I’m not sure if NY’s supposedly best sushi restaurant is actually the best. Everything is GREAT. Nakazawa, the man himself, has an incredible personality, fish is freshly sourced from our two coasts and Japan, and service is spot-on. However, I still prefer Sushi Yasuda which certainly isn’t as hard of a reservation–you’ll need luck getting a reservation at Nakazawa now that they have four stars from the NY Times.
The whole sushi bar is seated at the same time, and omakase service mostly starts together. If one person is very late, likely the whole service will be a little behind (that was me, whoops!).
When Yama on Irving goes completely downhill, the next best thing is making the walk to Tomoe and waiting on line. I still find it a big strange that their rolls are filled with finely chop leftover fish instead of solid chunks, but it melts in your mouth. I highly recommend the spicy scallop and maki combo! If you love sashimi, their sashimi or sushi sashimi combos are a really great value!
I tried Cafe Gitane, and I was so disappointed! I was expecting simple well executed food, but my Tuna Ceviche was so chewy! Why?! The idea sounded really great with glass noodles, bean sprouts, and mango, but I guess it’s my fault I ordered this instead of couscous (which also looked amazing).
As a kid who grew up in a Chinese take-out I remember well when the health inspectors would come with their snooty power-hungry faces, but of course that was in upstate NY. Somehow they always ended up taking an aloe plant with them…but yeah, that’s a story for another time. winky wink.
Anyway–it was very interesting to learn about damage control with PR for restaurants at work when suddenly popular NYC restaurants were going under scrutiny for a supposed grade they never actually received. In outlets like grubhub and nbc, certain restaurants were called out for having C grades while in reality you don’t get an actual letter grade until your SECOND inspection. The very PURPOSE from what I can see of this second inspection is to encourage restaurants to clean up their acts after their first. Surely, this doesn’t excuse the first inspection not being passed with flying colors, but if NYC gives restaurants in the city C’s to post on their windows, I can only imagine what kind of damage it would do to NYC’s restaurant business. They should at least have a chance to recover–. You can argue that in the end we will all benefit from cleaner restaurants, but one of the articles I read puts it in a really great way–this inspection is just a snapshot in time. It’s not to say that the next day will be the same, or that the restaurant is good or bad, but a mark like this displayed publicly can hurt customer relationships and the restaurant’s reputation that took numerous years to build.
I guess my suggestion would be to not post the violation points after the initial inspection to the public and make the first go more of a preliminary run through, unless it is an A. If a restaurant gets a lower score than an A, they should be allowed a second run-through. There should also be random spot checks from inspectors around the year to ensure this clean-up of the restaurant’s operations is not just before they know a 2nd round is coming within 4 weeks.
A few weeks ago before NBC broke the story about health codes and violations I had this talk with a friend of a friend. He defended many restaurants because as he stated, if they serve raw food they automatically get points deducted. While this isn’t technically correct (it just has to be at a certain temperature during storage except during necessary preparation), I understand what he was trying to get at. Some cuisines take more effort to maintain standards and don’t necessarily fit into the black and white. Sure, vermin and roaches aren’t so great, but when it comes to food prep–meh. I trust that the chefs in my favorite restaurants are prepping my food the right way. ”How do you want it cooked?” –”whatever, just let the chef decide.”
In the end, do I REALLY care about the letter in the window? Sure, if I’m on St. Marks trying a new asian restaurant and have to pick between two restaurants with a similar positioning and cuisine, but its not like I’m going to stop going to Yama. Gosh–what a SCARY thought!
My beloved Yama on 17th and Irving–the only restaurant where I’ll be upset if I’m not the mayor on foursquare?!
Yama got a whopping 49…that is…49 violation points! A super popular and delicious NYC Japanese restaurant…
Here’s a sample of why:
“1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
3) Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided.
4) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.
5) Other general violation.”
But can something as delicious as…
…be so bad? Okay, don’t answer that. Whatever. I’m happy eating my 49 violation point sushi. lol. Kanoyama is almost as bad with a 45, but that doesn’t really make me feel better. Their first inspection on 12/14/2010 gave it 22 violation points, and the 45 comes from 12/28/2010. I guess they will never learn -.-.
Don’t worry though…when things seem grim there’s always Sushi Yasuda with 12 points or Blue Ribbon Sushi with 18.
Nah, not worth the walk.
But whatever you do, don’t go to the Yama on Carmine Street. dun dun dun…
“3) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas”
because when it comes to mice, that is just crossing the line!