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New in Albertson: Sakaya

Chirashi at Sakaya, a Japanese restaurant in Albertson.

Chirashi at Sakaya, a Japanese restaurant in Albertson. Newsday photo / Erica Marcus (April 15, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

Sakaya takes over the freestanding building that used to house Hokkaido. On a recent Friday evening, the family-with-kids crowd was gradually giving way to a more clubby clientele. The place certainly looks swanky. The large space has been smartly organized into four distinct dining zones: After you pass the bar / lounge at the entrance there is a spacious central dining room, a row of window-side tables on a raised platform, a sushi bar and a large hibachi room behind glass panels inside of which water cascades dramatically.

I ordered my standard first-visit-to-a-sushi bar chirashi (raw fish scattered artfully over a bowl of rice) and it was fine. The most striking thing about this dish was that it came with neither soup nor salad. What a relief not to have to dutifully plow through another desultory miso soup nor watery, over-chilled, iceberg-heavy salad. Instead I ordered an appetizer of oshitashi, cold spinach served with a dipping sauce and bonito flakes (made from shaved, dried tuna). Sadly, the spinach had been over-chilled to near iciness.

Sakaya is at 1162 Willis Ave., Albertson, 516-621-1887.

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