Friday, February 3, 2012

☞ EAT: Winery Owner to Open Sushi Restaurant

The Friday exclusive at Harlem Bespoke is that an authentic sushi restaurant has now been confirmed to open in Harlem.  Nobu Otsu, interior decorator and proprietor of The Winery at West 116th Street, will debut uptowns first sushi and wine bar that will be similar to downtown establishments because of the true Japanese aesthetic of its owner.  Read the interview with Nobu Otsu and learn more about Jado Sushi and Wine Bar coming to FDB:

HB: Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Harlem?
-N: I have lived in Harlem for 7 years now. I am from Japan originally.

HB: Your first Harlem business called The Winery is very successful so what made you decide to branch out into sushi?
-N: It's been almost five years since The Winery first opened its doors. Thanks to our loyal customers and dedicated staff, The Winery has become the leader of quality wine merchants in Harlem. Wine and food are, for many people, one and the same. So, it's a quite natural progression for me to branch into the food business as an extension of the wine business.

I love drinking a nice chilled white wine with sushi. But I've been very frustrated because there's no good sushi restaurant that has a good wine list even in such a progressive city like New York where anything is available. I have been even more frustrated that the fact that there is no real sushi restaurant in Harlem, my hood. So, I thought if I created one, everyone would be happy. The new restaurant will cater to sushi connoisseurs as well as impromptu drop-by's who like to enjoy just a glass of wine and some nibbles.

HB: Have you selected a location for Jado Sushi?
-N: Jado Sushi and Wine Bar's future home is to be in the heart of the "Gold Coast" of Harlem, on Frederick Douglass Blvd between 114th and 115th Street. It's diagonally across from the legendary Melba's Restaurant and a block down from the lively Harlem Tavern.

HB: What is the estimate opening date for the restaurant?
-N: We are scheduled to open in the late spring, hopefully in May.

HB: Those who have traveled to Japan before know that quality sushi comes at a cost. Do you think Harlem is ready for an authentic Japanese restaurant that comes with a higher priced menu since some might think otherwise?
-NIn essence, sushi is as simple and minimalistic as just rice and a slice of fish. Therefore there's absolutely nothing that camouflages the quality of the ingredients. To make a good sushi, you got to use the best possible ingredients. So, most top sushi restaurants in US air-ship their fish everyday from Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market. (Why they need to do so is an another story to tell.)

The other thing is the skills of chefs. You never knew, and I did not know until long time ago, that minuscule knifing techniques that you couldn't even detect with your eyes can change the texture and taste of fish. The temperature of rice, the amount of squeezing pressure in the hand and on and on, all affect the flavors of sushi. It is crazy. That's the world of minimalism. You can tell how anal the Japanese are.

My goal is to create a restaurant for customers to have good food, good wine and a good time. At Jado Sushi and Wine Bar, I like my sushi to be affordable so that customers can come back to us on regular bases. But I promise, there's no compromise on the quality. We are local oriented. We will highlight quality fish from local fishermen. We will take advantage of creative use of local ingredients. We also have a range of vegetarian sushi too. We will do our best to keep the cost low.

HB: You are also an interior designer by trade so what should Harlem expect as far as the decor goes for Jado?
-N: It is my pride that The Winery got voted for the most beautiful wine store in the city by, guess who, the delivery truck drivers. They visit every wine stores in the city to deliver goods and they know everything. So I am very flattered as the designer that they think we are the most beautiful.

The decor of the Jado Sushi is a top secret. But I give you a little hint: it's not going to look like a typical sushi restaurant. It will be urban, polished and sexy. You got to visit us to experience it.


  1. Thank you once more to the Mr. Otsu for taking the time to discuss this new venture!

  2. Affordable with emphasis on top quality ingredients? Sounds like my former favorite once-a-week sushi restaurant in my old neighborhood - taro sushi in brooklyn.

    Hope he lives up to this high standard. If so, Ill be a regular.

  3. Wonderful news and a nice compliment to the diverse restaurants that now grace 8th Ave. Very much looking forward to this!

  4. Great news, this will be an important addition to the FDB corridor and greater Harlem in terms of the growing diversity of quality dining options.

  5. Thank you, Nobu, for creating a sushi restaurant on my block! If your excellent wine store is any indication, the restaurant is sure to be amazing!

  6. Sounds great. Sushi is one of the key missing cuisines in the area, and all the better if it has good ambiance/vibe!

  7. I can not wait. It is the one thing I told my wife was missing is someone coming in to do a sushi restaurant. I would have settled for the chinese owned sushi restaurants, but authentic japanese is so much better. Hopefully it lives up to what we all want.

  8. Just to clarify the sushi situation in Harlem, there are few establishments that are Asian-owned but not Japanese. Charlie's in East/Central Harlem, Nikko in West Harlem and Makana in East Harlem.

  9. So exciting. Thai next?

  10. I am so hungry for sushi!

  11. Can't wait! Great addition to the neighborhood.

  12. Nikko is great - haven't tried the others. Nevertheless, it's always wonderful when a new restaurant comes to the neighborhood. Wish the'd come to West Harlem...

  13. I certainly am excited about more sushi options in Harlem. @Michael, there is a chinese take-out restaurant here in West Harlem that had shuttered its doors due to a fire years ago. They reopened last month with a remodeled space and added a sushi bar to it next door with a couple tables where one can sit down as well. I couldn't be more excited! It's called New Home Sing at 3355 Broadway (between 135th St 136 St)

  14. Charlie's Place on Madison is decent sushi but it closes too early. They're usually gone by 8pm. Sounds like this is the kind of place that will be open later which is great.