The soft glow of pendant lamps illuminates exposed-brick walls and rustic wood tables inside Kushibar, where diners share tapas and clink glasses of sake. Named for kushiyaki, the Japanese word for skewers, Kushibar specializes in grilled lineups of beef short ribs, quail, and other sumptuous meats and veggies. Chefs fortify these skewers with small plates doused in rich sauces, from the pan-fried scallops' buttery dressing to the sautéed mussels' spicy wasabi, which delivers a kick as zesty as a spice rack strapped to a chorus line. From behind two different bars, chefs roll together eel, cucumber, and caviar, and slice fresh sashimi while servers pour pints of imported beer and hot and cold sake. Patrons can sip their libations from the vantage point of a bright red bar stool, or tote drinks to the basement for karaoke sessions or private parties.
Shimmering green and yellow walls backdrop Ozu’s marble-topped bar, which is part sushi bar and part cocktail bar. On the sushi end, a metal fish sculpture on the metallic green-tiled wall overlooks sushi chefs. It watches as they wrap thin layers of raw fish around miniature bouquets of sprouts, stand slices of strawberry on end, paint plates with splashes of sauce, and nestle purple flowers onto fillets striped with ruby-hued caviar. Sake and Sapporo beer arrive from the other end of the bar to quench thirst.
Elsewhere in this eatery with high ceilings and wooden tiles, guests get their recommended daily dose of lobster with the lobster salad. They also sup on tuna-and-avocado pizza, crispy duck, and Kobe-beef meatballs.
Tradition takes an experimental turn at Ngi Japanese Fusion, where chefs have set Japanese staples alongside jicama, ravioli, chowder, brandy butter sauce, crab bisque, and other creative fixings. Using fresh, organic ingredients and seafood that's delivered daily, they turn out filets and curry pots and craft exotic maki rolls with sweet potato tempura, asparagus, avocado, salmon, shrimp, and crab. The restaurant's contemporary space beautifully complements the chef's efforts—slick white seating, dark wood tables, a tiled bar glowing with neon blue lights, and glimmering silver tassels dangling between booths all give the décor a futuristic flare and diners a conversation starter as they sneak bites from other tables' plates.
Chef Ryuji “Rio” Irie gets his ingredients two ways: by scouring local sources, and by importing them from Japan. The effort pays off for diners, who get to order fresh dishes from a seasonal menu highlighted by soy sauce-based ramen dishes, Japanese-style boneless fried chicken, and yakitori skewers. Loudly slurping your ramen is encouraged, since it aerates the soup and drowns out the sound of people talking about their fantasy football teams. Diners enjoy their meals amid light wood booths, exposed brick walls, and hidden fixtures that provide soft light.
Though Fushimi Modern Japanese Cuisine & Lounge boasts contemporary decor aesthetics and fusion flavor flourishes, its sushi is deeply rooted in tradition. Chefs may reinterpret the presentation of their Japanese staples?such as the tuna sashimi, which they set on broad leaves next to bean-sprout-entangled roe?but they still ring true to traditional flavors. By contrast, cooked fusion entrees tend to incorporate the unconventional, from truffle teriyaki sauce to pineapple-lemon jam. ViaMichelin described the menu as ?flashy, but well-made and very fresh;? likewise, New York Magazine chose the restaurant as a Critic?s Pick for its ?innovative Japanese cuisine in a plush setting.?
The decor also melds old and new. The neon-lit Williamsburg location has a sleeker feel, its booths nestled in large circular openings that recall subway tunnels or the oversized portals of Paul Bunyan's mythical submarine. In Bay Ridge, the stateliness of traditional chandeliers contrasts with the bold colors of wall-sized photographs.
Since he was a child in the Ukraine, chef Dmitry Rodov has appreciated the art of cooking. Like his pastry-chef father, he spent some time as a limousine driver once he reached the United States, but as soon as he’d saved up enough money, Dmitry returned to his true passion.
As a classically trained chef, Dmitry has great respect for French cooking methods, and he fuses French traditions with Japanese, Russian, and Mediterranean techniques. The result: Riviera Grill & Sushi Restaurant, where the menu’s foie gras feels just as at home as plates of raw oysters, Kobe mini sliders still hot from the shrink ray, and signature sushi rolls dreamt up by Dmitry himself. If the restaurant’s one-of-a-kind cultural fusion doesn’t say enough about its gourmet take on global favorites, a quick perusal of its online gallery proves Riviera’s uniqueness with colorful, sculptural arrangements of food.