A food very familiar to frequent Great Neck diners, sushi can be found on nearly every block of the village, each restaurant approaching this Japanese delicacy from a different angle. This upsurge of creativity has led all of the sushi bars on the peninsula to compete with one another, leading many to close.
Great Neck’s newest addition to the sushi scene, Shoshaku, on 68 Middle Neck Rd. in Mizu’s former location, approaches sushi from a much more professional and modern way than most of its competitors, greatly emphasizing quality fish while, at the same time, creating new sushi rolls prepared using both traditional and contemporary cooking techniques.
The eatery’s decor is a touch more upscale than its predecessor. The dining room is much brighter and the overall ambiance is more state-of-the-art. From polished wood floors and tables to contemporary metal chairs to fresh plants scattered throughout, a great level of attention is devoted to each detail in the restaurant.
Nice additions to the already modernized space are new light fixtures supported by a stylish black metal structure hanging about the sushi bar and a small wine bar accompanied by cute Japanese cat figurines.
Prices are rather typical for Great Neck sushi bars, with appetizers ranging from $5 for simple edamame to $14 for beef tataki, sushi rolls from $5 for yellowtail and salmon rolls to $22 for a king crab and wagyu roll and entrées from $9 for kale noodles to $28 for a high-quality sashimi rice bowl.
Many of the cold appetizers parallel those of other sushi eateries, like a delicious yellowtail carpaccio with chives and lemon or spicy tuna tartare. An exception to the norm is Holy Grenade, in which avocado is positioned in a way that houses spicy tuna inside and is served alongside homemade veggie chips.
The small-plates selection resembles that of an upscale sushi bar in Japan, featuring more traditional options, such as grilled mackerel, grilled whole squid, deep-fried baby octopus and yuzu pepper scallops. For non-seafood starters, try avocado and king oyster mushroom or zucchini itame (stir fry).
The selection of sushi stands out from other competitors in that many traditional sushi rolls are almost reinvented to better reflect changing food trends. While classics, like a salmon avocado or chicken tempura rolls, are popular, other nonconventional rolls like the Day Dreamer with cajun-spice yellowtail or Triple Crown with white tuna, pepper tuna and spicy tuna shine, the combination of ingredients working together harmoniously to produce a cohesive roll.
In addition, an omakase tasting menu, available for around $67, allows the sushi chef to create his own impressive selection of traditional sushi served a la carte.
Shoshaku further distances itself from competitors in that non-sushi entrées offer diners a contemporary approach to traditional Japanese dishes rarely seen in the New York area. The selection of noodle dishes, like yaki soba with chicken or shrimp, are topped with a sunny-side up egg that, when broken, binds the dish together, so the noodles are fantastically coated in a light soy sauce complimented by savory chicken and fresh chives.
Other dishes, such as creamy udon noodles with spicy cod fish roe and poached egg or nabeyaki udon with assorted seafood, show the diversity of Japanese cooking. Donburi rice bowls with a choice of tuna or salmon poke, garlic oyster, chicken and egg, freshwater eel and mixed sashimi are fantastic, as the rice absorbs the various sauces and marinades.
Something never-before seen in Great Neck, the Teishoku dinners, Japanese set meals, present diners with an authentic option that combines various flavors and textures. From sautéed mixed vegetables to salmon teriyaki and more traditional options like atka mackerel, each dinner comes with miso soup, salad, rice and tsukemono, preserved vegetables like radish and cornichons.
My order, the saba shioyaki with grilled mackerel, was fantastic with a touch of lemon. The fish had a bit of a pungent odor but was delectable with its salty, crispy skin. The fermented vegetables and the steamed carrots and broccoli were also excellent touches to an already stellar dish, proving that Shoshaku’s attentiveness to detail and cleverness regarding flavor combinations may lead the restaurant to much success.