Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
The Sushi Chef: John Daley

The Sushi Chef: John Daley


Three weeks ago
I had the best bite I’ve had in the past
five years outside Japan. A taco with crickets and
shit, man, it was awesome. Shit paused. Shit paused for me. I tasted umami. You know what
fucking umami is? I’ll tell you all right
now what umami is. Umami isn’t a flavor. Umami is the unnameable. Umami is when you will
only know, cherish, remember the flavor of
that moment in time. It’s what every chef
should quest for in every bite
of their food. Good afternoon,
this is chef John Daley, New York Sushi Ko. How may I help you? I’m the owner, and the
manager, and the chef, and the sous chef. New York Sushi Ko
was setup as an intimate
dining experience. If there are any walls
between the guests and myself, they can easily
be broken down with food, drink, or conversation. It’s just trying to
forge a bond and make customers guests. And not look at it
like a transaction. Come in, have fun, stay. When you sit down
at a sushi bar and you are requesting you’re
putting yourself in the hands of
the establishment and, more importantly,
the hands of the chef. And he is suppose to take
you through a wonderful path of many flavors. Textures, and also a bit of himself
tied in there as well. So essentially omakasi
means chefs choice. That’s why there’s
no menu, so I can have fun, and
we can have fun. We have a higher price
point than many other sushi bars in town
because of the product being sourced every
day from Japan. Virtually any food that’s
prepared all passes through my hands for
the first year and a half of the restaurant
being open. I received everything and processed everything
entirely on my own. It does take its toll and it does lend itself to
isolation but it’s very rewarding to be able to
just have total control over the food and over
my product in the space. That’s something that you
don’t get in a larger restaurant. Most of your hikarimono,
or silver skin fish, are fish that
do get salting. The salting not only acts
as a purifying agent, also as a preservative. One of the things that
I’m comfortable with letting go of are the
things that I actually want my assistant to do,
and I’m certainly comfortable with letting
go of scaling and gutting a fish. You know I want my
assistant to do that. Don’t forget our
mother fish. These have a lot of
little tiny difficult scales that need
to be addressed. Every scale not just
the ones in the way. Thank you sir. Yes sir.
Hey, good job. I’ve recently taken on
an assistant whose been pretty cool,
pretty loyal. Ricky-son, he’s
a nice guy. He has experience cooking
in Puerto Rico and also in New York as well. Right now he’s just
cleaning fish. I’ve been working for
John for at least two months,
at this point. I’m fairly new, but I’m his first
apprentice ever. John and I have known
each other for two years. We’re good friends and,
drinking buddies and we used to see each
other in the late night. My brother struggles
Newport’s for me. Do you know hard it
is to get a carton of cigarettes in
your ass my man? Yes. I’m Puerto Rican and
all so, it can happen. It’s been very nice, it’s
a lot of hard work, but he’s passing on
a lot of knowledge. To me that, that I
couldn’t get elsewhere. You ready to bring those
vegetables over here? Start doing some
heavy lifting? I taught him how to cut
vegetables properly, the Japanese method. And so he’s able to
assist me in some of my day to day tasks. Ricky, move the
vegetable, not the knife. He’s driven. Try your left hand. Guided by the right. The blade stays in place. Two year old vinegar. We’ve had that
since opening. And it gets
better with age? It picks up more of
the flavors, but you have to maintain it,
but as long as it has
proper acidity, all it’s doing is just
gathering flavor. So we have here a little
bit of Japanese walnuts, sugar, Sato
from Japan and a bit of my rice blend
I was working for 20 years in restaurants,
for 15 years as a cook or a chef, if you want
to call me a chef. All of my experience
from my amassed time in all food aspects from washing dishes in
Chinese restaurant, to making mozzarella, to
pulling yogurt in TCBY, to flipping grilled
cheese at Friendly’s. It all ties in here. There’s not one
experience that I’ve had that at some point
in the two years that I’ve been at
New York Sushi Co, I haven’t had to
draw on in some way. I have introspective Madonna playing in
my head right now. It’s really
driving me nuts. Have you been listening
to Madonna recently? No.
No, just flashes throughout
my life, they keep coming back to
me in waves of Madonna. So I grew up
a single child, to a single parent and my
mom worked her ass off. And there were times
that we had to eat Spam. I always said, I’m never gonna eat
that shit ever again. I don’t take the bus, I don’t eat spam because
of my childhood. And still don’t
take the bus, but you find yourself getting accustomed
to Spam Musubi. But I love it, so
when it’s those, I gotta do something
to keep warm mentally. And that’s, I make
Hawaiian food to do it. So we do some spam fried
rice and Spam Musubi, and all this and all that. Spam, you’ve got a place
at my sushi bar. Yes. When I was like 12, 14, I go I want to
be a sushi chef, I go this guy plays with
knives all day long. They’re like you can’t,
because you’re not Asian. I’d be in working at
Massa after years of cooking and being a chef,
that was my first real introduction to
Japanese food. Having my first
sushi meal, my first Omakase at 15
East, made me like hand’s down, there’s nothing
else I want to do. Nothing else. We were referring back
to this picture here, of my master, my master’s
master, and my Sensei. We were on the walk to
Skiji market, and I said, hey guys, say cheese,
and I took a picture. My master is
Masato Shimizu, he is operating
at the 15 East. I had originally gone to the job position
wanting to hone my skill set before we go into
Japan to find a master. I told him the story
of the interview, and he said,
I’ll be your master, and then you can go work
with my master in Japan. Yes.
Done. So after working
with my master for three years,
I then went to Japan and worked with his master,
I even lived in the same apartment he
lived in, walked the same streets that he walked
from shop to apartment. Through my training in
Japan is how I’m able to provide the fish
that I am. My master used his
master’s connections. I’m not using my
master’s connections, I’m using my master’s,
master’s connections, because everyday and
I would try to communicate at
best or just really. My first month I was
quiet, I just watched. Second month I was
able to take fish out. Third month I would
talk to the vendor, and I asked about prices. That’s very big. And what’s great about
that is that I can literally go,
no way dude. That tray is 64
bucks in Japan. You can’t charge
me $98 for it, it doesn’t cost you $38
to send me that tray. Actually doing the food,
and actually getting
the preparations, job number one. All the layers
get added up, and then it all kind
of comes together. And it’s funny how we
wind up being finished with everything at
the right time. Oh look, the soup is
done at the same time this fish is done, at the
same time this is done. And that’s when
I feel like everything went the way
it was supposed to go. All right, cool. And then we take a break. I think they like you
more than the stick. I know. Hello. How do you want
to play though? That’s the best I
got is the stick. They just wanted
me to run and play with them and
frolic. Ken, the little one, is
about four years old and Pierre is almost two. They’re my little
sous chefs. Ready? That’s amazing. Hostess! Have you ever tried
smoking your underpants? There’s certainly
an interaction between guests and a sushi chef. That’s why we’re
not in the kitchen. A lot of my negative
reviews, they attack my personality and
the things I say. And I go every other
chef in town is so lucky, they can hide behind
their kitchen doors. So that comes with
it’s own training too. Please, this is
uni from Japan. I hope so,
from Japan right?>From Japan, yes sir. I’ve been training
Ricky some of that, towards the later
hours of the night, we have more regular,
more familiar guests. I start to get a little
loose with the things I say and he’s not
allowed to laugh. I knew what we get him. He’s Norris right, so I walk up to him
I go hey Norris, my dick’s bigger
than yours. Same thing. He starts laughing too. He starts laughing too. Gives up the money
in a second. He goes, you got me, because I hear things
all night long. I’ll hear intimate
conversations that I had absolutely no part
of being in and like there’s times
when I’ll have to step off the line and
kind of like. Oh my god. Either laugh or
just breath. Just get it out for a second then come back
you know it is a stage. So I whispered to the
horse I go, you remember last week when I told you
that I had a big dick? He starts laughing. He says, Yeah.
I go, Well, let me show you. Let’s go to the bathroom. And he showed him. So, the horse
left crying. That was a great joke. Long though. Now, next time you make sushi you’re
gonna tell that joke. Yes, chef. Good job. That’s why it was so
long, so you remember it. Usually we leave
the playing around outside of
the restaurant. While we’re in the
restaurant usually it’s pretty straight laced. And he’s got this new
rule that he talked to you about, that I can’t
laugh, because I have a very booming, loud
laugh, cuz i’m Latin.. So that’s been part of
my training actually and it sounds dumb but
it’s actually very, very, very helpful. Shelby, do I know her? Who? Who the fuck are you
dropping food off to? It’s a bartender over.. Touch her hand and let me smell it after,
when you are done. Yes, chef all right. All right,
let’s do this guys. So we are taking us
a Sheme boomerang over to 151 bar. They’ve been sending
us drinks, so we’re gonna send them
a little bit of fish. It’s kind of weird
walking around in two in the morning with a tray
full of expensive fish from Japan into
Lower East Side. Does it happen every day? It’s not the norm. What are some
of the trades that have happened so
far? Well, Chef used to make
a big slabs of wood filled with sushi for
Black Crescent, right before they
burnt down, and he would send down
A lot of food for them or he would go to a bar and
after they closed down, he had a contact for
Japanese food, so he would just order tons
of Japanese food for everybody at the bar
sitting down. Or the bar tenders
breaking down and all the chefs breaking down which
is a really nice gesture. So their specialty
here is frozen drinks. So yeah they send over frozen drinks
all the time. Hey check this out. Oh my God.
So he sent you a little
Sashimi plate. Oh my gosh. Did we just make
friends basically is what happens. Here we have little
bit of Ecula, Compache lean meat tuna. Some Uni from Japan. Mackerel, with
a little bit of mackerel tartar
on the bottom. And a little
bit of Otoro, fatty tuna from
New Jersey. We’re gonna
come back yeah. See you like in an hour. You guys are still gonna
be open to four right? Oh yeah I’ll be here. Okay I’ll see you. Take care don’t worry. I don’t always need
to go have a fine dining experience. But you can have a finer
experience dining. Forget my voice,
I took all my guests to the Yankee game
the other day. Instead of service or
making them sushi, I made them Uber’s and
took us all that. Like Andy Kaufman
was my inspiration. He took his whole
show out to go see, to go have milk and
cookies once. So I took everyone to the
Yankee’s game on Friday. Is that true? Why would I lie about
this shit to you? It was really saying,
you gotta do it. Like if you have an idea,
and you want to try it,
try it. If you’re just
sitting on shit then you’re wasting your life,
you know. Do they ever get sushi? No. They got sushi
before though. I’m lucky enough to be
able to open up $200 per person sushi bar in
the lower East side now, when the only thing you
can get down here is an eight ball of cocaine
for $200 ten years ago. And so
this Babylon falls, we’re it right now,
we’re where it’s at.

100 comments on “The Sushi Chef: John Daley

  1. amazing dedication excellent quality & cooking skills ! hands down no doubt about it but professionally a business should be runned with class verbally especially a upscale priced establishment!!! wish you guys luck

  2. That can of spam is fuckin 10 dollars here in korea. Pretty much anything is labeled as 'luxury food' in this shit country.

  3. I don't know. Umami seems like it's an actual taste that can be quantified and observed in a controlled environment. The chef sounds like he's sensationalizing umami. I could be wrong.

  4. wow what a restaurant. Food looks amazing except for spam (yuk wth). seriously a good sushi chef takes into account his customer's reviews and tries his best to please every sushi customer (omasake right ?)

  5. Looks like chef paid his dues and knows his product. But I see no Asians in the place nor does he have any Michelin stars. Shrug…..

  6. The assistant looks so disappointed having to use that knife to scale the fish….he would prefer to use his penis methinx 🙁

  7. "Umami isn't a flavor, it's the unnamable. […] it's what every chef should quest for in every bite of their food"
    A bit of an annoying quite. don't try to tell me that any dish can be umami. Most desserts for example…
    We all know umami = a kind of meaty flavor.

  8. The comments on this video is a representation of what’s wrong with the restaurant business. People automatically assume this guys pretentious because he’s a white guy that loves to make sushi. They discredit the years he spent in Japan actually training while these keyboard warriors call him a hipster for the aforementioned reason. These people that are so quick to judge have never trained in Japan much less made sushi at all but yet everyone’s an authority on food nowadays despite the fact that if you have them the exact same supplies they wouldn’t know what the fuck to do. To call this man pretentious just because he’s a white guy that loves making sushi actually shows that you are pretentious because you’re trying to act like you know more than this man despite no training at all.

  9. 3:44 he is a gay and I want that sushi 🙂 just because I am not a gay but because he is got in it, in it ? like Ali says…

  10. You this guy is bs when he said he tasted umami and said umami isn’t a flavor when the Japanese have worked for years that it is a flavor. So he experienced umami but umami is a flavor and not an experience

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