NEWSDAY – January 22, 2014 By PETER M. GIANOTTI
**** 4 STARS
This great sushi spot opens in what had been the glassed-in, cigars-and-Cognac space in Tom Schaudel’s Jewel in Melville. The beverage now is superb sake; the smoke, reserved for finishing duck and salmon.
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Be-Ju is as serene and pristine as Jewel is buoyant and brassy. It arrives in creamy hues and deep earth tones, seating about 20, plus seven in the sushi bar’s glistening chairs. The restaurant-within-a-restaurant offers some of the best uncooked fish on Long Island.
Chefs Shigeki Uchiyama, who worked with Schaudel at the original Thom Thom in Wantagh, and Hiroki Tanii perform at the sushi bar. Schaudel sometimes appears there, too.
Uchiyama and Tanii present exceptionally rich and meticulously sliced fatty tuna, all soft pink and white; and grand, velvety medium-fatty tuna. Yellowtail, amberjack and Japanese mackerel also are outstanding.
Be-Ju holds out marvelous, wild bluefin tuna and superior, paté-style discs of steamed monkfish liver, with sea urchin and ponzu sauce. Kumamoto oysters are served with pearls of mango, cucumber and verjus.
The kitchen delivers a wonderful shrimp-and-sea urchin risotto, hinting of ginger, garlic and lemongrass, sporting a gleam of gold leaf; yellowtail with a dab of lightly spicy red-pepper mousse; and a masterfully excessive lobster roll, kaleidoscopic with crab, avocado and cucumber, wrapped in soy paper, topped with a perfect cut claw.
Delicate Lapsang Souchong tea-smoked salmon announces itself with an aromatic puff when the little jar that holds it is opened. Star-anise smoked Long Island duck breast is good, probably the chewiest choice on the menu. Tuna tataki climaxes with a shaving of black truffle.
It’s populist that Be-Ju also sends out a spicy tuna roll, one that emphasizes the fish and allows you to forget all those incendiary versions that mask dull seafood. A well-made California roll is available, too, just in case.
You’ll enjoy the bracing soup with chicken, coconut, green curry and kaffir lime that’s dubbed “Asian penicillin,” and the gently earthy, satisfying mushroom dashi soup with nutty honshimejis.
Coconut tapioca, with mango sorbet and black-sesame cake croutons; apple-filled pot stickers with soy-caramel dip; yuzu-white chocolate semifreddo with toasted coconut; and a chocolate-wasabi bombe with ginger-chocolate sauce spark the desserts.
Be-Ju implies bijou: something refined, prized. It’s a gem.
Melville’s Be-Ju Sashimi & Sake Bar serves a masterfully excessive lobster roll, kaleidoscopic with crab, avocado and cucumber, wrapped in soy paper and is topped with a perfect cut claw.
Be-Ju Sashimi & Sake Bar
Tuesday11:30-3pm | 5-10pm
Wednesday11:30-3pm | 5-10pm
Thursday11:30-3pm | 5-10pm
Friday11:30-3pm | 5-11pm
Saturday5:00 PM -11:00 PM