A class at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC last night was a great opportunity for my friend Sarah Lasry-Leizerowski (www.kosherstreet.com) and me to try out the newest Kosher restaurant in Tribeca, SUSHEIN. Under the supervision of the OU, Sushein is also the first Kosher restaurant to deliver sushi to the tables via conveyor belt. The decor is modern and fun and centers around a conveyor belt straight down the center of the store. Both the 18 bar seats, and 5 booths can easily access the diverse selection of sushi on the conveyor. It is possible to have a complete sushi meal here, from appetizer to dessert, as sushi is presented in fish, beef and even dessert versions. There is also seating for private parties which cannot access the conveyor. Regardless of where you are seated, food can be ordered from their Asian inspired menu.
Sarah and I arrived at about 5:00pm and the store was fairly quiet at that time. We chose to be seated in a booth and were happy that the tables were on a platform, to enable us to enjoy the options on the conveyor belt. Since we knew that we would want to try several varieties of sushi, we chose to order and share 1 portion of soup, appetizer, main dish and dessert from the menu.
While we waited for our dinner to arrive, we sampled a salmon, avocado, tuna roll off the conveyor. A little color coded sign, sitting on the table, tells you how much the sushi is, based on the color of the melamine plates holding the sushi. Note that the plates are small and typically hold 3 or 4 pieces of sushi. When the Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup ($6) arrived, we admired the beautifully presented dish in a bowl resembling an upside down hat. Although the flavor combination had potential, the soup was a bit too sweet and had a very intense flavor (like that of over caramelized sweet potato).
Next we sampled the Spicy Tuna with Crispy Wonton Chips appetizer for $14. The wonton chips were squares of fried egg roll skins and they were topped with guacamole and spicy tuna. A bit of spicy mayo topped each of the 8 pieces and was also used to decorate the plates. The presentation was nice and the taste likewise. We asked for some sweet sauce and spicy mayo on the side and were told that there would be an additional $1 charge for those.
Now that we were done with our fish dishes, we were ready to try the meat sushi. This sushi was esthetically appealing, as well as delicious. The pink rice paper wrapped around the sushi brought out the pink of the meat and we enjoyed our first taste of meat sushi.
Our main dish of Caramelized Short Ribs was exquisitely delicious. Served in a bowl with high sides, the ribs were perfectly done, soft enough to fall off the bone but not quite falling off the bone. They were sitting atop Thai barbecue rice noodles and a saute of mushrooms and wilted greens, including endive, bokchoy,and spinach. At a fair $26, Sarah loved the short ribs, but found the rice noodles a bit too spicy. The ribs seemed to have the same flavor and coating as the rice noodles. At this point the owner, Sheindy Kletzkin stopped by our table to see if everything was OK. We learned that she and her husband have recently moved to the US from Israel and have created this restaurant inspired by European models of Keiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi). In fact the name Sushein was meant to incorporate Sheindy’s name. Although I typically don’t order fish for dinner in a restaurant, Sheindy said that their fish is superb. While Sushein is, of course, Kosher, they are hoping to attract a non-Jewish clientele as well. Considering, how good the food and service are, this should not be difficult!
Although Sarah thought the portions were on the small side, we’d been sharing, and I felt the portion sizes were fair, as we were quite satisfied by then. But what is dinner without dessert? We decided to try the Coconut Creme Brulee as an end to our meal. All the desserts are priced at $9 and the Coconut Creme Brulee was an excellent choice. Of course, we also tried a dessert sushi. This one consisted of a chocolate center, surrounded by rice and clear rice paper, topped with thinly sliced strawberries. We felt the rice was out of place in this sushi, and besides, I don’t love strawberries and chocolate. But it did look pretty and exciting.
The meal for the two of us totaled $88 and change. On the whole, we would definitely go back to Sushein. Not necessarily for the conveyor belt or the sushi, but rather, for those short ribs which I can hear, are calling our names…….
325 Broadway, NYC