Nori, A French-Influenced Japanese Restaurant (Finally) Opens in Old Saybrook
There’s something to be said for slapping a sign on a building and leaving townfolk to wonder for months whether the place will ever actually open its doors. In Nori’s case, it created enough buzz to fill the place upon finally opening (and with little fanfare). We ran over on day three (giving them a few days to sort out service), and were thrilled with this new spot.
Old Saybrook (and the surrounding towns) has been desperate for good Japanese, and Nori delivers. From a full menu of interesting cold sake and creative Japanese-inspired cocktails to sushi, sashimi, and entrees that will appeal to the raw-fish averse, there is literally something for every diner.
The sushi bar is stacked with tender, fresh-off-the-boat fish, with the master chefs busily constructing elegant platters. The presentation is over-the-top, with sashimi served in a compartmentalized tray; each section displaying slim slabs atop a pile of daikon, with an amusing neon light in the center. Quite the show-stopper!
A sushi plate appeared with a wooden bridge laden with salmon and tuna and fresh rolls alongside. For the less adventurous, the Chilean sea bass was succulent and prepared with scrumptious broccolini, roasted baby potatoes, and white or fried rice alongside. The grilled salmon was equally delish, and the chicken teriyaki portion was enough for two. The generously sized tuna poke bowl is a packed with flavor and texture: crunchy cucumber, creamy avocado, a pile of edamame, and sweet chunks of tuna piled on seaweed salad in a secret house glaze.
Start with the tasty crispy tuna appetizer, the creamy silken edamame miso soup (the secret is a bit of edamame blended in) and the crunchy crab Kani salad, but don’t go too crazy, as portions are ample. The sake menu is vast and the cocktails are impressive as well. We tried the “Indigo Lady”, a blend of Empress Gin, elderlower liqueur, lemon juice and egg white foam. Mochi and classic Japanese ice cream are offered for dessert, but as per our usual, we had over-ordered, so next time we’ll aim to save room.
The room is stylish and inviting, with Asian influences, but not in the least overdone. The sushi bar is the main attraction, with cozy booths and tables lining the walls. We ran into friends, and the staff happily accommodated us when we asked to sit together (more for us to taste!)
Good to know: An 13-course Omakase tasting menu (chef’s choice) is available at the bar by reservation. $98.
Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, closed Sunday and Monday.