Kintsugi is the new sushi king of the North
Now serving at North Market Bridge Park in Dublin, Kintsugi Sushi Bar delivers on the promise suggested by its pedigree
The pandemic put a crimp in opening plans for the new North Market — aka the “north-er” North Market, North Market Bridge Park in Dublin — but the eagerly anticipated food-and-shopping hall persevered.
Presently, 13 of its purportedly soon-to-be 19 vendors are in place, and the trendy facility has been open seven days a week since April. In other words, the recently hatched suburban branch of the 145-year-old Downtown market is firing on most of its well-designed cylinders now.
Blending modern conveniences with industrial elements, North Market Bridge Park is an open, airy and buzzy place with brick archways, overhead ductwork, concrete floors and splashy murals that I’d like more of. Plenty of food-court-style seating is available — some outside — to accommodate visitors dining from a varied and appealing lineup of restaurant stalls, many of which are related to eateries in the other North Market.
One of these is Kintsugi Sushi Bar, which shares ownership with the fine Satori Ramen Bar in the elder market. The shared owner is chef Seigo Nishimura, whose resume includes training at the Tokyo Sushi Academy and working at a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant in New York.
With such bona fides and a high-profile location, I expected Kintsugi Sushi Bar — a fashionable stall featuring the sort of clean lines and light-colored wood popular in many sushi eateries — to be among the best of its kind in the area. Given the quality of its seafood, as well as the other things that I sampled, those expectations were generally met and then some.
I’ll begin with the “and then some” — lovable, smoke-scented, inexpensive yakitori. These kebab-like snacks, which arrived skillfully seared on a hibachi-style grill, provide even non-sushi fans with reasons to dine here.
I enjoyed every yakitori I tried: tender and juicy chicken teriyaki ($3.50); lusty beef tenderloin teriyaki ($5.50); asparagus snippets wrapped in thick, crusted bacon ($4.50); and attractively seared, perfectly salted Brussels sprouts ($2).
You really can’t go wrong with anything on the strong but navigable sushi menu. Said menu identifies the hand roll as Kintsugi’s signature item.
More formally called temaki, hand rolls are usually shaped like ice cream cones, but Kintsugi’s were just as likely to appear as small, burrito-esque cylinders bound in nori. Inside were harmonious combinations of high-grade proteins and garnishes, good sushi rice, plus prudently pre-applied wasabi and soy sauce, the latter delivered by a house-made gelee.
The excellent spicy tuna hand roll ($5.90; like most $5.90 hand rolls here, it’s also offered as easier-to-share “cut” uramaki — coin-shaped, rice-on-the-outside pieces — for $9.50) starred some of the best spicy tuna around. The fresh-tasting fish was compressed into an uncommonly dense mass bolstered by a judiciously applied and extra-spicy Japanese-mayonnaise-based sauce.
Prefer something milder? Try the torotaku hand roll ($5.90) — ahi tuna playing off pickled daikon — or the flavorful hamachi ($5.90) enlivened by scallions. Although my lobster hand roll ($7.90) tasted fantastic and was generously packed, it contained a shell shard. No harm, no foul, but this shouldn’t happen at a top-notch place like Kintsugi.
Seeking fish-free “sushi?” You’ll be hard-pressed to find many better seafood-less hand rolls than Kintsugi’s veggie ($4.90) — a bouquet-like arrangement of vegetables that tasted as good as it looked; the rare-around-these-parts, addictive and elote-conjuring corn mayo ($4.90); and the sweet tofu ($7.25).
Like stripped-down, traditional nigiri sushi? Both the hotate (Hokkaido scallop, $9.50) and sake (salmon, $6.50) showcased clean-tasting, silky seafood.
In a bells-and-whistles mood? The Bridge Park ($16) was a pricey but huge, great-looking and dynamic cut uramaki roll (with spicy tuna, fried shrimp nuggets, roe, surimi and more) that deliciously honored its site-celebrating name.
Kintsugi Sushi Bar - North Market Bridge Park
6750 Longshore Dr., Dublin