“I think this is the only place with Thai omakase in New York,” says chef Atip Tangjantuk of his restaurant Sushi on Me in Jackson Heights, Queens. “I am proud of what I do, because I brought together two things that I love.”
Tangjantuk blends the cooking and ingredients of his Thai heritage with traditional sushi techniques to make for a unique omakase experience. With the Seven train rattling the underground, kitchen-less space, he creates dishes like anago panang curry and a tamarind salmon dish that’s a play on the Thai snack dish miang kham.
Using strong Thai flavors with sushi “represents my identity without destroying the flavor of the fish itself, which is already good,” Tangjantuk says as he prepares his tamarind salmon sauce. He boils water on a hot pot right on the sushi counter and adds in sugar cane, noting how prevalent it is in Thailand. Tamarind juice, fried onions, and chili paste follow. He then browns the salmon with a blow torch for more flavor. Once the sauce comes together, he stacks pieces of blackened salmon in a fishbowl-like vessel, adds the sauce, and pipes in smoked rosemary until the bowl is completely filled with cloudy white smoke for a unique aroma.
“Omakase in most people’s understanding is ‘chef’s choice,’ a menu that a chef decides on. This is my meaning of the omakase I’m doing today,” he says. “I’m not Japanese, but I respect food. I love Thai food. That’s why I’m combining the two... I want to create something unique for people to see that it’s possible. Thai people can do it, too.”
Check out the video to see more Thai-inspired sushi dishes from chef Tangjantuk.