"What's this one?" we asked her, pointing to an unadorned roll resting on her midsection. "I don't know," she replied. "Can you show it to me?" We obliged, picking up the piece of sushi with our chopsticks and holding it above her head. "Ummmm, I'm not sure." For the record, it was a piece of imitation crab wrapped in rice and seaweed. We popped it in our mouth, and it wasn't half bad.
Cheetahs is promoting its celeb-inspired room to visitors who are enchanted with the actor's lothario-esque ways. They debuted the branding a few months ago, and Sheen promptly threatened to sue them for using his name. They desisted for a bit, but this week they've rechristened the VIP in his honor, lawsuit be damned. While it's unclear if the thespian actually enjoys eating sushi off partially clad women, Cassandra's single garment was printed with the star's moniker, and a mysterious announcer kept intoning, "Be sure to check out the Charlie Sheen VIP area" to the four patrons in the bar room.
While it's trendy for NYC strip clubs to grill steaks these days, this joint takes it further and serves a full menu of sushi and sake at all times. But if you want the VIP treatment, you have to reserve in advance. The manager explained that you can get body sushi for a minimum of four people - it's $250 per person for unlimited sushi and sake, and you can customize more than just the fillings of the rolls. "You can let us know what kind of girl you like, and we can make it happen," he explained, and then paused before continuing. "Within reason, of course." We tried to imagine what would fall outside of reason, but decided not to go there.
We did learn a few things on this tasting trip. First up, "body sushi" doesn't mean "naked sushi." Eucalyptus leaves were strategically positioned to protect whatever sliver of modesty was still possible in this back room, and Cassandra herself was wrapped in Saran wrap, Dexter style. The NYC Health Department can rest assured that the Japanese grub here does not actually come in contact with any human flesh - thigh, stomach or otherwise. The other thing we learned is that when you rest raw fish on a human body, it tends to get warm. Not "I'm afraid to eat this" warm, but "I can definitely tell this just came off of an individual who has thoughts, dreams and feelings" warm. Judging by the folks who greedily brought the chopsticks to their mouths, that is just the right temperature for this crowd.
The rolls themselves were perfectly fine - we've had way, way worse, but we've also had better. If you do find yourself hanging out here on a random night and want to have dinner, ordering a few bites from the menu won't do you wrong (note that à la carte options are much less expensive than the à la body fare). Once her torso was picked clean, we got to chatting with Cassandra, who vouches for the sushi at the restaurant. "I've had the food here before and it's really good," she said, noting that she likes to stay away from the California rolls. "That's with the imitation fish, it's so unhealthy for you." We also learned that it was her first time acting as a sushi platter. Her reflection about the experience? "It does tickle."
The diners in the room also became reflective. One patron expressed enthusiasm for the enterprise, noting, "The experience makes you question the value of other unlimited sushi and sake deals around town." Well, those are usually around $30 to $40, but if this is up your alley, there's no arguing that you're getting a whole lot more for your money.
Cheetahs Gentleman's Club is located at 252 West 43rd Street. Sushi is available until 4 AM daily.