Sushi has never been my thing.
My first taste was in college. The guys I was with gave me a massive piece to try, peer pressuring me to put the entire piece into my mouth. It was a fishy tuna roll, squishy in texture and horrible in taste to my polluted sophomore year taste buds that were used to french fries, sodas and candy.
I wanted no more of that for a very long time.
Over the years, I’ve dabbled in sushi, usually with cooked choices like tempura rolls and eel and the occasional yellowtail with scallion roll. And then for my birthday this year, a couple of friends took me to Neta.
It changed everything.
Nestled on a side street in the West Village of New York City, Neta is unassuming and sparsely decorated. The food, however, is simply beautiful, both visually and on the palate. A combination of small plates and sushi rocked my culinary world.
One of the most inventive and unique dishes I’ve ever eaten: Barely cooked and strikingly fresh scallops with luscious bites of uni (otherwise known as sea urchin) meld together perfectly with a slightly salty hint of garlic soy butter and tang from a squeeze of lime. Heavenly.
Supremely fresh crab meat (the chef told me it was from Vancouver on this day) over a julienne of cucumber and lightly dressed in a dashi vinaigrette – with a citrusy back note – was refreshingly delicious.
Toro tartare and Petrossian caviar was delightfully decadent. It comes with two squares of toast, but I felt indulgent and preferred it straight up.
Uni porridge was exquisitely creamy and rich, like a Japanese risotto, and topped with shavings of summer truffle.
Miso avocado tofu rolls sound like they would be a mushy mess, but they were perfect vegetarian bites. The salty tang of the miso beautifully accented the creamy textures of the avocado and tofu, while the rice added just enough bite.
Neta only serves a few desserts, and I sampled the summer truffle ice cream. I am a truffle lover, but even I wasn’t sure how it would translate in a sweet dish. It was beautiful – a familiar ice cream base that is delicately sweet, with just enough of a punch of earthy truffle. It had me swooning.
While Neta is not inexpensive, I keep thinking of reasons to go back for its beautifully clean flavors. Hopefully, I will see you there.
Neta, 61 West 8th Street, New York, NY 10011; 212.505-2610