What to Expect at Hoboken’s Newest Omakase

by Peter Candia
the space at Sushi By Bou

Sushi By Bou has wowed sushi lovers for several years now with its luxurious and inventive omakase-style dining experience. The hip restaurant has locations in New York, Florida, Chicago and New Jersey and is lauded for its surprisingly affordable 12-course sushi tasting. 

New Jerseyans have enjoyed this profound sushi-eating experience for quite some time now, with the first New Jersey location opening several years back inside of Ani Ramen Jersey City. But now, their newest location is set to open in Hoboken and lives inside the W—a luxury hotel that sits on the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan’s skyline. Hoboken and Jersey City have long been a hotbed for the NJ restaurant scene and now with two Sushi By Bou locations, the Garden State is proving to be a restaurant titan of its own. 

But, what is Omakase?

Omakase is a Japanese word that directly translates to “I’ll leave it up to you.” When you dine in this style, you are agreeing to a coursed-out menu that is left entirely in the hands of the sushi chef. Sushi By Bou is no different. When you arrive, the lively space is adorned with art, graffiti and Japanese decorations. At the room’s center is the sushi counter—this is where the magic happens.  

The space features a small bar that offers inventive cocktails such as the Yuzu Honey Bee, a yuzu-spiked play on the classic cocktail: The Bee’s Knees. For those looking for a drink that exemplifies the intricacies of Japanese bartending, look no further than the classic highball—a perfectly balanced long-format drink composed of Suntory Toki Whisky, soda water and an expressed grapefruit peel. The simple veil of the cocktail is just a disguise for one of the most complex and balanced drinks one could enjoy. 

The drinks are an experience of their own, but we came to eat sushi.

One can expect 12 pieces of sushi to come their way when sitting at the counter. First up, a piece of hamachi nigiri. Perfectly seasoned and warm sushi rice is topped with freshly sliced yellowtail. The slightly sweet fish melts in your mouth and the tang of the sushi rice perfectly compliments the delicate flavors. What makes Sushi By Bou so special is how each piece of fish is seasoned specifically to complement its flavor. Some get a brush of soy, others a sprinkle of salt. As a diner, you don’t have to worry about dunking the fish in soy sauce yourself—the work is done for you. 

Next is lean tuna, followed by spotted prawn. The lean tuna is vibrantly red and fresh in flavor. Like the hamachi before it, the rice works in tandem with the fish to create a single, irresistible bite. 

The spotted prawn is no different. Blanched prawns are laid atop a nugget of sushi rice. The prawn’s bouncy texture creates a contrast with the other fish featured on the menu. The prawn is naturally sweet—playing the perfect role as the third course. 

As soon as the prawn was gone, the chef began to prepare the next piece—ikura, or salmon roe. Sushi rice is wrapped in seaweed and then stuffed at the top with marinated salmon roe. The single bite is mesmerizing. Ikura is naturally salty and rich, while roasted flavors of the seaweed sing harmonies. Like many of the pieces on this menu, the rice ties everything together. Once again, an unforgettable bite of food.

ikura sushi

Ikura | @sushibybou_

Albacore nigiri was next. The light-hued tuna was laid atop rice before being kissed with a blow torch, melting some of the fat in the process. Before placing it in front of you, the chef brushes the fish with shoyu. Albacore has a firm texture, albeit less firm than ahi, and a mild flavor. Both the fish’s texture and flavor make it perfect for the blow torch. The sushi is sweet, salty and slightly smokey from the flame.

Then, like the ikura, seaweed and rice was topped with chopped tuna. Unlike the tuna before it, seaweed flavor permeates the fish’s flavor and the chopping technique creates a textural experience that eats entirely different from the nigiri. A perfect display of how a talented sushi chef can present two pieces of the same fish in entirely different ways. 

Scallop—or, hotate—and miso cod followed. Hokkaido scallops are sliced and laid upon a bundle of warm sushi rice. These scallops are special. Beyond the fact that they virtually melt in your mouth seconds after eating, the scallop meat is unbelievably luscious and sweet. The miso cod then appears in direct contrast. Miso-marinated cod is broiled before being prepared as a classic nigiri. As a cooked piece of fish, this differed greatly from its predecessors but was similarly as impressive.

Sushi By Bou Albacore

Albacore | @sushibybou_

Then, my favorite fish to eat was placed before me: Toro. Toro is the fatty tuna derived from the belly. Its meat is unctuous and buttery. Unlike the lean tuna, which was bright red, toro is more of an opaque pink because of the fat that is infused through each fiber of meat. The chef torches this before seasoning it simply with salt. Upon eating, the toro will instantly begin to melt on your tongue and it leaves a rich sensation on your palate that will have you yearning for more. 

Salmon nigiri is then prepared. Each slice of salmon is topped with a dot of sauce made from yuzu and hot peppers. The combination of these two intense flavors was ideal as it held up profoundly to salmon’s natural salinity.

salmon sushi by bou

Salmon | @sushibybou_

It would not be a Sushi By Bou tasting without some form of gluttony. That’s where the Wagyuni comes into play. Imported sea urchin from Hokkaido is combined with a slice of blow-torched wagyu beef and sushi rice. The surf and turf combo is then wrapped in seaweed and handed directly to the guest. This is undoubtedly one of the more intense bites of food I have had in some time. The creamy uni is naturally briny in flavor which helps to cut through the richness of wagyu beef. It is one of those bites of food that almost makes you feel guilty—it’s that good. 

The final piece of the omakase is BBQ eel, or unagi. Eel is broiled with sweet eel sauce—a combination of soy sauce, sugar and mirin. The sweet and smoky fish is the perfect end to your 12 courses.

Now, if the 12 courses end and you find yourself still craving a touch more of luxury, you could always ask the chef for a Big Mac. No, not the legendary double patty with shredded lettuce, cheese, onion, special sauce and a sesame bun. I’m talking a Big Mac Sushi By Bou style. This will get you a hand roll of sushi rice, wagyu beef, toro, scallop and uni (think of it as Big Mac sauce). This playful display of greed is undeniably delicious. Plus, it’s fun to tell your friends you had a Big Mac at your omakase.   

Sushi By Bou is slowly becoming the place for curious diners to wet their feet in the world of Omakase. The accessible tasting experience is the perfect spot for true sushi lovers to have a night out. With the concept finally making its way into Hoboken, residents can rejoice in the luxury that is Sushi By Bou. 


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About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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