Someone out there in Denver owes me an American dollar. And I know where she lives! The bet was that taking my immediate extended family (The Joy Suck Club) to something like Blue Ribbon Sushi will be a big flop. Last time I attempted this, we wind up in Rosa Mexicano due to the reluctance of the Denverphile who should pay me another dollar for enduring another meal at Rosa Mexicano. The belief of the Denverite is that Blue Ribbon Sushi is all about that.. Sushi, and blue ribbons and stuff. And that this is simply a disastrous match to the members of some of the pickiest eaters on the planet.
Introducing the Joy Suck Club….
One is so picky that anything remotely slimy will make her puke in her mouth a little. Forget Oysters. I’m talking about mushrooms! She had her first mushroom at the age of 65, and said it was “ok”
One requires everything well well well done. Forget steak! I’m talking about pasta and eggs.
One likes generally everything, but will immediately tell you where you can get this better somewhere else even though he doesnt get out much. “I understand this is prime meat, aged 60 days and perfectly cooked. But there’s this place near where I live who does it better”
One can not handle anything with… whats the word I’m looking for… Flavor. The dish requires zero flavor whatsoever. No sauce, no seasoning. I will take the Spaghetti alle Vongole, without the Vongole please.
And then there’s the one who needs proper lighting to enjoy his meal. And by proper I mean nothing short but stadium power, blinding kind. “This is good, but I cant see anything. I would like to see what I’m eating please”
In other words, everything sucks!
To them we are freaks of nature. “You are eating uncooked meat. Should I call an ambulance now, or you’ll do it later in the middle of the night”. And so with us in the mix I’m constantly looking for that balance. Italian normally works, but gets a little challenging in the theater district (if nowhere near Mercato). At Blue Ribbon I have a secret weapon that the Denverite may not know about. Chicken! And Salmon! Not to mention steak, the sickest fried rice dish in town, and a very full menu. But what I like about Blue Ribbon and large groups more is that I can reserve at any time, and have a family style meal. I’ve done it with co-workers, and now it even passed the Joy Suck Club. The biggest test there is
Blue Ribbon Sushi has been a staple in the Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide, even though depending on how full the moon is, and who you ask, may or may not be in Hell’s Kitchen. But deliciousness has no borders. And Blue Ribbon needs to be in a neighborhood like HK. Blue Ribbon is a chain, but one should not hold it against them. While you can find their sensational oxtail fried rice with bone marrow and omelette downtown as well, they do some things unique to this location. Like the Ika Shoga, simply sauteed squid with ginger and garlic. Why no one else does this is a mystery to me. Its not only a dish I enjoyed many times, but I do get some pleasure from watching people react when they try it for the first time. Mrs Ziggy, kids, and yes, even some members of the club, raved about this one.
For me, family style meals are not about going to Carmine’s and eating 2 oversized dishes shared by 6 people. There’s just so much you can order and share, and the quality of large dishes is almost always poor. Instead, go to any place and simply order as many dishes as necessary of the same thing. Blue Ribbon is great for this because some of their signature dishes like the fried rice, and the squid are very shareable. I once sent a group there (I wasnt invited, just consulted) and pretty much wrote the entire order for them based on how many people were in the party. You want variety, especially with picky eaters. And Blue Ribbon chefs know how to cook
The rest of the meal was a big success with the Suck Club. My secret weapon fried chicken, and the salmon with a light teriyaki glaze worked like magic. The only concern was that the salmon would not be cooked enough for the club, but hey, they ate, and raved about it. I especially loved the smoky bean sprouts and rabe that accompanied the fish. While I’m not the biggest fan of the fried chicken, its almost always a smart order, and I’m slowly warming up to the honey sauce that comes with it. The fried rice is a smash hit as usual, and I’ve essentially already written essays and articles about it. Nightly specials included a fine Nobu-esque rock shrimp tempura, and finer spare ribs. There was plenty of sushi as well, shockingly gobbled up by some JSC members who may not have been aware that they were eating raw fish. And to complete the experience, I was reunited with my favorite Japanese light beer, Hitachino Nest. This did not suck.
Someone in Denver awes me a buck.
6 Columbus, 308 W 58th St (8/9)