What could be a more satisfying experience than grooving to some great beats from a hot up-and-coming DJ? Well, it's hard to beat including another element of sensory input to that: How about adding some tasty cuisine from one of New York's hottest Japanese restaurants to the mix?
DJ Cassidy, who started his career at age 10 (when he asked his mom and dad for turntables and a mixer) and was traveling the world by age 17, has spun everywhere from Beyoncé and Jay Z's wedding to President Obama's inaugural ball in 2009. It's safe to say he's had plenty of great food along the way; however, there's a special restaurant the New Yorker keeps returning to over and over.
That's Chef Jack Hlaing's Takahachi, a tiny Manhattan spot that's won a loyal celeb clientele for its amazing, simple, and fresh sushi. Hlaing's had the restaurant open for about 14 years, 10 of which he's been friends with Cassidy. He explains that the DJ always trusts him to make whatever is best that particular day, putting his trust completely in "chef's hands."
Although Cassidy's been eating sushi since he was a little kid, he's never actually taken the preparation into his own hands. That all changed when Hlaing invited him behind the counter to give it a try!
"Have you ever seen a sushi chef wear a pink suede blazer before?” Cassidy joked. Hlaing hadn't, but he offered Cassidy his very own paper chef hat to replace his signature boater.
All kidding around aside, Cassidy noted to Hlaing that what he really appreciates about Takahachi is the purity of the preparation. "Too many tricks, for me, kind of takes away from the fish." While digging into their freshly made hand rolls, the pair discussed how non-Japanese elements such as avocado came into widespread "sushi equation" -- “Enough with the California roll!”-- and also talk about other etiquette such as how to incorporate ginger into the meal.
After enjoying the meal, Cassidy felt it only right to reciprocate with his own form of art. The two moved over to cocktail lounge Paul's Baby Grand so Cassidy could instruct Hlaing on how the art of mixing notes is similar/different to mixing ingredients. Using his current single, "Calling All Hearts" as a template, Cassidy soon had Hlaing (whose hands are usually busy putting together delectable bits of fish and rice) moving the turntables!
Overall, both artists agree that the greatest reward comes from their respective audiences, and it's a very simple one. "Smiles on their faces."
Want to get another "taste" of fun and unexpected music/dining pairings? Check back for more from Culinary Beats! We'll be running episodes through December on Yahoo Screen featuring some of the most exciting new talent out there.