Cuisine: Asian , Italian
Menu Details: Salmon Sake, Eel Cucumber, Grilled Shiitake Tofu Salad, Tuna Tataki, Hamachi w. Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Given the paucity of sophisticated dining options in the theater district, one has to be grateful for Natsumi, the relatively new Japanese fusion eatery that can be found in the Ambassador Court hotel. Natsumi actually embraces two different concepts: an attractive bar and lounge (where sushi and other cold food is served) and a more traditional dining room, where Koushi -- Japanese room dividers – help create distinct seating areas.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
The menu at Natusi is extremely extensive – almost dizzyingly so – and includes two full pages of sushi and sashimi, complete with a large selection of special combination rolls. Many a platter whizzed by as we ate, but we opted to try some of chef Haru Konagaya’s more complex creations instead. I wish I could muster some enthusiasm for his signature dish, the pizza nuovo, inspired by a recent trip to Italy. But, to be frank, I found this flatbread topped with a too-creamy cheese and chunks of hot salmon to be an unappetizing appetizer. Perhaps I would’ve been happier with one of the house’s “new style carpaccio” like hamachi in a balsamic vinaigrette or tuna in pepperoncini vinaigrette.
Zeroing in on more traditional fare prompted a more pleasing response, with appetizer portions of beef and chicken yakitori – the meat nicely grilled on skewers in a not-too-sweet sauce – and greaslessly battered shrimp and vegetable tempura – proving to be perfectly fine starters, and a nice compliment to the excellent white wines by the glass we sampled.
The kitchen offers close to a dozen tempting-sound hot entrees, which made for some unusually lengthy decision-making. My dining companion, Patricia, was tempted by the sound of a pork filet mignon in mustard sauce and the sight of pan seared beef in a shiitake sauce at a neighboring table. But our waitress steered her to “Land & Sea,” a generous portion of chicken breast and grilled shrimp in a surprisingly spicy garlic sauce.
My ginger-crusted duck breast didn’t seem to have much ginger, and it was served more well done than I like (though, in all fairness, I hadn’t asked about its temperature). Still, it was decidedly toothsome, and gained a touch of added flavor by an orange-port demiglaze.
Having perhaps over-sampled, we opted to skip dessert and settle for some digestive green tea instead. We were tempted to order an after-dinner drink in the bar/lounge, but it started to rain and we headed for home. There’s always next time. –
Neighborhood: West 40s