got another dessert to taste, too. The flavors were intense and pleasantly strong and satisfying. The creme brulee was likely stabilized with a starch (a sort of pastry cream) and it made the texture smoother and more unctuous so that the creme coated your mouth in a satiny manner and let you taste it for longer than you'd expect. The burnt sugar shell was thin and even and crispy, and this was the dessert winner for us.

The persimmon pudding was rather like an English gingerbread, and was really good with the ginger ice cream. The sorbet was really not too sweet and very lychee-strong. All winners!

It was a great experience and a delicious meal, totally top-notch. Some warnings, however: they don't take reservations, so get there as early as you can to get on line. We were there at 6pm, and they prefer not to seat you till everyone in your party is there (though they will be nice and seat you early, earlier in the evening). Also, it's not easy locate. You have to know it's in the 6 Columbus Hotel, accessible through the lobby. There is a tiny sign off to the right once you're in the hotel. Also, the address is deceptive, in that the building is not really on Columbus Circle, but on west 58th Street, just off of 8th Avenue. It's actually across the street on the back-side of the Time Warner Center.

The restrooms are beautiful — they're actually a white and gray gneiss or marble with blue lights and very sleep fittings. It's located in the lobby of the hotel, on either side of the coatcheck, at the back of the elevator bay. Though the toilets are not atomic or really glowy, they are rather peaceful and very clean and terrific.

The lobby is beautiful too, and the chairs are very comfy, if you'd like to wait for your party there, rather than at the bar, perhaps.

Don't let any of that deter you. Find it, go early, and enjoy!

Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!