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suteishi_inside1.jpgFront Street is quickly becoming the center of Lower Manhattan’s nightlife revival. It’s the spine of several blocks between the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge that fortuitously managed to avoid the modern redevelopment that obliterated most of the original low-rise buildings downtown. There are a few other isolated pockets like it, but on Front Street, with its cobblestones and distressed brick facades, you actually feel like you’ve left the canyons of Wall Street far behind.

suteishi_outdoors.jpgSUteiSHI (spelled thus), which opened in early December, is a new example of what Front Street could become. It’s an edgy Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, with family-friendly service and a surprisingly fun menu. The left side of the menu features classic rolls, sushi, and sashimi; the right side features the chef’s original creations. Prices are modest, although an omakase can take you all the way up to $120, if you want to go that far.

Spicylicious shrimp ($14) was incredible. The golden sauce touched the perfect spicy and sweet notes, and the shrimp were both hot and crunchy.

A smoked salmon and avocado roll, with a sprinkling of fish roe ($10) was competently done, but the flavor was rather dull.

For dessert, the mochi ($6) were excellent: ice cream scoops (mango, chocolate with red beet, coffee) in a doughy flour crust, resembling dumplings. I had a small caraffe of warm sake to drink, which was just $5.

The décor is industrial chic. There are garage doors on one wall, which I’m sure will be wide open in the summer, with perhaps an outdoor café. From its perch at the corner of Front Street and Peck Slip, there are gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The clientele was a mixture of young professionals and families. I saw two parties there with children (don’t fret; they were well behaved), including the unusual sight (in Manhattan) of a child at the sushi bar. Service was excellent; at one point, the matre d’ even came over to my table and offered me a selection of magazines to read.

There is much more on the menu at SUteiSHI that looks like it’s worth exploring. As it is just a five-minute walk from my apartment, I suspect I’ll soon be a regular.

SUteiSHI (24 Peck Slip at Front Street, South Street Seaport)

Food: ★
Service: ★
Ambiance: ★½
Overall: ★

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