I returned to Soto last night. When they just opened, Jessica and I had dinner there before they got their liquor license. Not much has changed except you can now order liquor.
Soto is located on Sixth Avenue between West 4th and Washington Place. Big window with light wood blocking the view of diners inside. Easy to miss.
What I like is they are very long on uni. Two sides of the menu. One from the kitchen and the other from the sushi bar. We stuck with the sushi bar. There are some unbelievable plates from the sushi bar. The chyu toro tar tare is fantastic. Disc shaped presentation. Whipped avocado coulis on top about 1/8" over chopped blue fin fatty tuna and garnished with black caviar some chopped chives and served in a sesame ponzu sauce. Special tiny spoons are given to eat the dish. A big wow. The kampachi tar tare is also brilliant. Chopped kampachi also in a round shape and a crispy piece of wasabi tobiko is wrapped around the kampachi that stands tall about 2 inches. Really beautiful with some pine nuts served on the top. The pine nuts really make the dish. Next to this are two foamy white gefilte fish looking pieces. You take a spoon of the fish and dip it in the soy foam. A total wow. The most creative dish was the uni ika sugomori zukuri. Sea urchin that has been wrapped in thinly sliced squid in a large round shape (like an egg) with a tiny quail egg served in a small depression on top sitting in a soy reduction. Talk about rich but divine. The rest of our meal was just okay. At one point, I might be interesting and trying other dishes because there are probably other wows on the menu. I would go back too.
We also had the geoduck clam salad which wasn’t that interesting. Large chopped raw clams served in a Japanese cucumber, daikon shiso and radish sprouts salad with a ginger sauce. The sushi is not that great either. Way too heavy handed on the wasabi. The sushi is not soft and buttery. Here the sushi is cold and isn’t that tasteful. Could have been the night. The rice is also cold and a tad hard. Didn’t enjoy that part of the meal.
The service is fantastic. Yet at the end of the day, the one thing that drives me crazy in there is the lighting. Reminds me a bit of sushi dives in Los Angeles strip malls. It is so bright in there I feel like I am in a hospital ward. If somebody could just lower the lights 30%, the entire ambiance of the restaurant would change. Soto was not packed but full. I think it has to do with the vibe. A tad too sterile for the Village? Believe me, it is just the lights. Change them!