It’s hard to have a go-to restaurant here in New York when there are so many options that you want to try something different every time. But when I lived in the East Village, I was loyal to Akina, a sushi spot that was fresh, knew my order as soon as I walked in and even offered a brown rice substitution for free.
I always felt like I was cheating on them if I got sushi elsewhere, but now that Akina isn’t so close, I had to find a sushi fix for the times I didn’t want to walk to 14th St.
I didn’t have to look far. Mottsu is a Japanese restaurant across the street (and down a few storefronts) from my apartment. They has some outdoor dining space that always taken up, and its always-bumpin’ vibe encouraged me to try it.
Unlike most sushi restaurants, Mottsu has a fairly extensive list of vegetarian sushi options.
What’s in it for you Vegetable gyoza; fried tofu with tempura sauce; spinach with sesame sauce; eggplant miso. And for sushi: cucumber; avocado; cooked squash asparagus tempura; grilled portobella mushroom; Japanese pickle; vegetable Futomaki
What’s it for them Besides seafood sushi, beef or chicken udon noodle soup; chicken teryaki; beef nebayaki
To start things off, they gave us towels to wipe our hands. They were neither hot nor antibacterial of any kind, but I guess they were mildly refreshing.
For the appetizer, we wanted to do something different, so we opted not for the go-to vegetable dumplings, but for the tofu and avocado salad.
It may look pretty, but it was blander than bland. Though to be fair, what do you expect when you combine unseasoned, slippery tofu with avocado. The onion dressing was nice, but I would’ve liked to have seen the tofu pan-fried or something.
As for the entree, when I saw that one of their roles was called a Nolita roll, my cheesy self couldn’t resist. It had the most interesting filling combination of roasted pepper, olives and garlic. I also went for the spicy spinach because spicy mayo just makes everything better.
The appetizer wasn’t the right way to start off the meal, but the unusual veg options won me over. And how can you not like gobs of spicy mayo?
285 Mott St. (between Houston and Prince)
B, D, F, M to Broadway-Lafayette
6 to Bleecker