There is no part of the common omakase playbook that appeals to common sensibilities more than the Temaki, or “hand roll”. For some, what immediately comes to mind is the uncut nori, wrapped around negitoro in a tubed shape at a staple like Kosaka. For others, thoughts turn to the wide bodied cone, stuffed with rice and topped with a variety of neta at a neighborhood sushi joint like Marumi. The appeal of temaki (particularly in Western food culture) is in its construct; while small, balanced nigiri are delicate and patient jewels, hand rolls are the equivalent of a loud, brash party-crasher, filled and designed to please those who want more food, sooner. That isn’t to say there isn’t a technique behind the idea; the best temaki use the parts of fish not suitable for nigiri, but are still delicious enough to eat long-form. And again, we’re all human – who doesn’t want more of anything sooner? Unfortunately, enterprising souls have figured that out too. Which is how we got the latest iteration of the temaki craze: KazuNori.
KazuNori is the second Temaki-focused spot I’ve reviewed – the chocolate and eel love child known as Domo Domo was the first – but it still claims to be the “Original Handroll Bar”. The gravitas makes more sense when you consider that KazuNori comes from the same hitmakers behind the wildly, incredibly, impossibly successful Sugarfish, which just opened in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood to massive lines. KazuNori is located nearby in NoMad, which is that area of Manhattan that most of you have likely never heard of. To be fair, I found the overall concept smart. Customers walk in, seat themselves, and order directly from the chefs behind the counter. The no frills attitude reminded me somewhat of the standing sushi bars in Japan, but unfortunately the similarities ended there.