Top 10 Sushi sensations
BY JOAN REMINICK
Aki Japanese Cuisine , 2074 Jericho Tpke., E. Northport, 631-486-8910, akisushili.com. Try to ignore the colored lights and chopped ice on some of the sushi platters. They're unnecessary, since the raw fish at this modern Japanese restaurant shines on its own, thanks to head sushi chef Henry Hu. Yellowtail with jalapeños plays cool mild slices of fish against spicy peppers. I'm happy with the sashimi plate, every piece delicate and well cut. Fresh fish and ideal rice temperature and consistency distinguish the maki rolls. Favorites include the "Michelle special of crab, avocado and cucumber on the inside topped with spicy tuna, as well as the "San Francisco, comprising spicy tuna, grilled eel, avocado, cucumber, tempura flakes, roe and barbecue sauce.
Kiss'O , 1532 Union Tpke., New Hyde Park, 516-355-0587, kisso-sushi.com. The fish is super fresh, cut and rolled with skill and creativity by sushi chef Kenny "Moto Yung at this well-regarded standby. Simple salmon, yellowtail and tuna nigirizushi come over slightly warm ovals of rice. I order sashimi a la carte; scallops are sweet and fresh, with a luxurious mouthfeel. I taste ocean breezes in the uni (sea urchin). Chutoro and otoro, two kinds of fatty tuna, prove a treat. Rolls are both inventive and satisfying. I especially like the "nut roll -- shrimp, cucumber, avocado and tobiko topped with chopped cashews. And you can't go wrong with the fine spicy tuna roll.
Show Win , 325 Fort Salonga Rd., Northport, 631-261-6622, sushishowwin.com. For the past 12 years, sushi chef Tom Yap has gotten a well-deserved reputation for some of the zippiest, most delectable sushi rolls around. If wacky rolls are what you're hankering for, your search ends here. While both the sushi and sashimi are fresh and well presented, you'll find similar platters elsewhere. It's the rolls that keep 'em coming. Favorites include the "king, a deft combination of spicy tuna and onion with sliced tuna and avocado on top; the "redhead, its interior of avocado, cucumber and tempura flakes crowned with chopped spicy tuna, and the "Rochelle -- eel, avocado, tempura flakes, topped with tobiko and spicy tuna.
Aji 53 , 53 E. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-591-3107, aji53.com In a downtown Bay Shore spot, you'll not only find big-time vibe and a "fusion menu. Sushi chef Ken Zheng also serves some seriously fine raw fish. A platter called "tri color three ways features immaculately cut tuna, salmon and yellowtail presented as both sashimi and nigirizushi, along with a tri-colored maki roll in a spicy Cajun sauce. My favorite fancy composition is the "Valentine roll, made of spicy crunchy tuna wrapped with fresh tuna and cleverly fashioned into the shape of a heart. There's also the lively "Fire Island roll -- shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna and wasabi tobiko served with a wasabi olive sauce.
Kumo , 18 Manetto Hill Mall, Plainview, 516-681-8881, kumosushi.net Sushi chef Louis Lin and four others make up the whiz-bang team putting out an impressive array of fresh and often inventive raw fish combinations. Chirashi -- octopus, fluke, yellowtail, tuna, salmon and mackerel -- comprises a generous serving, plated with artistry. In season, December through April, sweet shrimp piled atop sushi rice can be a real treat. Don't miss the "eggplant sandwich (listed as an appetizer), which has a major "wow factor. The ingenious construct starts with deep-fried eggplant, layered with spicy lobster, spicy tuna and, finally, raw salmon, finished with a drizzle of creamy, piquant sauce.
Kotobuki , 377 Nesconset Hwy., Hauppauge, 631-360-3969. At the flagship restaurant of this mega-successful chainlet, sushi chef Kenny Muraki consistently turns out super-fresh raw fish in portions that surpass generous. The drawbacks? Rushed service, high noise levels and cheek-to-jowl seating. A sushi and sashimi combo is gorgeously cut -- tuna, yellowtail, fluke, salmon and more, plus a California roll. I'm happy with the zesty spicy tuna roll, but if you want to take that a step beyond, try the rainbow roll No. 2, a spicy tuna roll wrapped in multicolored fish. Or go for the over-the-top American dream roll, a combination of several varieties of fish, eel, tobiko and spicy mayo drizzled with a sweet sauce.
Yamaguchi, 63 Main St., Port Washington, 516-883-3500 For 20 years, chef-owner Akira Yamaguchi has made high quality and attention to detail priorities. I am impressed with the chef's special Japanese assortment: sweet scallops, uni (sea urchin) that taste of the sea, giant clam, toro, imported Japanese kampachi (yellowtail) and red snapper, as well as salmon, accompanied by a lush negitoro roll (fatty tuna with scallions). The roster is simple, in true Japanese tradition. Still, you can get an excellent spicy tuna roll or a bright rainbow roll.
Alan Kim, Cirella's at Saks Fifth Avenue
Satsuki , 47 Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook, 516-599-1713. Skilled sushi chef Hisashi Manabe, who emigrated from Japan in 1976, has been crafting simple, perfect raw fish creations for 20 years at this hideaway beneath the Long Island Rail Road trestle. His fish is pristine, his touch extraordinarily light. Manabe's flawless chirashi is beautifully arranged over subtly vinegared, perfectly cooked rice. A nigirizushi combination features salmon, tuna, hamachi and fluke, the quality of fish and rice informing every bite. The Koko roll, named for Manabe's late wife, may sound ordinary (cooked shrimp, cucumber and mayonnaise), but it's ethereal. Its floaty quality imbues the "new roll, tuna tartare with salmon and tempura flakes.
Nisen Sushi , 7967 Jericho Tpke. (Woodbury Village Shopping Center), Woodbury, 516-496-7000, nisensushi.com In a loungy, hi-glam setting, you'll find a sushi lover's wonderland, where even the humble tuna roll is transporting. Executive chef Osan Weng, born in China, offers top-quality fish cut with precision, artfully presented. Nigirizushi is perfectly cut and made with grains that are slightly warm, neither too firm nor too soft. Toro, tuna, salmon, yellowtail and fluke are uniformly impeccable. Even the seaweed wrapper on the tuna roll seems better than most. Try the yellowtail jalapeño roll for a jolt of fresh bright- green chile pepper against cool, mild fish. Spicy tuna and salmon rolls come off as silky little firecrackers.
Not long ago, I faced a great challenge: How could I open my mouth wide enough to fit in a maki roll so big, so intimidating that it threatened to eat me first? I was on a quest to find Long Island's best sushi, and this surely wasn't it. Nor was the dull, icy-raw sashimi that accompanied it. But my search for sushi excellence did have its rewards. Given all the overwrought careless stuff out there, greatness isn't hard to recognize. It announces itself at the first voluptuous bite. So here, in order of preference, are my picks for the Top 10 sushi restaurants on Long Island. --BY JOAN REMINICK