Greenwich’s Moon opened just as 2020 shut its eyes and woke as a new calendar year. The menu nods to American dishes — Long Island duck, Colorado lamb, beef from Idaho Wagyu pioneers Snake River Farms — but the rationale we’re lured in is sushi. Within just a couple of months of opening, Moon has manufactured waves in the eating neighborhood like its namesake moves the tides. We experienced to bring you a look.
The restaurant is the next little one of the Ambias Group, founded by Kevin Yin (Szechwan Absolute, Queens), and chef Matt Madera, whose credits extend from training with Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex in Lyon, France, to the kitchens of New York culinary primary lights Jean-Georges and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. By the time the city’s pandemic containment actions shuttered restaurant doorways all above the town, sending citizens and employees alike across the border into the relative protection of Connecticut, Madera and Yin experienced previously been setting up a Greenwich opening for around a year.
“We prepared to open in advance of COVID, spent a calendar year ingesting everywhere you go in Greenwich doing market value research,” Madera says. “We saw a hole in the market place for nicer food provider, structure, the entire package.”
Madera placed himself firmly as the restaurateur, not the chef, then tagged in fellow Robuchon veteran chef Nisorin Paulino to operate warm-facet entrée magic in the kitchen area underneath the bar, and spent above a year “obsessing” about the operational details of purchaser practical experience. “Our foods is all very small inventory: particularly refreshing veggies, fish from Japan, all the things wants to be fantastic.”
Madera’s interest to element seems in all places. The dining space is perfumed before each seating with a scent he wishes to be a Moon signature. “I had exciting coming up with modifying scents for the hand towels. It’ll be lemongrass a single time you come in, rosewater another — all of the senses are significant. Points like that take zero work but excellent support is about getting the treatment to do it.”
I’m seated at a glass-partitioned corner of the bar and introduced to executive sushi chef Isamu Yamada. A native of Osaka, Yamada honed both knives and competencies as a sushi chef in Hawaii and Sushi of Gari in New York Town in advance of landing at Moon.
I appreciate sushi, sashimi and America’s extra commonplace norimaki (for the toasted seaweed, nori rolled, maki), but the depth of my awareness is, very well, shallow. Out of deference and regard for the knowledge and skill of anyone at Moon, and in no little component to the enjoyment of just about every dish being a new shock, I had resolved to dine omakase, chef’s alternative.
My possess selections are largely minimal to consume pairings, and the noticeable decision to commence is the property signature Moon cocktail. Cazadores tequila, rosewater, refreshing lime juice, sparkling wine, and kaffir lime get there collectively in a coupe, and disappear herbal, sweet and tart, but not bitter. It is an exceptional aperitif concocted by restaurant GM and beverage director Moses Laboy, particularly paired with the nori-spiced rice chips set down as you commence your food. Salty as acceptable with the seaweed, these crunch, dissolve and develop up a thirst for your following sip.
Omakase dinners are readily available in 12 or 14 courses of a bite or two each and every, interspersed with soups, and no matter what else the chef’s know-how and knowledge with your reactions potential customers him to get ready. Feel of it as a guided experience in dining. The programs on this night are primarily nigiri, in some cases identified as Edo-mae following its roots in Edo, the historic cash which became current-working day Tokyo. It may perhaps be the most deceptively easy, wildly variable carb and protein quick foodstuff in worldwide record — the archetypal image appearing in our minds on hearing the word “sushi.” Sitting down at the sushi bar, I check out chef Yamada roll each and every rice ball (shari) by hand with brief, efficient actions in advance of transferring to his next choice of substances for the topping (neta).
Initially to surface with a flourish from Yamada-san is a two-piece development of frivolously seared akami tuna, put neatly in the heart of a glass dish which offers the effect the program experienced arrived on the back again of a moon jellyfish. The tuna, topped with a dollop of fermented pear jam and a couple rings of scallion, is fragrant as I deliver it close, but incredibly delicate in flavor. I respect the visually pleasing, subtle start to the food to maintain eyes and style buds both of those in engagement during.
Botan ebi is a spotted prawn frequently fished all around Hokkaido, and shipped to Moon from Japan. Its firm, snappy meat provides a sweet, almost creamy flavor which blends completely with the rice. I would make a issue of purchasing this once more on a return excursion.
New Zealand salmon is utilized for the sake, an nearly universal preferred consisting of the fatty salmon tummy. Again, the operative phrase right here is “creamy,” so loaded and flavorful it feels like a diet plan cheat all on its very own. I am remaining to contemplate how a lot of of these I could try to eat in a one sitting, and how big a seasonal blow it would supply to global fish supply chains. The soup course re-emerges right before I get also lost in believed.
Time in the steamer experienced reworked the chawanmushi broth into a sleek landscape of custard, studded with a one big shiitake, and dressed with environmentally friendly onion. The mushroom provides a hit of meaty umami to the dish, with the richness slash by the sharper onion flavor, and chunks of white fish showing up from under like sunken treasure. The soup program, excellent on its very own, is also served to crack up the speedy movement of nigiri — a bookmark which gives time to think about the practical experience you have when enabling a chef to exert their experience in your provider.
130 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich
Obtaining experienced these moments to reset, chef Yamada, like a wonderful pitcher, adjustments the stage. Unagi — freshwater eel (also sourced in Japan) — is belted with a strip of nori, then given a final sear with the torch. Eel can often be a bit robust, and I enjoy the fastball soon after the lull, but the primary expertise right here is the stunning brown crust of the evenly fried eel. The mix with the rice, correctly seasoned and sent at the appropriate temperature for taste stability despite the temperature of each study course, is magic. This is simply the finest unagi I have had wherever.
A marinated tuna zuke — all protein, soy, mirin and salt — is long gone in a flash and wistfully remembered. Its rapid replacement is horse mackerel (aji), served with ginger and scallions. Flippantly torched, the mackerel is the most pungent dish by considerably, the flavor lower by the ginger as cleanly as the fish was sliced by the chef’s professional knifework.
A welcoming connection with the sea usually usually means a durable coastal protection, and out of respect for the more substantial waves of flavor rolling in with the late classes, I get a more robust drink. The Smoke Signal is based mostly on Sagamore clove-infused rye whiskey, poured above a one large dice in a glass smoked with smoldering cinnamon and star anise. Prosperous, sweet and herbal, it can make a fitting rampart from which to meet up with the coming orders. Yamada carries on to climb the ladder, giving hamachi tuna brushed with a soy/yuzu marinade. The sweet acidity and soy are a one particular-two feint, whilst the yellowtail catches you entire in the mouth.
Combinations follow: Spanish otoro (fatty bluefin tuna), topped with a shining black cloud of Siberian caviar for a blend of both flavor and texture, the silky tuna offset with the pop of bursting caviar as Mediterranean and Black Sea fish harmonize in salty, benthic depths. Madai (sea bream) is topped with purple caviar and ponzu, and reveals a strike of spicy heat concealed beneath the chewier fish and citrus. Sea scallop sent from Hokkaido Bay is offered a large eye opener of chili/yuzu paste. I am delighted by this transform of functions, but conveniently scorched tongues may well need a bit of warning right before purchasing the hotate.
“It’s a really southern planning,” chef Yamada clarifies. “From Kyushu. It’s not a thing that was prevalent when I was younger, but it’s all above Japan and the globe now.”
From relatively nearer to household is the Santa Barbara sea urchin. Uni, in each taste and texture, can just take some obtaining applied to for some, but the special ocean surroundings of the Channel Islands presents the California range a moderate, buttery flavor which melts into the rice with the contact of soy.
The chef offers a temaki cone upcoming, with guidelines to try to eat it immediately even though the nori wrap is however crunchy. The a bit funky fish, crisp veggies, and outlier preparing are a welcome place of further wide range.
The final two dishes of the night time are served jointly, and paired an fantastic mushroom soup with the conventional tamago omelet. The omelet is deceptively delicate and can be hard to get proper. Stirred with dashi and other things based on every chef, the result wants to be fluffy as a soufflé. Completed effectively, it makes a satisfying dessert. Moon, nearly predictably, nails it. The nutty, rounded taste of the warm Nameko soup is comforting as a weighted blanket at night’s stop.
Eyes lolling with blissed-out contentment trace above the sheen of a cube in an empty glass in soft lights when chillwave plays overhead, and the evening’s landing gear thunks into put. This is the practical experience, the emotion, a cafe seeks to supply, and those out for a night time of good dining hope to accomplish. Chef Yamada grins with a slight bow, and I wave goodbye.
This report originally appeared in Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe listed here, or uncover the present-day concern on sale below. Sign up for the e-newsletter to get the latest and biggest information from Connecticut Magazine delivered ideal to your inbox. On Fb and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.