Breakfast of Champions: pizza in NYC after a red-eye

August 22nd, 2014, 12pm

It was 21.7°C with scattered clouds. The wind was light.

Thanks to a monkey bra and microclimate1, the red eye from San Francisco to JFK wasn’t nearly as bad as it usually is and by 9:30am I’m happily tucking into a Doughnut Plant doughnut 2 on the Lower East Side. A trip to New York typically is planned around things to eat and it just doesn’t seem complete without a doughnut from Doughnut Plant. I’m such a fan of their doughnuts (particularly those of the cake variety) that I made a point of finding their Tokyo branch in the labyrinth that is known as Shinjuku Station.

When you are in New York another thing you have to have pizza. There is just so much of it and a lot of it is really good, both on the high and low end. By comparison, the good pizza options in San Francisco are rather limited. On the recommendation of a friend we went to Rubirosa in Nolita. It’s somewhere between your basic pizza and something a bit fancier, serving crisp, cracker thin pizza that remains stiff when held by the crust. They also serve a solid spaghetti and meatballs on homemade noodles that have a bit of the rough springiness that is more typical in good ramen noodles.

The topper of an amazing food day was sushi at Sushi Nakazawa, a fairly new restaurant started by a disciple of the three Michelin starred restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo3. You know when you have one of those experiences that just totally recalibrates the way look at something? This was one of those experiences. It’s probably better just to put this in a different class altogether and not even think of it as sushi.

Each of the nine courses came out with just two or three pieces on the plate already seasoned by the chef. There is no soy sauce and wasabi on the table for the diner to adjust the flavor. Just ginger to cleanse your palate between courses. Not all the preparations were strictly traditional, often incorporating yuzu koshou, or smoking a piece of fish over hay, but the variety provided with just fish, rice and some condiments was exceptional. The contrast or complementary nature of each plate was amazing, whether it was the subtle textural or flavor shifts between two pieces of shellfish, hotate and mirugai, for example, or the difference between a shrimp that had been lightly boiled and a raw spot prawn. You could tell everything was very carefully considered.

All in all a truly memorable first day.

  1. As prosthelytized by Craig Mod in his essay Let’s Fly

  2. Peach, a seasonal doughnut with a subtle hint of the fruit. Too often when people try to execute a flavor like this the balance is off or it ends up tasting artificial. Possibly my favorite of their regular offerings is the tres leches doughnut. 

  3. There is a good documentary about Jiro’s approach called Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Shu said thanks.

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Michael Silva

a somewhat undisciplined existence.

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