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Mar 5, 2006 03:05 PM

Sushi Sennin review (long)

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Having read some recent positive reviews of the newly relocated Sushi Sennin (33rd btw Park & Mad), we decided to try it out last night.

First, I must say - as one poster noted earlier this week - the interior is quite nice (and much much nicer than the location on 34th street - which I found to be cold and too bright). Lots of warm woods on the floors, walls and the long sushi bar. They have a couple of tatami-like rooms up front when you enter (they are open and on raised platforms with sunken tables and pillows - so not sure what the name would be). Beyond that the main dining area is quite large, with very high ceilings, cozy looking booths along the left wall, I'd say 15 - 20 tables in the middle of the room, and the enormous sushi bar along the entire right wall.

There were only a few tables and booths occupied when we arrived around 9pm. We opted to sit at the bar (the lone patrons there) in front of the 3 sushi chefs.

We started with a nice seaweed salad with carrots and sprouts and then moved onto an Omakase of sushi, sashimi and rolls. They inquired if we wanted to set a dollar limit, but we declined - opting to order until we were sated.

I'll try to remember all that we had as best I can in order. Overall, iIt was all excellent quality fish:

We started with 2 Kumamoto oysters each - these were very nice & delicate and presented beautifully. Each was topped with what I believe was some shaved radish and a light brown sauce.

Then we were served was what they called salmon toro - lightly seared, meltingly fatty salmon set atop a sushi sized piece of rice. After the discussion earlier this week on too-large pieces of sushi I had to giggle when presented with this dish. While the salmon was delicious, the piece served was the size of a playing card set atop a small mound of rice. I tried to eat this as delicately as possible.

Next were 6 delicate rounds of octopus - each set atop a slice of lemon and topped with a dot of hot sauce in the center. All were set on a plate with shaved cucumbers around. The presentation was lovely - like a garden of flowers - and the tako was even lovelier. No bite, or crunch, very delicate and soft with an almost ika-like quality. Very nice.

Following that was a selection of sashimi - white salmon (almost too too fatty and unctuous, but very nice), regular salmon, and two white fish, which I cannot remember. Quality was excellent for all.

Next up was a toro version of the seared salmon dish we had earlier - this time we spoke up and asked how we were supposed to eat it since it was so large. The chef laughed - then took the pieces and proceeded to cut them in half. Still too big! But better.

Then we were presented with two pieces each of toro (very good) and 2 uni sushi. The uni was excellent, very delicate ocean-like flavor. I also was impressed with the seaweed, which was nice and crisp and toasty.

After that was the roll for the evening - a spicy tuna hand roll. I was a bit disappointed, having never been a fan of hand rolls, but this was delicious. In the roll with the spicy tuna was a crunchy topping of toasted panko - a perfect foil to the creamy tuna. Again, the perfectly crispy seaweed was also a highlight in this.

As a finale, we requested tomago sushi - I feel like it's a nice balance between sushi and dessert. This rendition was almost flan-like. It was dessert. The only issue I had with it was that the piece served was like two of our earlier courses, HUGE. Bigger than huge - this was a 8 inch long by 1 inch wide piece of tomago placed atop a tiny mound of rice. I ate in from each side (with my chopsticks - there was no picking this sucker up) till I had a normal human sized piece of sushi.

Whew! That was a lot of food. Overall, the sushi quality was excellent. In the future, I might opt to order ala carte, as I felt the Omakase was a bit heavily weighted with toro (read: expensive). I like toro as much as anyone, but not in nearly half the courses. Also, I was not a fan of the super huge cuts of fish - they were ridiculous and hard to manage.

Service was almost too attentive, probably due the to the fact that the restaurant was nearly empty. Our waitress was a sweetheart - but I don't think she left us alone - pouring sake, making conversation about the meal, etc - for more than 2 minutes during the evening. While we were finishing up (aside from one other couple we were the last in the place) I glanced to my right and noticed 5 waiters not 10 feet away all standing watching us with their arms crossed. I'm hoping business picks up for them, from the looks of it they've got plenty of staff to handle any influx.

Total bill with 2 beers and 2 bottles of sake (we took most of the 2nd home with us) was $330, which is on par with an Omakase for 2 at Yasuda. Not cheap at all, but I think that giving them free reign did us in a bit. As I noted above, you could come in much better ordering ala carte.

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  1. Great review. I am one of the favoring posters of past for Sushi Senin at their new (and former) location. During the week, the place is packed starting about 8pm. Good word is getting around! For a really good deal, try the sashimi deluxe (about $36)and add a few pieces that aren't included. I love the booths, tucked into the wall. If I have room, I also finish a meal with tomago. The staff is very eager to please so with few in the restaurant when you were there, you can imagine they were itching to help out. I enjoy the attentive service, especially Billy.

    1. Thanks for your very well written review. Sushi Sennin is my favorite sushi restaurant, and I'm so glad they reopened in the Murray Hill area. Last week I dined there. When I arrived at 6:30, I was the first person in the restaurant, but by the time I left at 9:00, it seemed all the tables were taken, but the sushi bar (which I'll try soon) was pretty empty. The food is always top quality, and it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

      1. just checking: that was $330 for two people?

        4 Replies
          1. re: potluck

            yikes...i liked your description of the atmosphere (i love booths), but for *just* $250 (give or take) two people can sit at the sushi bar at Jewel Bako (my own fav in NY) and have exquisite red and white wines paired w/ each course...

            but Sennin sounded yummy, so i'll give it a shot, maybe ordering ala carte...

            1. re: Simon

              fyi-ordering ala carte at SS drives up the price. Try one of the assortments and add a roll and a few pieces of sashimi or sushi.

              1. re: eve

                Based on this thread, I ordered delivery from Sushi Sennin today. I have never ordered sashimi delivery for the obvious reasons, but I was craving and couldn't bear to step outside. There were 2 set sashimi lunches, 'matsu' and regular. I ordered matsu ($25) but yielded when the man on the phone recommended regular ($28). He then said 'is spicy ok?'. I clarified that I wanted the sashimi and he said 'yes, maybe you can't eat spicy?' I said I could eat spicy fine but spicy sashimi? Yes, he said, we put different spicy sauces on it. I said I preferred Edo style and no maguro. Then right before I hung up I thought better of it (recalling that they were perhaps more of an experimental place) and said I would have the order as they ordinarily prepared it, but again, no maguro.

                When I received the order I was pleased to find they had included a bag of ice, but about a third of the order was maguro. When I phoned to complain, the man said there was no mackeral. Maguro, I said, maguro-- I am ok with chu-toro or o-toro but I don't eat maguro. No substitutes! he replied. Toro is $10, you want toro? You have to order toro. No, I said, I didn't want toro per se, I just didn't want maguro and you agreed that you would not send maguro--tuna. Tuna, you don't want tuna? You should say you don't want tuna. But I didn't not want tuna, I just didn't want maguro. Toro is $10! You can't substitute tuna!

                At some point it dawned on me that the man didn't have any idea what maguro was and I asked if he were Japanese. Yes, he said, I am Japanese. I said I had thought perhaps he was Chinese (clearly he was Chinese) because he didn't seem to understand what maguro was (of course, this was deduction by synecdoche which is dubious reasoning but still). He got very angry at this and shouted 'you shouldn't ask people where they are from!'

                In the end I requested and received a refund, and the man insisted on sending his poor delivery boy back in the heat to retrieve the order, which struck me as rather cutting off his nose (or perhaps the delivery boy's nose) to spite his face.

                I would be apoplectic if I had gone there and spent anything like the kind of money the original poster laid down.