Bisutoro on Magazine, a new sushi bistro, opened in March in the Lower Garden District.
Bisutoro on Magazine’s focus is Japanese dishes that you won’t find anywhere else and a rotating specialty fish list that includes selections from around the world. Chefs and owners Ryan Smith and Dariel Medina serve an array of nigiri, sashimi, hand rolls and other small plates.
Smith, who grew up in Salt Lake City, received his culinary training in Japan and made sushi at Utah ski resorts before relocating to New Orleans 11 years ago. He said he wants to bring traditional Japanese sushi, in all its simplicity, to the city he loves.
“I want to make dishes with specialty fish that you don’t usually find here,” Smith said. “The theme of the restaurant is to offer something different. I want to bring the Japanese menu back to simplicity.”
Fish such as chu toro, a medium fatty bluefin from Spain and Mexico; shima aji, a warm-water fish from Japan; and ankimo, a monkfish liver pate from Massachusetts, are currently on the menu.
Medina hails from Cuba, where he worked as a dentist before moving to New Orleans six years ago. He was introduced to the local food industry when he started working at Rock-n-Sake, the bustling sushi hub in the Warehouse District.
He received his training in New Orleans and continued a passion for food that first took root in Cuba. “I enjoyed cooking in Cuba while I was studying dentistry,” Medina said.
The diverse small plate menu includes fish cracklings, duck tataki, scallops and house steak. Traditional-style rolls or maki include Salmon Satsuma: salmon, red crab, tempura green onion, lemon, satsuma ponzu wrapped in soy paper; Tuna Poke: yellowtail, red crab, avocado, tuna and poke dressing; and Maui Waui: spicy tuna, cucumber, grilled pineapple, kanpachi, habanero cilantro puree and Macadamia nuts.
Hand rolls, known as temaki, veggie nigiri, and veggie maki round out the menu. Smith notes that while some sushi restaurants use imitation crab meat in their rolls, Bisutoro on Magazine uses red snow crab meat. Japanese mayo and other sauces are also made in-house.
The cocktail program is, naturally, Japanese inspired, with Smith and Medina adding a Japanese twist to familiar drink classics — all cocktails here are made with Japanese liquor.
“Japanese bartending is a lot different from American bartending, and I wanted to come up with a simple menu,” Smith said.
One of the restaurant’s most popular cocktails is the Japanese Mule, made with Haku Vodka, yuzu juice and wasabi ginger ale, topped with crystalized sweet ginger and a sprinkle of matcha powder. Another popular drink is the Japanese Slipper made with Midori Liqueur, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and a cherry garnish.
Although Smith and Medina are serving upscale sushi, they are doing so in a cozy and casual atmosphere. “The restaurant plays good music and we have candles lit,” Smith said. “It’s a welcoming place for the neighborhood.”
The outdoor seating is dog friendly, he noted, and he’d like to see the restaurant become a neighborhood hangout.
“I want people to know that this is a casual place where they can stop in and grab a bite to eat for dinner or get a cocktail after work,” Smith said. “It’s good food that won’t break your wallet.”
Bisutoro on Magazine is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m.
Reporter Marielle Songy can be reached at email@example.com.