Osamu Koyama poured another glass of sweet, viscous sake, at the halfway point of a fantastically fun omakase meal which eventually put us out the grand total of $32.50.
Geido (331 Flatbush Ave, 718-638-8866) is an institution on the Brooklyn Japanese scene, the kind of place you feel nostalgia for when you leave town. Situated on a busy strip of Flatbush that realtors variously refer to as Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, or Park Slope (“It’s practically the West Village!”),Geido is a destination neighborhood spot.
White walls decorated in Crayola-colored graffiti encompass the dining room, the tables populated with diners representing a cross section of Brooklyn: a table of obvious Pratt professors sitting just behind hip-looking parents in their fifties, just to the right of a group of girls a couple of freelance food writers find too cute to approach.
A small sushi counter frames Koyama, the proprietor and founder of Geido. He’s 64 and handsome, dressed all in white. Standing with a straight back and slightly bent neck, he effortlessly slices fresh cuts of fish and the occasional vegetable. His face is slightly red, possibly from the sake stash he keeps at hand, from which he’ll occasionally pour into the cups of those sitting at the counter.
Osaka born, Koyama arrived in the U.S. at 24, after serving time in the Japanese army and a stint as an amateur wrestler. He got his start washing dishes at a restaurant in New Jersey, working his way up through the ranks before eventually opening Geido, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary in it’s present location.
Geido’s menu is fantastic. You’ll find rolls that suit every taste and desire and they’re excellently made. But the real treat, and arguably the greatest fish deal in town, occurs when you request a seat in front of Koyama at the sushi bar, as we did recently.
To start, a slowly-simmered daikon half was placed before us. Delicate and tender, it was lightly glazed with miso. It did what every great appetizer should do — make you more hungry.
The second course, a platter of dry-rubbed seared tuna topped with grated red radish, chopped scallions and ponzu, was as smooth as an Eighties David Ruffin solo album, with the bite of a Seventies David Ruffin solo album.
The third course, a lightly broiled mackerel, broke apart when explored by a fork.
Next came the main event — a large sashimi platter containing fresh and slightly chewy octopus, young mackerel, hamachi, Spanish mackerel and porgy with fermented plum, prompting my eloquent friend and dining companion to proclaim, “Dude, that was banging!”
Koyama kept it going with the sushi portion of the menu, from silky seared bonito to butterfish and slightly thick whelk with spicy cod roe, all served in two-piece increments.
Sitting at the counter, you make friends with those around you. Our seat neighbors happened to be old friends of Koyama from Japan, who run one of the oldest Judo studios in the NYC, Oishi Judo Club.
With a good buzz working and a smile, Osamu gave us the penultimate course — a buttery hand roll of eel and avocado.
To finish, Osamu sliced perfectly ripe persimmon and paired it with unshelled pistachios, exactly like those you can buy at a bodega. The mix of salty pistachios and sweet persimmon was complex; different and delicious, a reminder of the restaurant itself.