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Tobiko, Valley Stream, New York


Ranking: N/ARead Full Review


  • Food8-9(Superb)
  • Pricing8-9(50% OFF)
  • Atmosphere8(Outstanding)
  • Service9(Outstanding)
  • Selection8
  • Value8-9

The Review

Our most recent sushi adventure led us to one of Nassau County's newest sushi restaurants, Tobiko in Valley Stream. Located in a busy strip mall along Merrick Road (think plenty of parking), this Sushi & Asian Fusion gem is spacious and yet warm and comfortable. A few steps into this superbly redesigned restaurant space you'll immediately notice all of the many details,both large and small, that tell you that Tobiko is in the good hands of experienced restaurateurs. These guys know a thing or two about sushi, Asian fusion cuisine, and how to create the ideal atmosphere to enjoy it all.

The entire restaurant, all 3000 square feet of it, is capped with a magnificent high ceiling and is smartly divided into several surprisingly intimate sections, all with perfect sight lines to other areas of the restaurant - particularly the sushi bar. It bears noting that the sushi bar at Tobiko is indeed a true sushi bar and not simply a prep station, which is too often the case at many Japanese restaurants. With ample seating for more than 14, the large, L-shaped bar is ideal for those sushi lovers who prefer the one-of-a-kind dining experience that can only be truly enjoyed while seated at a genuine sushi bar staffed with attentive and entertaining chefs.

The entrance and lobby of Tobiko opens into a large bar and waiting area with seating for private dining on one side and the main dining room on the other. Both are separated with decorative room dividers that provide privacy for each space without compromising the overall airiness of the room. The main dining area is comprised of 2-top, 4-top and 6-top tables that are all well-spaced giving larger groups plenty of elbow room and smaller gatherings and equally comfortable experience.

  • The Appetizers
    Salmon Toro Tartar Diced with mango, topped with black caviar, and complimented with a honey-wasabi sauce, this was one of my favorite appetizers. The entire dish melded perfectly as the diced toro provided a silky texture to the finely chopped chunks of fresh salmon. The honey-wasabi sauce was well-balanced though the dish was equally enjoyable with just a dash of soy sauce.

  • Yellowtail Ceviche This dish was composed of fresh yellowtail sashimi topped with thinly shaved jalapeno slices, tobiko and garlic with an orange ceviche sauce covering the bottom of the plate. This appetizer was my least favorite, not because of the yellowtail, which I would eat for breakfast, but because the orange sauce was a little sweet, one dimensional and lacking salt.

  • Tuna Dumpling Like nothing I've ever eaten before at a Japanese restaurant. Perfectly sliced layers of maguro make up the outer skin of this sushi dumpling with the filling comprised of lightly dressed king crab and the summit (it sure looks like Mt. Maguro) is topped with fresh avocado and bonito flakes. The accompanying sauce is an olive oil and cilantro combo that works well with the avocado and tuna. While the tuna was delectable, the filling was a bit much and tended to overwhelm the sublime taste and texture of the maguro. We finished most of the tuna but left a good bit of the rest, which while tasty, lost its appeal after a few bites.

  • Hamachi Kama I've saved the best appetizer for last. I love Hamachi Kama and Tobiko makes one of the best I've had in a long time. If you've never experienced the luscious taste of yellowtail collar I recommend that you put the Hamachi Kama at Tobiko on your "dining bucket list" immediately. The meat just behind the head and down to what would be the fish's neck is some of the best tasting meat on any large fish - and that goes double for Hamachi. At Tobiko the exterior of the collar is grilled to crispy perfection while the interior remains moist and tender with the natural buttery texture of this part of the yellowtail the highlightof the dish. Superb!!!

  • On To The Sushi Rolls
    I will admit from the outset that the myriad of sushi rolls that you'll find in many Japanese restaurants, with their limitless layers and curious components are not my favorites. I prefer simple maki rolls that allow the unmistakable taste and textures of each type of fish and selected garnish to shine through each crunchy bite. But, I completely understand why so many people groove on the visuals, complex flavors and skill required to create and execute the signature rolls found on most sushi menus. In fact, I like to believe that my slight aversion to these arguably incredible taste sensations makes me a good person to judge those rolls that rise to sushi stardom versus those that go one topping too far. For the most part, the signature rolls at Tobiko were right on the money.

    Painted Lady Roll This roll speaks to the ability of Tobiko's chefs to skillfully meld a number of different ingredients into a distinctly flavorful bite. Chunks of fresh lobster, mango, and asparagus are rolled in pink soy paper and topped with spicy tuna and avocado and served with a spicy mango sauce. I prefer nori wrappers in sushi rolls but the soy-based wrapper used for the Painted Lady is a good choice. For someone that doesn't always gravitate to the custom combo-rolls, this is one that I will be ordering again.

  • Tuna Amazing If you like tuna you can't get more tuna than Tuna Amazing. This roll covers almost all the bases with white tuna tempura, spicy tuna and avocado topped with peppered tuna, mango sauce and eel sauce. While well-crafted and visually appealing the underlying flavor of each tuna preparation gets a little lost in this one.

  • Out of Control Don't let the name fool you, everything about this roll is right on the money and thoroughly in control of your palate. The Out of Control Roll has fresh, clean flavors that any traditional sushi lover will truly enjoy. Tuna, yellowtail and salmon are combined with avocado and asparagus and lightly covered with eel sauce and spicy miso sauce. This was yet another custom - combo that is starting to win me over.

  • Valley Stream Roll Made especially for this location the Valley Stream roll combines king crab, tobiko, scallions and avocado and tops it all with a mango hot sauce. There are always a few rolls on every sushi menu that are best-suited for more timid tastes and other than the hot mango sauce, this is one of them. The roll was fresh, tasty, and well-made but otherwise forgettable.

  • Osaka Box You might want to consider this roll for dessert because there is no better way to end your sushi experience than with a signature roll that entices the savory, umami, and sweet taste buds all at the same time. The Osaka Box can almost be described as a savory Japanese layer cookie with slices of tuna, white tuna and chopped spicy tuna topped with crunchy panko and coconut. It is served with a slightly sweet strawberry sauce that coats the bottom of the plate and remarkably, (it was indeed remarkable to me) pulls together all the flavors and textures in each enjoyable bite.

  • The Bonus Round Fresh Miyagi Oysters & Uni Our host at Tobiko suggested that we try some fresh oysters, which luckily for us had just come in that morning. It took very little arm twisting to get us to sample the marvelously simple and mouthwatering treatment of their Miyagi oysters. The oysters arrived at our table with plump rounded tops - evidence of the skilled hand that opened them - with each sharing its shell with a fresh piece of uni. Jalapeno slices and fish roe topped off our mounds of joy! They were served with a ponzu-wasabi sauce (think Asian mignonette), which added an unbeatable splash of flavor to these briny morsels. The pairing of fresh oysters and uni showed great culinary expertise from an experienced chef who seems to appreciate the underappreciated art of refined but restrained adornment of first quality ingredients.

  • Hot Stuff If too many Asian-Fusion menus seem to be filled with tired, un-fused dishes you won't find that to be the case at Tobiko. While the Chef's Special Dishes at Tobiko do include several recognizable entrees, (a good thing especially if some of your dining partners aren't gastronomically adventurous), for the most part their featured entrees offer a appetzing variety of Asian-inspired meat and fish courses that will satisfy the most daring diners among you.

    Seafood Rainbow Casserole
    Casseroles are some of my favorite dishes to order when I eat at an authentic Chinese restaurant, so I was anxious to give this Tobiko casserole a try. This dish comes in a hot pot that is filled with prawns, a tender, juicy lobster tail, seared sea scallops, fresh vegetables (Japanese eggplant, string beans, sweet potato) all infused and covered in a lemongrass, Thai curry sauce . This was truly a satisfying Asian supper pot with fresh, well-cooked shell fish in a piquant sauce that added just the right background flavors to the rest of the ingredients.

  • Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass Seared crispy skin, lightly glazed, succulent filets, roasted with fresh peppers, asparagus and baby potatoes. Simple and delightful! This was one of our favorite dishes at Tobiko owing to the freshness of the ingredients and the adept hand of a chef who obviously knows how to prepare and showcase the unique texture and richness of this delicious fish.

  • Crispy Red Snapper This was yet another dish that truly highlights the skill of the chefs working behind the scene at Tobiko. Fresh red snapper filets are fried and coated with a pungent sauce of caramelized soy syrup, rice wine vinegar and penang curry and served on a bed of baby bok choy. The snapper was moist and tender while the crunchy, spicy coating was one that I have been trying to replicate in my own kitchen ever since first eating this dish at Tobiko. Try it but be prepared to be addicted.

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