By Alyssa Borg
I admit it. I’m a sushi elitist.
I didn’t used to be that way. In fact, when I first moved to Manhattan, I’d only ad it a handful of times. And then I became jaded, like most New Yorkers, about the neighborhood delivery places.
Some were good, some were less good. I generally didn’t want to eat slimy looking salmon or rough, ‘why-am-I-making-out-with-a-cat?’ eel.
So, I stuck to shrimp tempura maki, or veggie rolls, maybe the occasional tuna roll. Always without mayo and without sauce. Just some soy and spicy neon green wasabi for me (and yes, I know it’s food coloring and horseradish).
Then one day, after moving out of Manhattan, I met a friend at this tiny, quiet, restaurant in Hartsdale called Azuma.
And it rocked my world.
Even for a huge lunch platter for two, the fish was melt-in-your-mouth goodness. No piece of meat was too large, or too cold. If heaven was a sushi restaurant, this is it.
Flash forward 5 years, and I now live in Nashville, the rocking city that reminds me of Austin, before it outgrew its britches (sorry, Austin, but have you seen Mopac lately?).
The hardest thing to find here has been sushi. And yes, there are places that offer the same mediocre to slightly decent sushi, but generally, the rice has too much vinegar, or the cuts of fish are massive and nearly frozen.
Enter, Two Ten Jack, izakaya and ramen house, located in the heart of East Nashville.
When we walked in on Tuesday for a very informal, sit at the bar, “we want some deliciousness after working a convention all weekend,” date night, one of the employees that we know, holds up a small scrap of register paper.
“Cameron Diaz is in booth 1.”
Now, normally, we wouldn’t care about this. I mean, we’ve lived in NYC. On our first date, we saw a play with Sarah Paulsen and Bobby Cannavale, sat behind Cherry Jones and Tate Donovan, walked behind Adrien Brody in the West Village, and saw Kirsten Dunst and crew get kicked out of Little Branch.
Best date EVER.
But, here in Nashville, it’s not about being seen… It’s about the food. And it is good. Really good.
Most who come here order ramen. But their nigiri and daily fish specials are exceptional!
Our favorites on their regular menu include hamachi (yellowtail) and hotate (scallop) nigiri and their crab butter noodles. They also have some tasty yakitori options including cherry tomato with wasabi oil, tsukune (chicken meatball), and wagyu-stuffed shishito pepper.
Amberjack, red sea bream and needlefish are just a few of the nigiri daily specials we’ve tried here, all like butta’.
And don’t miss their happy hour 4-6pm, with $5 house sake, and 2 for 1 Kirin on draft. They also have a variety of shochu – a distilled liquor usually made from rice, barley, and/or sweet potatoes. We got the chance to taste the current house-infused shochu, Jungle Plum, made with sour plums cured in salt. The flavor was incredible. Smooth, not sweet. Tart and salty, with floral overtones.
If I had to choose between whiskey and this infused shochu- the shochu wins.
So, if you’re looking for some spot-on prawn in this landlocked Music City, Two Ten Jack will make your sea dreams come true.