Lynn's good friend Honi and her sister Carol had raved about Nagahama a small, elegant sushi place in Long Beach for many years and had wanted us to try the place. Nagahama is well into Nassau County, the western part of Long Island and though we are familiar with some areas of Nassau (Oyster Bay for instance) Long Beach was not one of those areas.
Recently, we met Honi and her sister for sushi. We arrived around 6 at which point the place was mostly empty. Honi and Carol arrived soon afterwards and the quietness of the place helped us to relax a bit from the start. Honi and Carol said that the menu was great but what they liked to do was let the chef, Hidei, fix them what he wanted.
Lynn and I like to think that we are always up for anything and most of the time we like to think we are. This concept threw us for a moment as we probably put pressure on ourselves to order something especially exotic. However, after some appetizers including delicious and fragrant oysters and mussels we were ready to go.
I simply told him I like raw tuna and Lynn had some spicy, crispy crab rolls with tiny, ruby caviar on top which satisfied both culinarily and aesthetically. I had toro tuna tartare which was whipped and frothy like a dessert. I had a couple of slices of toro tuna later as a digestive.
In between, I had a great, small bottle of saki poured into a small glass adorned with a cucumber to infuse the drink. By the time we left the place was full with a casual, but seemingly sophisticated crowd with good manners (nobody was on their cell phone the whole time we were there-a minor miracle).
But the night belonged to Hidei; his wizened wry offhand prescence was mesmerizing. We have seen casual chefs and masterful chefs but rarely a casual, and masterful chef. He made it all look easy and even though he didn't read our minds his instincts were perfection-
169 E. Park Avenue
Long Beach NY