Cheat Sheet: Under-the-Radar Japanese at Hirohisa
The Gist: A recently opened Japanese gem that focuses on more than just sushi (and deserves a little more buzz).
The Story: Chef Hirohisa Hayashi opened this subdued eatery in SoHo last year, and while he hasn't received as much buzz as some of his countrymen (hello, Nakazawa), the small eatery's Kappo-style dining has gained critical accolades. You'll experience more than raw fish as chef showcases the cuisine of the Echizen region of the country.
Eat This: Anything with uni. Sea urchin played a prominent - and umami-packed - roel on our visit, and if you are still ambivalent about this favorite ingredient of foodies you'll leave here a convert. The best bite we had was slices of urchin served over cubes of house-made tofu (another ingredient used to magical effect in this kitchen). Crazy amounts of salmon roe also make appearances - digging into a bowl of white rice topped with the orange orbs was akin to reaching into a candy dish and scooping up fistfuls of M&Ms.
Skip This: We remember ordering the lamb, but the details of the dish are hazy. With such clean and powerful flavors hidden throughout the seafood selection, the meat didn't sing to us in the same way. Thankfully you can order half-sized portions from this side of the menu, which lets you sample without committing.
Drink This: There's an excellent by the glass sake selection - the Echizen province is known for it's production - and a staff ready to guide you toward the funky or fresh, depending on your preference.
The Crowd: It's a quiet affair here - there is plenty of space between tables and you can actually have a conversation. We overheard one couple excitedly explain "we read about this in the Times," referring to the venue's recent one-star review.
Cool Tidbit: The region that inspired the restaurant is known for its pottery, and here you can experience it first hand in the form of your sake glass. Feels nice....
The Details: 73 Thompson St.; 212-925-1613