The New Yorker - USA (2022-01-31)

(Antfer) #1





137 Avenue A

At most sushi restaurants, when you’re
enjoying an omakase meal for which
you’re soon going to pay a large sum of
money, you don’t expect to hear phrases
like “striped bass from a hydroponic
farm in Bushwick,” “sake brewed in In-
dustry City,” or “soy sauce made by a guy
named Bob in Mystic, Connecticut.”
And yet that’s exactly what you may
hear at Jeff Miller’s East Village spot,
Rosella—the only sustainable sushi
restaurant in New York City.
Miller, who grew up in California, is
a pioneer: from 2017 to 2019, he was the
chef at the first sustainable sushi restau-
rant in New York City, Mayanoki, now
closed. At Rosella, he continues his prac-
tice of purposefully avoiding overfished
species, a factor that constantly shifts in
relation to fishery management, follow-
ing the recommendations of the Mon-
terey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and
the NOAA FishWatch programs. He also
strives to source his ingredients as locally
as possible, a philosophy that extends to
the interior of his restaurant. The cozy
space—with a six-seat omakase counter

in the back and several bar seats in the
front—features handsome wood coun-
tertops carved from a London plane tree
that fell in Red Hook, Brooklyn, during
Hurricane Sandy, in 2012.
Whether you invest in the fifteen-
course omakase or just stop in for a chirashi
bowl—a medley, atop rice, of exquisite
cuts of sashimi, balancing stronger and
lighter flavors, leaner and fattier fish, al-
most all of it procured in the U.S.—the
welcome from Rosella’s tight team of chefs
and servers is warm. On a recent night, a
succulent strip of Florida Spanish mack-
erel, swiped with yuzu kosho, was followed
by a silky piece of applewood-smoked
steelhead trout, from Hudson, New York.
Artistic license abounds. The menu’s Rolls
That Defy Categorization section listed
just one, an avocado roll mounded with
Maine lobster, extracted whole from the
claw and lightly dressed with citrus mayo,
reminiscent of ... a lobster roll. A slur-
pable, spicy Singapore-style laksa—poised
to give ramen some healthy competi-
tion—combined chicken broth, home-
made shrimp paste, coconut milk, and
lime for a tangy, velvety soup swimming
with thin rice noodles, roasted maitake
mushrooms, and seared Gulf shrimp.
As in the trout, smoke found its way to
a sea-urchin roll, and to the Crudo Verde,
featuring walnut-wood-smoked Baja
California amberjack wrapped around
pickled tomatillos and nestled with man-
darin supremes. Miller told me, “I love the
flavor of smoke, so I have to limit myself
with two or three things a night.”
In his quest for sustainability, Miller

has discovered a constellation of nearby
artisans making traditional Japanese in-
gredients. He said that he mixes his sushi
rice with “rice vinegar made in Pennsylva-
nia by a little husband-and-wife operation
called Keepwell Vinegar. They also make
the misos that we use.” That Mystic soy
sauce is from Moromi, a company started
by Bob Florence, who left the corporate
world to learn fermenting techniques
at the esteemed Chiba Shoyu, in Japan.
And Rosella highlights Brooklyn-made
sake: Kato Sake Works, in Bushwick, was
started by a Japanese expat who produces
a lovely, bright, smooth junmai. “Most of
these things didn’t even exist five years
ago,” Miller said.
Rosella aptly bills itself as an Amer-
ican sushi restaurant, but its name has
roots in Australia—specifically, outside
of Canberra, where Miller lived as a
study-abroad student in high school, in
the home of an eccentric man named
Ron, who taught him how to cook intri-
cate dishes. The area was rife with wild
rosella parrots; Miller associates them
with his burgeoning food awakening.
For dessert, you can have that Ameri-
can favorite, carrot cake, here on the verge
of savory, fortified with sunchoke miso
and garnished with candied orange peel
and marigold flowers. The cake is scooped
into a bowl, its sides smeared with a
generous whoosh of scrumptious white
frosting. The star ingredient? The cult
favorite Ben’s cream cheese, from Rock-
land County, just up the road. (Omakase
$150; sushi $7-$12; other dishes $6-$35.)
—Shauna Lyon
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