Yuhi Fujinaga has been appointed the new Executive Chef of The Sea Grill in New York City's Rockefeller Center. The young chef, born in Japan and raised in Hawaii, has an affinity for the sea rooted in his heritage. With a fresh approach and cooking style, his menus offer a variety of superb preparations both familiar and delightfully surprising, from sake-steamed black sea bass, to brined and smoked swordfish pastrami, plancha-grilled wild striped bass, trout first lightly cured in kombu and then smoked.
Chef Fujinaga often meditates on the background of each fish in his choice of preparation. For his Yellowfin Tuna à la Nicoise, the fish is cured in salt for twenty minutes, and then served with a taggiasca olive tapenade, tomato confit, and boquerones anchovies. Deep-sea Hawaiian Opakapaka is grilled a la plancha and sauced with a creamy lobster emulsion and vibrant purée of edamame, English peas and rosemary. His take on the beloved French classic, Rainbow Trout is almond-crusted and sauced with a shallot beurre blanc, alongside trout caviar and sorrel.
For a casual experience in the lounge, Chef Fujinaga’s new Sushi and Sashimi Lounge Menu showcases a variety of rolls, sashimi, and raw bar options. Signature items show layers of flavor with a creative touch, with items including Spicy Ahi Tuna Pressed Sushi, Long Island Fluke Ceviche with Passion Fruit and Mango, marinated and flash-seared Imperial Wagyu Beef Nigiri with Crispy Sushi Rice and Korean Barbeque Glaze. The chef selected his favorite sakes and crisp white wines to complement the menu, including a short list of Sake-tinis and specialty cocktails.
The Sea Grill’s new Montauk Seashore menu offers dishes based on the daily catch of Montauk, one of Chef Fujinaga’s favorite fishing areas. Its enclave community of fishermen and surfers inspired him to create a menu of devoted specials. Montauk’s laid-back, windswept style makes an ideal summer playlist of items evoking the fresh ocean air. Dishes such as East End Mussels, Beer Braised with Spanish Chorizo; Grilled Golden Tilefish with Manila Clams and Sake-Steamed Long Island Black Sea Bass bring the spirit, and flavors, of the beach to Rockefeller Center.
A protégé of Chef Ed Brown, who established the restaurant as one of the top seafood destinations in the city, Chef Fujinaga’s most recent position was chef de cuisine at New York’s Bar Basque. He lived and worked in Spain at the esteemed Echaurren with Chef Francis Paniego, at Casa Solla with Chef Pepe Solla, and at Gaminiz with Chef Aitor Elizegi. He held posts at the Michelin-starred restaurants Eighty-One and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.
Chef Fujinaga plans to bring back the Grilled Maine Lobster Pot, a crowd-pleasing summertime favorite. This flavorful combination of Maine lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo, and corn is served in a lightly spiced shellfish broth.