We love Sushi Jun -- W 50th (longish)
The title says it all. We love Sushi Jun. My SO and I moved to Hell's Kitchen back in September, and have since been on the seemingly endless quest for good neighborhood sushi. Needless to say, our search is over. Sushi Jun is a tiny little place on W. 50th, between 8th and 9th, but really, right on the corner of 8th. We would never have even known that it was there, but after reading a review two weeks ago from a fellow hound, made our way there this afternoon for lunch. We arrived around 1:30, at which time there was only one other table eating.
We sat at the sushi bar and quickly ordered some cold sake. I had a bottle of special junmai -- which was recommended by the waitress, and was super yummy. It was creamy (tasting, not as in unfiltered), and a perfect pairing with what was to come. The older sushi chef, who we would later learn was Chef Jun, the proprietor (this is his 1st restaurant, although I got the impression that he has worked elsewhere in Manhattan), whipped us up an amuse bouche of sorts, it was a little pickled salad of seaweed, radish, scallop, pickles, and another fish that I couldn't identify. Then he made us each a green salad -- your classic japanese salad with a ginger dressing, but both the quality and flavor of the dressing and a purple peruvian potato on top set the salad apart. The younger sushi chef then suggested a number of different fish -- we had toro, spanish mackeral, yellowtail, regular tuna, uni, marinated mackeral (different, but real good -- reminiscent of whitefish), and monkfish pate. I swear that the sushi was the BEST I have had in a LONG time -- and I am definitely a sushi snob. The chef knows how to cut his fish, and they must have a great monger, because the fish was super fresh. The toro literally melted in my mouth.
I HIGHLY recommend this place. Super fresh ingredients, loving preparation, and relatively inexpensive.
For two, with four pieces of toro, an app, a bottle of sake, a kirin and about 12 other pieces of sushi, it came out to around 90. I know that is kinda steep for lunch, but we really went to town, and for what we had (quality and quantity) I think it was more than fair.
So glad u had a similar experience!
Thanks for the heads up about this place. Out of curiosity, have you tried Shimizu on 51st (my personal fav in the hood)? If so, how would you compare the quality?
I went to Sushi Jun last night with great expectations, but I was disappointed. I got the $35 omakase and the fish was subpar and tasteless. There was a non-Japanese young man preparing the sushi and an older man who did the side dishes and my dining partner's teriyaki beef. A sushi restaurant should only serve sushi in my opinion, and the miso soup was served with a ramen spoon, which never happens in Japan. The dessert of mochi ice cream was taken out of boxes of the stuff that is sold in Trader Joe's, the green tea flavour of which is artificial and was unpalatable. On the other hand, I liked the intimate atmosphere of the place but the food would have to be much better to warrant another visit. Maybe the ownership/chef has changed recently but I did not find it a chowhound-worthy establishment. Has anyone else been recently?
We had omakase at Sushi Jun last Wed evening. They offer three levels of omakase: $65, $50, and $35, and we opted for the $50 level but requested sushi only. I'm not sure this is an official option as, based on the regular menu, I assume their omakase is typically a mix of dishes including a sushi course, but they accommodated us without a problem. The chef proceeded to individually serve us 13 pieces of sushi consisting of:
1. horse mackerel
2. giant clam
3. scallop w/ flying fish roe
4. medium fatty toro
6. salmon roe and sea urchin
7. monkfish liver
8. squid and sea urchin w/ quail egg
9. fresh oyster
10. eel avocado hand roll
11. fluke w/ shiso leaf
12. salmon, ikura w/ quail egg
Every piece was excellent; fresh and generously sized, with warm rice that almost melted in our mouths. The seaweed was crisp on pieces that had it. We went to Shimizu for Valentine's Day and although Shimizu trumps Sushi Jun on fish variety, the quality and freshness are on par, and Sushi Jun is absolutely a better value. Over five dinners here since December, we've sampled a variety of dishes and every one has been very good to excellent. The staff is always polite and efficient, and the only person I've ever seen behind the bar preparing sushi is an older gentlemen and he's Japanese.
re: Butter Buddha
I went to sushi Jun last Friday after reading the rave review on NYCNosh. I really liked it a lot. I agree the sushi quality is sublime. Everything there is a step better than regular sushi spots though I do wish the menu was larger and more varied. I had the sushi deluxe and I'd love to return again for the omakase, though the claustrophobic nature of the place might deter me.