—Sushi gets the omakase, speakeasy treatment in the back of Jersey City’s Ani Ramen House.
Remember when we all lost it after a secret booze-infused ice cream shop opened in the back of Ani Ramen? It was tasty while it lasted, however the weather as of late hasn’t left me in the mood for any sort of frosty treat. But I ask you, is there ever a wrong time for sushi? The answer is obvious, thanks to David Bouhadana’s famous omakase experience Sushi by Bou, now occupying the former venue.
Sushi by Bou officially opened this past December and is Jersey City’s first-ever sushi speakeasy. The well-known chain has had years of success in locations across America, popping up in cities such as New York and Miami. Omakase itself traditionally entails either a 30 or 60-minute timed dining experience where guests are guided through a multi-course tasting menu chosen by the chef. The Japanese phrase omakase means “I’ll leave it up to you,” so guests won’t know what they’re eating until they’ve actually arrived.
At Sushi by Bou in Jersey City, they’re redefining the restaurant construct. There are no dining tables, only an eight-seat sushi bar where guests are seated every 60 minutes on the dot. And the kicker, there’s no servers either. Due to the intimate nature of the omakase experience and the allotted speakeasy space, the chefs pass dishes to the guests directly over the counter. Although there is no formal menu in place, guests can expect 12 courses of high-quality, locally-sourced fish in a variety of preparations.
To complement the meal’s progression, there’s also a number of beverage offerings to sip on. Think Japanese beers, imported sake, rare Japanese whisky and signature craft cocktails using traditional Asian ingredients. The Shiso Southsider is made with Suntory Haku vodka, shiso leaves, simple syrup and lime juice; the Roku Martini features Suntory Roku gin, Kabuto sake and olives; and they’re putting their own spin on an old fashioned with Legent Bourbon, Angostura bitters and roasted barley syrup.
While the timing may seem limited and the course amount abundant, know that Bouhadana designed his omakase sushi experience to be all about trust. Trusting the chef’s vision, the dinner’s pacing and on behalf of the guest, being prompt. Seriously, if you’re late they’ll have no choice but to start without you so it’s of paramount importance to show up on time.
While this one-of-a-kind dining experience is synonymous with a rather steep price tag, a night at Sushi by Bou will only run you $50 per person (and $13 for cocktails). I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of budget I can get behind and I assure you, Sushi by Bou is right on par with the best of them.
Photography by Peter Bonacci