Lara also is founder and editor of Grits in the City
While I really enjoy sushi, I had yet to find my “go to” spots in the city for good fresh sushi. It seems to be something that most of my friends don’t suggest and I just hadn’t gotten around to trying. So, when a friend wanted to try a sushi restaurant on the Upper West Side, I was all for trying out his recommendation.
Amber is a nice sized restaurant, with a fair amount of seating at the bar, a main dining area, and also a dining area in a separate room closest to the windows facing out towards 70th Street. As has been my experience in most nice Japanese restaurants, the decor was simple, crisp, very organized and methodical.
We started off with their miso soup, which was very fresh and perfect for the cold day (my one complaint would be the lovely window-framed room is mighty cold in the winter). I also had the Japanese Seaweed Salad, which came with a miso dressing. The menu denoted this as spicy – don’t know that I would agree, but I will say the salad was amazing. The dressing totally made the dish. My friend had the Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Roll which was accompanied by a chilihoisin sauce. There were four decent sized pieces by summer roll standards. Amber offers a variety of appetizers, most in the $5-$10 range.
Sushi, including the “Ocean Roll” I’d never tried nigiri sushi, which was an interesting transition from the maki sushi rolls of which I have had many. They are definitely a more filling option, although I think I prefer the texture and overall lighter nature of maki. For nigiri, we had their sea scallops, yellowfin tuna, and shrimp. For maki rolls, we had one of their tuna rolls and also one of their specialty rolls, the Ocean Roll. It was rock shrimp and avocado topped with spicy snow crab and dry seaweed – definitely the best roll I’ve ever had, period. Unique mixture of tastes and textures. Just spot-on.
They, of course, have an excellent selection of sake. Note their size between a glass and a bottle? Best not attempted to be split amongst two… Overall, excellent service and food quality. I’ll be looking to try more sushi now within the city, but in the meantime, I’d say definitely an option worth checking out.
Amber – 221 Columbus Avenue (at West 70th Street) – 212.799.8100