The best places, I believe, are the more unassuming places. The little treasures that are off the beaten path, hidden away where you least expect. The best food is the food that is what it is – unpretentious, fresh and bursting with flavor. And that’s the best way to describe this new unassuming little Japanese restaurant in Stamford, Soosh.
It was a social media friend of mine, Pierre-Christian D. Frye, owner of PCDF Architecture in Greenwich, who first told me about Soosh. Perhaps he was a bit biased as he was hired as the restaurant’s architect. He explained how he turned what was basically an old storage space into a stylish Japanese eatery.
“For the new Soosh restaurant I worked closely with the owner to bring the vision to life of a truly modern, timeless dining experience. I accentuated the compact space with unique lighting and a rich mix of textures, tiles, wood and metal. The front and center sushi bar allows everyone to see the food prep in action making this the focus. Although there are a lot of elements at play in Soosh the result feels clean, urban and hip.” The interior was designed by Miami-based Alexandra Dray. And you’d hardly know that this little gem was located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel/Holiday Inn Express.
Almost as soon as you walk in through the front doors you’re likely to be greeted by owner Ari Lieberman or his wife, Rica. Both are warm, charming and charismatic and will likely make you feel more like you’re in their home than in a restaurant. Newly relocated from Hollywood, Florida, Ari knew he wanted to open a restaurant in the area. His love for sushi paved the way. Soosh seems to fill a void in the area, he explained to me. He is passionate about this little restaurant in the bustling city. “We want our diners to enjoy themselves and their food. We want them to feel relaxed and to enjoy the whole dining experience and most importantly we want to accommodate all of our guests with a wide range of tastes.”
The menu, creative and varied, is not like most others. It’s unique in that it caters to many tastes and budgets. There’s a children’s menu as well as several cooked entrees for those who don’t have a palate for the raw fish. There are $3 rolls available for the budget conscious and a more expensive Omakase which consists of the chef’s choice of innovative selections. It should also be noted that this sushi restaurant also happens to be Kosher. What does that mean? To most it doesn’t mean much save for the absence of seafood from the ingredients, providing a safe haven for those with shellfish allergies. For those of you who love your shrimp, oysters and lobster, will you miss the seafood? Not at all.
Soosh’s chef, Nima, hails from Japan and his training is strictly Japanese. His energy, enthusiasm and passion are infectious as he tells stories of the way sushi is prepared, presented and eaten in Japan. Sit at the bar and watch him master his craft. Precise and creative, Lieberman has given him carte blanche.
As I sat down to chat with Rica and Ari beautiful plates of colorful and delicious food were presented to me. I started off with the Tuna Pizza. Yes, there are other restaurants that have a tuna pizza, but none like this. The cilantro, cherry tomato, onion spicy mayo and jalapeno peppers played beautifully together with the thinly sliced tuna atop a small pita-like bread. Next to arrive was the Soosh Spring Roll. This spring roll takes on a life and personality of its own and makes the rest seem lackluster by comparison. Crispy thin pastry dough is stuffed with a highly seasoned Chilean sea bass, onion, mushrooms, and scallions.
The Vegetable Yaki Udon noodle dish was highly flavorful and chock full of a variety of vegetables. Vegetarians can also order the Green Caterpillar Roll, where sweet potato tempura and avocado come together in a series of rolls topped with eel sauce. The Chilean Sea Bass. Was cooked to perfection, tender, flaky and incredibly flavorful. It comes served with select sautéed vegetables and a choice of white or brown rice. The last dish, and the most impressive by far, to come to the table was the Sashimi Deluxe with its beautiful and varied selection of sushi and sashimi. In front of me, beautifully displayed, were 17 pieces of sashimi that included, tuna, salmon, yellow tail, white tuna, fluke and striped bass. The fish was so fresh one needn’t use any of the sauces or condiments offered. The presentation was spectacular and I was told that it’s never the same twice.
The restaurant, like its catchy name, is fun, young and truly memorable.
Soosh is located at 2701 Summer Street in Stamford in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Park in the hotel’s garage and be sure to bring your ticket so that the restaurant can validate it for you.