Sushi and the City
Jade opens Downtownand its Asian cuisine tastes and looks as great as its build-out.
Chalk up another remarkable rehabbed restaurant space Downtown, bringing the total to…well, we’ve lost count, there are so many. The impressive diversity of styles—Art Deco to modern to unclassifiably eclectic—is a real tribute to developers’ imaginations. Jade, which opened in July, is a prime example. Two small koi-filled fountains frame the front door, which leads to an elegant interior where wooden tables line the light-green walls and a four-sided bar dominates the center of the room. (That’s a beer-and-cocktail bar, not a sushi bar; the sushi chef has a counter at the rear.) Take a few steps forward and experience the restaurant’s ceiling soar open thanks to a mezzanine that runs around the entire space. Its elaborate wrought-iron fence is a distinguishing counterpoint to the lightness and simplicity of the tables and walls.
On a Roll
For Jade’s concept, general manager Joseph Nguyen eased into the ground-floor restaurant first, working gradually toward the concept of a 3am sushi/Asian eatery combined with a music lounge on the upper level. Initially the Asian food menu stuck to crowd-pleasing entrees like salt-and-pepper shrimp and Mongolian stir-fry plus standard appetizers, soups and noodle dishes. But the sushi menu hit the ground running. It featured a satisfying selection of nigiri (happily, there were many sustainable options, and not a bluefin tuna in sight); plus a long list of maki that range from supermarket standards to seven-ingredient monster rolls. Our particular menu favorite was the omakase section, where the diner trusts the chef to come up with something delectable. In our case, this turned out to be a raw-salmon topped maki veggie roll with sprinkles of masago (smelt roe), sesame and crunchy bits of fried tempura batter. It’s possible to order one roll under the omakase section for around $10, a selection of assorted sashimi for $15, or an entire platter that feeds five for a very reasonable price of $100.
Sake and Suds
There’s a full bar and a short but well-chosen wine list; both the A to Z pinot gris and the Selbach Riesling were good accompaniments for the sushi. You’ll see about as many customers ordering Schlafly as sake, and the ballgames on the flat-screens above the bar, combined with the DJs’ late-night music, give Jade the feel of an East-West hybrid. Like baseball in Japan, it’s a novelty that’s bound to catch on.
The intimate bar scene at Jade.
Photo credit: Liz Reiff Sloan