Looking at the Zagat sign which hung prominently at the door of Kotobuki’s Roslyn location, one of the paraphrased reviewers called it “Long Island’s answer to Nobu”. I chuckled and read on. 27 points was the tally on the food score. Impressive.
Then I reminded myself that Zagat scores are not consistent. Being user-driven, a 27 from the city does not equate to a 27 from the suburbs.
With its no reservation policy (strange for a Long Island destination), lines are always stretching out the door at Kotobuki. This was a wealthy neighborhood, with a well to do clientele. These people don’t like to wait. In the 30 minutes or so I spent at the door, I saw a good dozen potential diners turn around and head to other dining establishments nearby. A very solid MP Taverna is right around the block.
When we finally got our seats, I went straight for the sushi portion of the menu. Not only was the selection extremely limiting, I was was also informed that the Toro and Abalone were not available tonight. Hoping that the ingredient sourcing was based on what’s fresh and available, rather than what’s on the menu, I inquired about ingredients that were not on the menu. I was told there is none.
A premium Japanese restaurant without scallops, toro, egg, and get this – hamachi.
While my fellow diners tackled a massive sushi for 3 platter, which came with appetizers and a salad, I ordered 4 pieces of sushi a-la-carte.
Sampling selectively from their meal, I was sad to see that the oysters were deep fried, coated with butter, and placed back into its shell. What’s wrong with serving the wonderful Long Island oysters raw?
Then came the grand patter. To the untrained eye, this looked impressive. Then you realize that it doesn’t come with any ingredients of “higher value”. There’s twice as much salmon than Tuna, lots of avocado packed rolls. If you thought the menu selections were limiting, the selection in the “sushi for x” platters are downright shameful.
They also forgot the wasabi.
Meanwhile, on my side of the table, I was chowing down on octopus, clams, sweet shrimp and uni. The clams looked to be previously frozen, and was quite a disappointment. Uni and sweet shrimp were good, but it’s hard to mess these up.
It’s been almost 20 years since Nobu Matsuhisa opened his groundbreaking fusion restaurant, which set the standard. Even as Nobu’s creations are starting to show its age, it as a yardstick of Japanese fusion cuisine. Having experienced Kotobuki, it is not even in the same league as the Tribeca classic.
What does this rating mean?
1530 Old Northern Blvd
Roslyn, NY 11576