It’s safe to say I’ve made my rounds reviewing the novel eateries in the still-developing Pointe at Barclay shopping center. Truth is, it’s been a mixed bag of hungry emotions and there’s only a few I’d honestly swing back into for a second round.
Nori, you’ve officially made it onto my nice list.
I’m always curious to check out a new restaurant on an off-day as opposed to a weekend, so my date and I popped into Nori on what I thought would be a slower Monday evening. The dining room surprisingly was busy for the beginning of the work week, when most locals aren’t out to eat. The interior was clean and bright, and we set up shop just in front of the sushi rollers. What can I say? I like a little show with my dinner.
Immediately, we were acknowledged and given menus and water, and our bartender dove right into the recommendations. “The ‘Tuna on Fire’ is by far one of our most popular starters,” she exclaimed before I could even ask about house specialties. Props for being one step ahead, Ms. Bartender. As we scoured the rest of the selections, we requested two Kirins, which came out ice cold. Speaking of liquid lineup, the craft beer selection was a bit weak, but, let’s be honest, most beer snobs would take a Sapporo to support their sushi over a tangerine IPA any day.
Our app came out quickly and was a balanced mixture of thinly slivered cucumbers and pinky rare tuna slices crusted in a bold spice blend, on top of a citrusy soy-ponzu sauce. The paper-thin magenta ribbons (possibly beets or heirloom carrots?) were a colorful addition and gave the silky tuna a crunch. I didn’t find the overall dish particularly spicy, but the seasoning dusted on the exterior gave it a well-rounded boost of flavor. The light fare tickled the palate without weighing us down before our meal.
I wanted to sample items from different parts of the menu, so we opted for sharing egg drop soup. The savory, unctuous notes of egg in the comforting broth were spot on, but the corn was a precarious twist. The kernels certainly added a sweet pop and contrast of texture, though, I could have done without them. Also, vegetarians beware: there are bits of (yummy) chicken floating about the traditionally meat-free soup.
I’m a sucker for specialty sushi rolls; I like substantial, more complex combinations of fillings and sauces. The Spider Roll, with soft-shell crab, was on the tip of my tongue, but when I mentioned the Lobster Tempura Roll as a possible alternative, our enthusiastic server didn’t skip a beat.
“Lobster Tempura Roll. All. Day. Long.”
I’m super impressed when someone in the service industry gives me a humble, honest opinion instead of being lazy in their suggestions—treating me like I’ve never seen a tomato. That being said, I was surprised when our server, who had been quite straightforward until this point, gave me (what I thought) was a precarious answer upon questioning a component of the dish.
On the menu, the Lobster Roll’s main elements were listed as “avocado, cucumber, tempura lobster, and lobster salad.” Call me crazy, but the only protein “salad” I’ve ever had is one mixed with a touch of mayo. The inside of the roll was stuffed only with veggies and fried lobster. I expected to see either a creamy lobster salad inside or on top of the roll, but no additional lobster was anywhere to be found. If the lobster salad was supposed to come as a garnish on the roll, our server pointed to the exterior of the rice and claimed the thin orange layer was, in fact, lobster salad. The outside of the roll was a mixture of orange tobiko (fish roe) and pale crunchy bits, but nowhere in sight was “lobster salad.”
If I’m way off here, I apologize, but it felt like I had asked where the pickle was on my cheeseburger and someone pointed to the lettuce: “There!” Other than that, the four-piece barrel seemed a bit small for a specialty roll and I would have liked a touch more eel sauce than just a splash on the plate. Flavor-wise, everything was fresh and I don’t doubt the rest of the sushi menu is solid.
For those not so into the sushi movement, I decided to test out a hearty, traditional Asian entrée. General Tso’s chicken was by far some of the best I’ve had—particularly in comparison to what I’m used to finding in a greasy takeout box. The white meat was fried in a sturdy, yet delicate coating, and the sauce was tangy, sweet and definitely made from scratch. While several of the smaller pieces tasted over-fried and more like batter than chicken, the larger morsels were super tender, and the rice was super fluffy. I also would have preferred a green veg like broccoli to balance out the protein, but that’s just me. To each his own.
Overall, Nori offered standout service, super fresh cuisine, and an inviting atmosphere. Keep on rolling, guys!