245 West 51st Street
New York, New York 10019
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Nippori shouldn’t really be in the discussion of Manhattan’s crowded Japanese food scene. But then it decides to offer an uni shot.
The uni shot is so much more than a shot of uni. It’s a generous pour of dashi soy in a shot glass, muddled with a couple luscious pieces of sea urchin, bits of scallop, a spoonful of ikura roe and some of this gummy aquatic plant. Don’t mind that last part.
The uni is the central character obviously, but adding in the pops of ikura and sweet scallop make this incredible creation that much better. And if that’s not enough, happy hour pairs all of that with a sake base. But to me that dashi is perfect with the uni.
Maybe I was on an uni high, but everything else seemed just right: A plate of scallop carpaccio, tako wasa raw octopus and some monstrous sushi rolls.
The tako wasa is very much like the one served at Izakaya Mew, chopped into little bubbly pieces and spiked with a jalapeno sauce for a sharp kick. No nori sheets here, but the octopus is just as plump, crunchy and gooey.
The scallop carpaccio was of unexpectedly solid quality as well. The freshness meant very little seasoning was needed, so just a little acidity from the cherry tomato halves and ikura was just right.
The tricky part about Japanese dining in New York is the abundance of sushi shops spread across the island, all with obligatory wooden signage as tribute to tradition and cut-and-paste menu listing sushi and “special” rolls that obviously required little thought. But Nippori reminds us not to write these places off so quickly, because every now and then you’ll uncover a gem, even if it is just one item.