I admit that just seeing the name Zutto, I would I thought it was an Italian joint. But, when I looked for a place in Tribeca on OpenTable, I saw that it was Japanese. Then, going to their website to check out their menu, it said Japanese American Pub. So, I was not sure what to expect. We went on a Friday night. At first, it was not that crowded; the communal table was occupied by a large party; the sushi bar half full (or empty, which way you like), with curious people watching the chef prepare the sushi, sashimi or ramen (yes, they have that too!).
What I like is their small plate menu that is a reference to a Japanese Izakaya, and I have to say that we did not know what to order with so many yummy choices. Looking closely, I realized that the American part was probably because of some dishes that are really Americana, that they serve with a twist, such as the Buffalo cauliflower wings or the soy garlic chicken wings. We decided to try some buns as they have a large selection and picked the pork belly one, served with a miso-mayo.
The bun itself was deliciously soft, but the meat a bit dry and I wish there was more mayo.
Then, we tried the pan fried pork gyoza:
They were fantastic: the shell was thin and the filling incredibly tasty, with a delightful little kick.
Then was the ramen. They have a nice choice from pork, chicken, duck or seafood; I did not see any vegetarian ramen though. On one of the wall, they have a huge sign that explains how they are making the broth: up to 120 lb of pork bones are boiled in a 24'' pot at the highest heat for about 24 hours.
We decided to share the tonkotsu ramen, made with chase (pork jowls), kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), menma (Japanese condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), pickled ginger, sesame, and scallions. We also added a slow poached egg that was perfectly cooked.
This was a delicious dish: the broth was tasty, the noodles slightly al dente and the only disappointment for me was that I expected more pork in it. If I had known, I would have added pork belly. But, even with that, I really liked it.
What I truly appreciated was the fact that they brought us bowls, so we could share the ramen and I observed few tables doing the same thing.
Last was dessert. Their dessert menu is so mouth watering that we did not know what to order. We finally decided to go for the brioche bread pudding:
It was an interesting take on this classic dish: first of all, the presentation was beautiful and elegant, with the brioche bread pudding topped by a caramelized banana and a homemade vanilla ice cream. Second, the taste: the first bite was divine! The bread pudding alone was delicious and had a nice texture. Then, the caramelized banana and ice cream paired perfectly, making it a dessert that was addictive. I should mention that it was not too sweet.
We had a great dinner at Zutto's: the food was fantastic! Would I go back? For sure! I already made my choice on my next meal there: kobe beef bun, soy and garlic chicken wings, parma-karma ramen (with parmigiano reggiano) and chocolate pot de creme.
Enjoy (I sure did)!
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