Ok it’s not that exciting, but it is a hellovalotta fun.
So my friend about two months ago said “clear the night of the 25th. We’re going for secret sushi.” I did, I forgot about, a chime dinged on my phone about two months later and it said “secret sushi” and I had no idea what to expect.
Rolling down on a frost filled evening, cold like the city smoked a menthol, we all congregated in the exquisitely pedestrian lobby of the Hotel 32/32, which if you’ve never heard of, don’t worry, no one else has either. I’m convinced it was named for professional alcoholics as the name is also its address, very convinient.
At some point a woman came up to our party of 4 and said we could go up now to the hotel room. Somewhere, seemingly randomly on the 10th floor we ponied up to a hotel room door. We turned the knob. We entered. We were greeted to this:
My first impression was “Oh, this is something Stephan from SNL would mention. But you know, real.” because here I was, in a sushi restaurant, in a small NYC hotel room. I’m sure you have already read the stories, but honey, trust, you honestly don’t get the full effect till you see it for yourself.
We were seated on a small chaise and given the option between two drinks. They were beautifully crafted and delicious, and the wait staff (of one) was extremely attentive (we were the only customers). When the Itame (sushi chef, I’ll stop now) was ready for us, we saddled up (lots of cowboy references in this post, sorry, last one) to the makeshift sushi bar up against the corner of the room.
It was a very, very, intimate setting.
“Hey folks my name David, I’m a Jewish kid from Long Island, and also your sushi chef!” Perhaps it didn’t come out that succinctly, but that was the quick gist we got within minutes, which I mention because Chef David is really the main course of this dining experience.
It is not strange to me to have a non-Japanese Itame; anyone can learn any trade regardless of race or religion or taste in sports teams, and that is what makes the world great. What I’ve never experienced was such a boisterous, talkative, interactive, salty, wise-cracking, are-you-cooking-for-us-or-eating-with-us, dining experience ever in my life, and this includes eating at home with my Italian mother who talks like a shark swims (i.e. constantly, I give up.) Chef David is an entertainer as much as he is a master sushi chef, and make no mistake, his sushi is spot on. I’ve had the stuff all over the world, from the very finest to the side-liners, and it’s up there at the top. It’s David that adds a special flavor to the meal, one that is very distinct, and perhaps not for everyone, but certainly unique.
The 17 pieces of sushi are prepared in front of you with a constant stream of conversation over the next half hour. David explains not only what your eating, the type of cut, why he likes it, but also where he’s from, how his father used to walk funny, how expensive his knifes are, and what he thinks about Long Island. I should point out that he also mentioned that he’s good at reading the room, “I know when people want to sit in silence and just want to eat, but if I feel like you want convo, I’m more than happy to open up to you.” which I do believe. Chef David is creating an experience that is beyond any other dining experience out there. You simply can’t replicate this, not only just the weirdness of eating in a random hotel room, but also him. He is the main course.
After our carousel of tastes from the sea were concluded, I was able to jump behind the bar with him for a few pics together, which he was more than happy to take. I’ve read a lot about him, his personality, and the trouble he’s gotten in to, but, to me, he just seemed like a guy who is really passionate about creating an experience, and sharing his knowledge in a specific food culture that is very strict and reserved. To that I say good luck my new friend, and if you do get an invite to join him for secret sushi, it’s definitely not to be passed up. How do you go? Good question … but I hear he’s opening one in Miami in Versace’s Mansion, so Floridians prepare.
Roberto Serrini is a professional filmmaker who records his adventures in word, photography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a drone operator. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.