One of the first lessons New York City taught me is “not to judge a book by it’s cover”, which loosely translates to “don’t judge a restaurant by it’s door” … or lack thereof. As easy as it is to get caught up in all the new aesthetically pleasing eateries that pop up in my instagram feed everyday, there’s nothing more rewarding than discovering a hidden gem all on your own! A prime example: Pine Tree Sushi in Brooklyn, NY.
From the street Pine Tree Organics looks like a typical neighborhood bodega, filled with overflowing shelves of life’s essentials: fruit, cleaning supplies, and beer. Once you’re inside though, if you look hard enough, you can spot a set of mini steps in the very back, which lead to Pine Tree Sushi. Only a handful of tables, a small sushi counter, and minimal decor make up the restaurant, but I ask you to take a chance and trust me (Just like my friend Tammy did)!
The heart and soul of Pine Street Sushi is the owner and Japanese trained Sushi Chef, Sensai Mario Ramirez. Ramirez is at Pine Street seven days a week, turning out beautiful colorful sushi platters. If you ask nicely enough, he’ll even whip you up a custom roll tailored to whatever you’re craving. Even though the restaurant is small he has a loyal delivery and catering following, which allow him to have a wide variety of different fresh sashimi daily.
Since this was my second time dining at Pine Tree Sushi, I already knew that I wanted to start with Tuna Tataki (secret item not on the menu!) aka what stole my heart the first visit. Ramirez was kind enough to let me behind the counter, so that I could document the blow torch action and precise execution of this flavorful dish. Now that we had some brain food and complimentary hot tea, we could actually focus on the menu. Lucky for us we both agreed that our first roll had to be the “Tania Roll.” I know some of you might have had a bad experience with a Tania back in the day, but how can you say no to a roll comprised of a Spicy Tuna and Cucumber interior, and a Spicy Crab, Avocado, Tobiko topping!? Every bite had the perfect amount of crunch and cream, so that we could really enjoy the flavors of the fish and not have them drowned out by a mountain of spicy mayo (don’t get me wrong I love that stuff).
Now that we had filled our tuna void, we were on to salmon. There were several salmon options on the menu, but we decided to put our fate in Mario’s hands, and once again he blew us away. He created us the ultimate salmon roll: Salmon, Mango, Crunchies, Avocado interior, topped with cooked Salmon, Tobiko, and Scallions. I personally love mango in/on anything and everything, and I really enjoyed the flavor combo between the mango and eel sauce on this roll.
At this point my friend and I agreed that we were coming dangerously close to being full, but we couldn’t risk getting home and still being hungry, so we ordered the Yellowtail and Jalapeño Sashimi in Ponzu Sauce. What we didn’t know, was that Chef Ramirez was going to also treat us to a centerpiece of fresh baby scallops. I’m a sucker for spice and heat, and always look forward to the yellowtail/jalapeño pairing. I also have to comment on the portion sizes of all of our dishes, OUTSTANDING!
Pine Tree Sushi: The Verdict
I am a firm believer that you can taste the difference in food when it’s made with passion and pride. Chatting with Chef Ramirez about his love of sushi and dedication to his restaurant was such a fun/personal addition to our dining experience. If you’re looking for a fancy date night spot, Pine Tree Sushi might not be the place, but if you’re looking to catch up with a friend over fresh delicious sushi this is the spot! I’m a little bummed that he doesn’t deliver all the way to me house, but am looking forward to coming back and enjoying another wonderful meal at Pine Tree Sushi.
Pine Tree Organics, 744 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (646) 518-1297