Biutoro on Magazinea new sushi bistro, opened in March in the Lower Garden District.
Bisutoro on Magazine focuses on Japanese dishes you won’t find anywhere else and a rotating fish specialty 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 her culinary training in Japan and made sushi at ski resorts in Utah before moving to New Orleans 11 years ago. He said he wanted 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 like chu toro, a medium fatty bluefin tuna from Spain and Mexico; shima aji, a hot water fish from Japan; and ankimo, a Massachusetts monkfish liver pâté, are currently on the menu.
Medina is originally 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 Warehouse District’s bustling sushi hub.
He was educated in New Orleans and pursued a passion for food that first took root in Cuba. “I enjoyed cooking in Cuba while studying dentistry,” Medina said.
The varied small plate menu includes fish crackers, duck tataki, scallops and house steak. Traditional style rolls or makis include salmon satsuma: salmon, red crab, green onion tempura, lemon, satsuma ponzu wrapped in soy paper; Tuna Poke: yellowtail, red crab, avocado, tuna and poke sauce; and Maui Waui: spicy tuna, cucumber, grilled pineapple, kanpachi, mashed cilantro habanero and macadamia nuts.
Handmade rolls, called temaki, vegetarian nigiri and vegetarian maki complete 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 mayonnaise and various sauces are also made on site.
The cocktail program is understandably Japanese-inspired, with Smith and Medina adding a Japanese twist to familiar drink classics – all cocktails here are made with Japanese liquor.
“The Japanese bartender is very different from the American bartender, 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 crystallized 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 serve upscale sushi, they do so in a warm and relaxed atmosphere. “The restaurant plays great music and we have candles lit,” Smith said. “It’s a welcoming place for the neighborhood.
The outdoor patio is dog-friendly, he noted, and he’d like to see the restaurant become a neighborhood hangout.
“I want people to know it’s a casual place where they can stop for a bite to eat for dinner or 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 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Journalist Marielle Songy can be reached at [email protected].