Somewhere in the middle of my visits to The Den, Ichimura and Tsubame (yes, TriBeCa sushi is on a roll) or having to watch the nuclear reactor fire that was Morimoto’s Sushi Master, I forgot to write about my late May trip to Torigo on Long Island.
And what a pity. Not because it needs the publicity. In fact, some of the legends that suggested it wanted it kept like Danny Devito in LA Confidential – very hush hush.
But we can’t. We mustn’t. Good Long Island sushi is few and far between, and the picture gets worse the more east you drive.
I use the word “drive” loosely. Because driving east on Long Island during the summer is actually “slowly inching forward while wondering why you didn’t take a helicopter before remembering they’re expensive and also a death trap”.
Torigo has an interesting history
It actually opened in 2005, but the current regime has been in place since 2016. The Itamae is Tony San, who previously worked at Torigo before taking the reins 7 years ago.
He’s behind the counter most days along with a team of people that deal with busy lunch and dinner rushes, particularly during the summer.
This is a “no duh” moment, but Tony’s focus on seasonal seafood is the key to Torigo.
This is a sushiya that features a significant volume of daily specials on a neon sign that would look great in my office if I was open to Grand Larceny.
But select neta (toppings for nigiri) are written on the cutest little chalkboard. Seriously, check this thing out.
So naturally I ordered the entire list.
But if you go for lunch, do me a favour
Order the three makizushi combo for $16. Customers get to pick from the list below (star only).
Yes, there are the nouveau rolls for the rookies. But you’re not going to order those.
You’re going to skew traditional, just like I did.
Now, Ume usually appears in Umeshiso, a delicious staple of makizushi. But regardless of what it’s paired with, Umeboshi (salted pickled “plum”) is an acquired taste. I’ve written about it extensively before.
But just like Batty the Beanie Baby which took little me 4 months in 1996 to find, once you acquire it, stress melts away.
By the way, Torigo has an Omakase as well. Given the sushiya’s focus on seasonality and the constantly changing a la carte menu, I’m going to assume it’s fantastic. If you’ve had it, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, fair warning: the inside of Torigo isn’t much to look at.
You’re probably looking at the picture below and thinking it looks like every neighborhood sushiya in the history of the United States of America.
No dispute there.
But if the movie The Prestige taught us anything, it’s that wonderful things should be hiding in plain sight. And also don’t let a stranger tie the knots on your wife’s wrists during a magic show.
And for what it’s worth, there are also some true characters
Shout-out the guy holding court at the sushi counter pounding chardonnays at 1:20pm on a Thursday. I was going to judge, but then remembered which one of us was hovering around the bar at the United Club at 5am last Thursday (it was me).