Earlier this year, we got to check out Plan Do See’s famous Bubusan and Azabu New York. On Saturday, we went back to Azabu for their premier dining experience. The bottom level of the restaurant boasts a world-class Omakase experience: The Den. Nestled into a quiet street in Hudson Square, the New York location of Azabu Sushi draws inspiration from its wildly successful Miami counterpart while bringing in elements of New York charm.
It boasts a new name, new menu, and new space: Azabu New York aims to transport guests to Tokyo’s Azabu neighborhood, known today for its laid-back, chic vibe but originally as a hub for merchants and traders.
The interior of Azabu New York’s space is inspired by Buddhist and Shinto aesthetic qualities, with calming, simple decor, a hidden sliding-door entrance, and Noguchi lamps. Architect Ian Bentley of NOISE was the creative mind behind the new design. The Den emulates Buddhist design and Azabu captures Shinto elements, with its soft blonde wood counters and touches of cobalt blue.
We stopped by their happy hour launch a few months ago to sample some cocktails and excellently crafted nigiri, and learn more about the revamped Azabu’s mission. Sake, white wine, and red wine were served in beautifully designed cups as guests attending the launch settled into the clean, cozy space. We loved that happy hour, and were highly anticipating the opening of The Den, their second concept location of the Michelin-starred omakase speakeasy inside Azabu Miami Beach.
Our meal at The Den was an expertly crafted experience, led by Chef Toshihide Terado, who has over 20 years of culinary experience across the globe. The meal consisted of a series of appetizers, a toro tasting, chef’s choice seasonal nigiri, and finished off with miso soup and dessert. We started off with a carafe of Suijin Junmai sake, which was served in ornamental aluminum cups designed to conduct and maintain the temperature of the drink. It was the refreshing palate cleanser I craved and kept reaching for throughout the meal.
The few courses were a delish spread of crab salad, a mackerel preparation, squid and mantis shrimp. Each was bursting with flavor, both sweet and savory, and watching the careful creation of each dish took eating it to the next level. The nigiri portion of the Omakase began with a toro tasting: Akami (lean tuna), Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), O-toro (fatty tuna) came out prepared with real wasabi, soy sauce, and sudachi (japanese lime). We had about 4 more pieces of nigiri which all blew me away, but my favorite was the Sanma which is also a type of mackerel. We wrapped up the meal with my favorite course of the night: uni rice topped with salmon roe and more firm uni. Decadent, creamy, and briny, this dish combined two of my favorite seafood items into one delicious flavor profile carried by the rice. After those amazing courses, we had some light and fluffy japanese omlette, comforting miso soup, and finished off the meal with the most juicy melon I’ve ever had.
Eating at The Den is an experience that treats all the senses, and it’s clear to see why the original Miami location earned a Michelin star. I loved all the dishes and the Chef’s explanations, and can’t wait to try more of Azabu New York’s offerings.