I understand what Co-op, the trendy or used to be trendy, restaurant at the Hotel Rivington tries to accomplish. A nouveau spin on classic Japanese food to be understood by the masses. However, I guess the owners of Co-op didn’t quite get the message that sushi has been widely accepted and hiding raw fish and rice behind shishito peppers doesn’t give any justice to the dish.
Luckily, the awesome phone chargers and decently cool atmosphere, come 10pm, saved this place from being a complete bust, considering it was the only somewhat trendy Lower East Side restaurant I could get a table for 6 people at 7:45pm on a Saturday night as of Thursday (my favorite scene-y spot, Stanton Social, only had 5pm reservations available, and for a reason).
We entered inside to a somewhat rude waiter explaining the two dishes I was actually excited about, Lobster “Shots” and Peking Duck Pork Buns had been replaced with a butternut squash “shot” and a steak bun. I’m sorry, but those dishes are far from the same thing and it is early in your dinner service, you didn’t run out, your ordering staff is lazy.
Our meal began with edamame, lots of edamame. This dish was perfectly seasoned, nice and salty to my liking. We also ordered Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice which seemed more like Spicy Tuna (with a slice of jalapeno on top) on top of a chewy, fried piece of over-cooked rice. None the-less my friends needed to request soy sauce and then again, ginger and wasabi to accompany the dish they consider “sushi.”
We order a few sushi rolls, including the Co-op Roll, consisting of spicy tuna, rock shrimp tempura,and serrano pepper, and Tuna Tuna Roll, which included spicy tuna topped with tuna and yuzu dynamite sauce.
Next, we order the entree part of the meal, which actually put the appetizers to shame.
The hamachi sashimi was delicious, with sweet cilanto giving a unique earthiness to the dish, along with the subtle crunch and drizzle of miso. In addition, the Tuna Tataki, infused with miso, was a winner in my book, despite the overuse of black pepper. Also, the spicy (or supposedly spicy) Scallop Handroll added a unique dimension to the raw portion of the meal.
We concluded with the Whisky Glazed 28oz Steak and Truffle Mac and Cheese. These were both wonderful, although I didn’t understand the surplus of shishito peppers surrounding the steak. Maybe, they’re really inexpensive and look pretty? I don’t really get it, but the steak was cooked to a delightful medium-rare, retaining a moist interior. Definitely not the best steak of my life, but I enjoyed each bite. The mac and cheese was delicious, with the truffle flavor shining through. However, in the mix of a Japanese meal, this pasta dish stood out like a sore thumb.
Our dinner did end on a high note. It might have been all the wine, but the “Birthday Cake” dessert and the “Mochi,” finished the meal with a light sweetness, necessary after a ton of fish, rice and meat.
in the end, did I regret going to Co-op, no. Would I go back, no. It’s an over-rated scene of a restaurant for people who aren’t savvy enough to listen to Zagat or NYMagazine to realize what truly is out.
Co-op Food & Drink – 107 Rivington Street – New York, NY
Co-op Food & Drink
Location: Lower East Side, NY
Type: Sushi, Asian Fusion
Perfect For: Big Groups, Special Occasions, Late Night
Reservations: Recommended via Open Table
Favorite Dishes: Hamachi Sashimi, Tuna Tuna Yuzi Roll, Edamame