Ramen, the soul-warming Japanese invention of noodles in a savory broth, has been big in the Big Apple ever since über-chef David Chang first opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village close to a decade ago. These days, the city is peppered with ramen houses, many of them also serving yakitori, Japanese skewered grilled meat, fish or vegetables.
Now, with the birth of Daisho of Japan in Huntington, the ramen-yakitori phenom lands on Long Island. True, this casual new eatery also offers sushi and a number of Asian dishes, but it's far from just another suburban fusion restaurant.
You could start off with yakitori -- or make a meal out of several kinds. Hard to believe that a few pieces of scallion, threaded onto a wooden stick, could have so much smoky appeal. Or that plain-looking strips of pork could unleash such flavor-intense juices. Bacon-wrapped quail eggs juxtapose the salty with the creamy-rich while bacon-wrapped grilled asparagus becomes something complex and compelling. Also threaded onto sticks: succulent spicy shrimp, briny smelts, juicy pieces of chicken -- even a whole chicken wing. Only the beef seems a bit on the dry side.
Here, ramen soup makes for a hearty and satisfying meal. The pork soup base is hyper flavorsome and rich, the noodles fresh and pliant. Also in the bowl are bean sprouts, cabbage and a hard-cooked egg. Choose a protein, such as smoky roast pork, velvety beef or grilled eel. As the weather chills, soup such as this can become a necessity.
The sushi bar sends out impeccably fresh fish and rice at proper consistency and temperature. There's a vibrant rainbow roll and, for those who don't appreciate the raw, a dragon roll made with eel, avocado and cucumber. Were it not for the trivializing presence of surimi in the chirashi -- an assortment of well-cut finfish over seasoned rice -- that dish would have been ideal.
From the Asian fusion roster comes a spicy-fruity mango chicken and shrimp-studded pad Thai seasoned to be fierce yet not fiery. General Tso's chicken -- batter-fried chunks of poultry in a sweet-hot sauce -- has just the right crunch and zing.
The only finale served is ice cream in flavors such as red bean and green tea. Shippable. Food such as Daisho's deserves a worthy dessert -- or none at all.