First Impressions: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar

The second-to-last in a series of reviews of the restaurants at Hudson Eats in Brookfield Place. Previously: Black Seed Bagels, Num Pang Sandwich Shop, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, Little Muenster, Umami Burger, Olive’s, Tartinery, Dos Toros Taqueria, SkinnyPizza, Sprinkles, Dig Inn.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar feels more at home at Hudson Eats than the other restaurants, in good part because sushi doesn’t really want warmth or patina. The food court’s clean-bordering-on-sterile atmosphere suits it perfectly.

The takeout and dine-in experiences are totally different. For takeout, you choose between prepackaged sushi or a bowl, which gets filled in the assembly-line style so popular at fast-casual restaurants these days. You choose a starch (rice or soba) and either two vegetable dishes or one fish (chopped and marinating in dressing) and one vegetable. I went with plain soba (instead of green tea soba), tofu salad (with string beans, edamame, and carrot-miso dressing) and seaweed salad. It wasn’t the most scintillating thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was healthy and fresh and if I worked at Brookfield Place I’d probably be a repeat customer. Because I’m hungrier than most people, and in the name of research, I also ordered a sakana roll (tuna, salmon, and yellowtail), which was fine, but I’m not a huge fan of minced fish. I accept that that may be how it’s supposed to be—I’m not a sushi aficionado—but it always makes me think of cat food.

While you do get the traditional “Irasshaimase!” welcome at the 16-seat counter, you also get a wet towelette wrapped in plastic. The menu, not on the website, is far more expansive than the takeout version. I leaned toward vegetables: a Phoenix Roll, mixed vegetables wrapped in cucumber and avocado, with no rice; a custom roll with burdock and avocado; a Dragon Roll (eel and avocado); and two pieces of smoked salmon sushi. Watching the seven chefs is a delight, and the food came out quickly.

I enjoyed the food, but I did have three quibbles about the experience. First, I don’t recall better establishments sending sushi out with liquid smeared all around the fish. Second, the servers were overeager, to put it gently. Asking me twice how my meal is before I’m even halfway done is possibly nice. Interrupting my meal to tell me I should eat the Dragon Roll first is overbearing, but the intention was good. Reaching under my lifted chopsticks—as I was raising food to my mouth—in order to remove a plate is beyond the pale. (And while chewing said bite, I was asked if I needed anything else.) Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar must have to do substantial turnover in the prime lunch period to make economic sense, but at what cost?

The third quibble: The bill was $51 plus tip (and I drank tap water). I overordered, but even so—that’s a lot of money for a food court.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar is at 225 Liberty St., 212-786-0808; blueribbonsushibar.com.

Recent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
Café Noir
Pi Bakerie
Washington Market Tavern
Macaron Café
Colony
Grand Banks
Satomi Kawakita Jewelry
• Hudson Eats: Black Seed Bagels, Num Pang Sandwich Shop, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, Little Muenster, Umami Burger, Olive’s, Tartinery, Dos Toros Taqueria, SkinnyPizza, Sprinkles, Dig Inn
Tutto Il Giorno
Union Bar + Kitchen
Bâtard
Il Principe
Arcade Bakery
Sweet Green

1 Comment

  1. Erik, I agree. My take out experience was meh. The food was fresh but tasted just ok. They overcharged me by mistake and the refund process took close to 15 minutes. Lots of people had to get involved to figure out the register. Again, not the most terrible thing that can happen, but common! this is take out. Everything about Hudson Eats is just ok. Blue Ribbon, how it stands right now, fits right in. Service and food wise.

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