Byeong Seok Lee
$110 / $150 / $230
When Chef Byeong Seok Lee became Executive Chef of Neta in 2017 you could easily taste how this restaurant was instantly elevated. Chef Lee first started working at Neta in 2013 and fused together his love of both eastern and western cooking to create some of the most eclectic flavors we’ve tasted at any sushi-based restaurant in a long time. You will also see influences from his birth place, Korea, in dishes such as the Kobe Bulgogi Crispy Rice where the rich meat melts in your mouth and is accompanied by a crunchy rice such as the kind found on the sides of a bibimbap. Our last visit was specifically to try one of his three Omakase services, and we were a bit surprised, but by no means upset, to be served this unexpected Korean dish as one of our Omakase courses. Overall, Neta serves up some fresh, innovative, and delicious dishes, but the lack of focus on both service and sushi took this omakase down a couple of notches for us.
While the rice served was above average, it was clear that it was not a focus at Neta as much as at other Omakase restaurants we’ve reviewed. It was not kept warm, it was not refreshed during the service, and it was under-seasoned; however, it was still very light, and a good combination of fluffy and sticky. It did not detract from the flavor of the fish, but it did not add that warm, sweet, and slightly vinegary flavor that we’ve come to love. Next time we go back to visit Neta we're hoping to see improvements in the preparation and service of the rice. We also ordered an expensive bottle of Sake that was not properly refrigerated, so these are two areas they specifically had issues with.
We opted for the $230 Omakase service so we could give you our review of their top offering. This was also highly recommended by the Neta manager because it contained A5 Wagyu, Osetra Caviar, and two courses containing Uni which is very hard for us to turn down. The first surprise was that they opened the service with a salad course that contained no fish. It did contain roasted squash, burrata, pea shoots and walnuts and it was both seasonal and delicious. But, for the price of the meal, we felt this was out of place. They more than made up for it with the Blue Fin Toro/Uni/Osetra Caviar course that was gilded with delicate flakes. All of the flavors worked really well together, and the freshness really stood out. The only complaint here is that the Toro was heavily minced, and while it did have amazing flavor the texture of the Toro was lost. The rest of the courses were all outstanding with special mention going to the sea bream, grapefruit, roasted cauliflower, radish, microgreens and foam course which would have been the perfect opening. The buttery scallop served in a giant scallop shell with miso-soy broth, Uni and cilantro had us wanting more. There were about 8 pieces of sushi, and while they were fresh and tasty, they weren’t anything special. The tuna and tempura crunch maki roll was a nice substitute for a handroll.
The service at Neta was disjointed. We did not have a dedicated sushi chef who would normally be cutting and arranging sushi plates in front of us, which is expected when sitting at the sushi bar, especially at the top price we paid. The fish seemed to be precut in some cases which was very disappointing as we like to see some good knife skills from a sushi chef who has been doing it for years. This is a big part of the Omakase experience and Neta did not deliver. The dishes from the kitchen were brought out by people who were not our waiter and were not sure who in our party had asked for slight alterations. They were also not able to explain the dishes very well and we’d need to ask multiple times what we were being served. We also ordered an expensive bottle of Sake that was not properly refrigerated and had to wait to enjoy the bottle while it was being chilled.
There was a perfect amount of food served that night at Neta. We were definitely full, but then again we could have been full for a lot less money. They did serve an amazing desert course which was very satisfying and the perfect finish to a good meal overall.
For a sushi restaurant, Neta is on the larger side. There are about 12 seats at the sushi bar, and there are a number of tables and booths throughout the restaurant. This definitely isn’t the place to go if you like that one-on-one attention with your sushi chef or even your waiter for that matter, but if you’re going out for a night with a group of friends, perhaps this would be the better scenario. We went to Neta after work and it was pretty quiet then, but keep in mind that it does get pretty clubby after 9. On our way out, people were filing in and the house music was getting louder. The space is modern-meets-traditional, with the tables, booths and décor being more modern and the sushi bar retaining that traditional element.