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sushi places for a 1st date...

  • k
  • kw151 Feb 5, 2007 01:36 PM
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I need a place for a first date...Is there a sushi place that's a little hip, places good music, has some action (generally busy with good looking people), and has really good sushi? Jewel Bako?

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  1. Good, not really good, Sushi Samba on 7th Ave S.

    Really good sushi, although I like their cooked stuff better, Nobu 57.

    1. Nobu 57 is a great rec. I like Jewel Bako as well (but expensive!).

      I love Tomoe Sushi the best, but that's NOT a date place.

      Maybe Ono or Megu or Sasabune would be good?

      1. I love Sushi of Gari on the UES. Make sure to call ahead for reservations since it's a tiny place and get the omikase to impress. Expect around $80/pp if you don't chow down too much and more if you do. Happy eating!

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodiesusie

          Gari can easily run much more than that, and the atmosphere is prob not what the OP wants (sort of bland and cramped)...personally, i despised my one dinner there (rude service, and i'm not into the "creative" sauces w/ mayonnaise, etc), but that's more a matter of sushi-style preference...

        2. The best Sushi we've had is Sushi Seki. At the Sushi Bar. Definitely great food and friendly guys. Not all hip music-wise.

          Sushi Samba is definitely loud, hip, fun. BUT, Sushi's just ok. But probably a good 1st date place. Been to both and they're pretty much the same to me,

          Sushi Gari is good too, but like Seki more.

          Good luck on date!

          1. Ise on 57 Pine St. Great sushi and kitchen food. The bartender and most of the waitress' are babes. The music is off the radio however.

            1. I agree with the Sushi Samba suggestion.

              I would also recommend Momoya on 7th Ave and 21st St. Good ambience and the sushi, along with the other dishes on the menu, is creatively presented and very fresh.

              1. sushi seki or jewel bako...amazing sushi and good atmosphere

                1. All these places may be fine for sushi but the post also mentioned that this is a "first date". My first date rule is to never go to a loud restaurant for dinner. If things go well you can hit another 100 decibel joint later. I just hate yelling over loud music in an attempt to get to know someone. Sushi - yes Noise - no

                  1. First date places - Nobu 57 (try signature dishes and enjoy sushi at the end. The decor is extremely sexy, as along with their cocktails. Perfect for 1st date)

                    if you both are sushi fanatics with no budget concern you can try Bar Masa where u can order ala carte as opposed to a $400 per person Omakase in Masa.

                    Sushi seki and jewel bako are also decent options, but craftsmanship is still left to be desied on the sushi.

                    If you are looking for traditional japanese craftsmanship go to Sushi Yasuda and you wont go back to any other place for sushi. Although i no longer go there due to a strong aversion against chef Yasuda. His pride has gotten the best of him, infact to the point where he no longer knows how to treat him _CUSTOMERS_.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: PoorMansToro

                      Is there a story waiting to be shared here?

                      1. re: ultbil

                        seriously, what is PoorMansToro hinting at?

                        1. re: eatfood

                          i was at yasuda last thursday at the sushi counter in front of yasuda san and i have to say that the mix sushi/sashimi omakase was ethereal (the uni was transcendental if I may be so bold as to use this adjective!!) and matched the quality of sushi I ate at Kyubei, Tsukiji and other places in Tokyo/Japan when I was there last month.

                          but it does have to be said that yasuda san exudes a great deal of smugness which probably rubs some people the wrong way. personally i quite like the ongoing "education" i get from sushi chefs globally about sushi customs, traditions and etiquette but maybe that's the reserved, curious Brit in me coming out; at the same time after 1 hour at the yasuda counter, i was very ready to leave behind the non-stop stream of anecdotes and general chatter, it eventually loses it charm I find.

                          I can imagine many a customer feeling patronised and wanting to assert their "Customer Knows Best" rights to eat their food in the manner that pleases them.

                    2. I would go to decibal, the underground sake bar on 8th street first for a few drinks and then go to hasake down the block for some good sushi. If your date is more into "the scene then the food" I would recommend cancel the date go to nobu alone and then order in a nice asian pro.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Matzaball

                        decibel's on e. 9th street between stuyvesant st and 2nd ave. i like the place but you need to get there earlier in the evening to avoid long waits. also, it's incredibly loud in there, so you won't be able to hear your date. or see her, for that matter, as it's pitch black.

                        hasaki's a nice "mid-range" sushi option (i.e. won't break the bank but has good quality fish).

                      2. there's a new place called 15 east by union square. it seems like a different sort of japanese place. the sushi is for real good - the chef is from jewel bako. but the atmosphere is upscale casual, not just loud and busy like sushi samba.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: baconstrip

                          15 East has the same owners as Tocqueville. Tocqueville moved to larger quarters on that block last year, and 15 East is in the original location, which has been totally refurbished.

                          1. re: baconstrip

                            I would skip 15 East, went there with visiting friends in early Jan and it was ok food but nothing more and poor value for money. Upscale but not romantic in terms of setting and ambience. Didn't know that it was the same owners as Tocqueville but I went there last week and was underwhelmed by the food there although I liked the space quite a lot.

                            Ushiwakamaru and Yasuda are best for high grade sushi at prices which, whilst not giveaway, are sustainable (contrast with Kuruma for example where I once spent $150 in 30 mins at lunchtime and wasn't blown away) but no romance to be had in either place.

                            So for the combination of romance and good food (and sensible pricing) I would say Ebisu. Le Miu, I would have suggested some months back but I think that the food standards have dipped and the staff attitude levels gone up and that's not a healthy dynamic.

                            I also like the sushi counters in Lan in EV and Lure in SoHo too but maybe they are both too sceney to be described as romantic.

                            1. re: oonth

                              When you went to 15 East, did you stick strictly to the sushi? Or did you try chef/owner Marco Moreira's Japanese-inspired cuisine?

                              1. re: RGR

                                3 of us had sushi platters and the 4th person had a non-sushi entree. Can't remember the specifics I'm afraid but it was fillet of cod in some lightish sauce. The guy who ate it wasn't very impressed and it didn't look very appetising and nor did the limited [maybe 4-5 choices] list of non-sushi entrees sound that appetising when read out. Hardly conclusive I know but I think that I will take my $ elsewhere especially considering that so many higher end places now regularly use Japanese ingredients in their cooking (yuzu, miso, maitake/shimeji etc mushrooms to name a few) or offer Japanese inspired dishes on their menus (hamachi/tuna/snapper sashimi or tartare; black cod preparations; wagyu beef dishes etc).

                                As it happens, I was taken out to dinner at Tocqueville last week (I suggested 11 Madison but didn't get my choice, more's the pity) and felt the same way about the food as I did at 15 East - OK but nothing special and poor value for money (even though I wasn't paying). Service at Tocqueville I thought was amateurish and overbearing. Nice aesthetics in both places for sure but that alone can't make up for the mediocrity of the food.

                                1. re: oonth

                                  We had a number of excellent meals at Tocqueville -- mostly lunch -- prior to the move, but have not been since. The main reason I've hesitated is that I've read other reports like yours indicating the food is not as good as it used to be. Your view of the service does, however, surprise me since we always found it to be just right, i.e., cordial and professional, certainly never overbearing.

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Yes I remember having a very nice lunch one time at the old site sat at the bar - I am a huge fan of sea urchin so had sampled the spaghetti with sea urchin dish washed down with a nice glass of white and it was pretty delicious. Service was very polished, professional and charming that day and the maitre d' had given me his business card after I got chatting with him.

                                    Second time around the food certainly didn't match up to the previous lunchtime occasion - I had also read the negative reports and it wouldn't have been my pick but the choice of restaurant was out of my hands. To qualify my comments re service, it was most definitely cordial; perhaps amateurish is too harsh a word, clumsy would be more appropriate with waitstaff getting in each other's way, not seeming sure about specials and dish descriptions and generally not displaying the slickness and quiet efficiency that I've come to expect of the better restaurants. And most definitely overbearing - 5 different people presented themselves in one guise or another at our table in the first 10 minutes of our being there and it didn't get much better after that. All that said, I'm a pretty relaxed and informal guy and if the food was even remotely stellar, I would be back in a flash regardless of my view of the service!!

                                    1. re: oonth

                                      I think your experience points up the possible pitfalls of moving from a smaller space into a larger one. In the old space, not only was food excellent, but the staff seemed to operate like the proverbial well-oiled machine. Once they moved, I presume they needed a bigger staff and, perhaps, they don't mesh as well as the smaller one.

                                      As regards the cuisine, why, in the opinion of some like yourself, it has declined is truly a puzzlement (though, to be fair, there are those who think it's remains excellent). Could be Chef Moreira is trying to make it more creative, and it just isn't working for some people.

                          2. While not a new place, I think Bond Street fits the bill pretty well, and won't break the bank like Masa or Nobu would.

                            1. I have to agree with the Sushi Samba recommendations. It's lively and fun and the sushi is good - not great, but good. I think Bond Street is a pretty good suggestion, too!

                              1. Sushi Samba way loud and so so. Japonica in GW or Bond St.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: citified

                                  For a first date, I have to back up the people arguing for Sushi Samba. It's a bit loud, and the sushi's no better than, say, Haru, but it's fun - distracting enough in case things aren't going particularly well, festive enough in case they are - and the drinks are great. Basically, unless the other party to the date is also a chower, it's a better option than one of any number of places with phenomenal sushi but oppressive quiet, formality, or even just average atmosphere. Besides, I don't know a lot of women that wouldn't be horrified to have their date buy them $400 worth of sushi on a first date.

                                2. Though not a sushi place in the strict sense, I love Sobaya on 9th. A great 1st date place for sushi - definitely Blue Ribbon. Soft lighting, quiet, green tea creme brulee. You can't go wrong.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Mouthfull

                                    blue ribbon sushi's definitely a good first date option, but the only thing is that you can't rsvp, at least not for a party of 2. unless you show up before 6-6:30 you'll be waiting for a long time.

                                  2. agree that even yasuda has gotten a taste of sushi arrogance

                                    1. Hedeh on Great Jones is cool, Ebisu on East 9th more romantic or Le Miu on Avenue A or Honmura An on Mercer for soba and sushi, also Sachiko's on Clinton

                                      1. If you live in the general neighborhood, I like Poke on the UES. Not quite as trendy as some of the others, but good sushi in a nice atmosphere - most of the folks there are couples. As someone who recently got engaged after years of first dates, I can say for sure that places like Nobu are not appropriate for a first date - too glitzy, and way too much money. Wait until you know her a bit better before spending that kind of money - don't be cheap, but by choosing sushi, you've probably already accomplished that. Another good spot that isn't only sushi but has some sushi and other good items, and a nice atmosphere is Citrus. Again, only if you are already uptown.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: pcwd

                                          I wouldn't recommend Poke for a date (or for a meal, for that matter). I think the sushi is mediocre at best and as I recall (it's been over a year) the restaurant reminded me of being in a broom closet or basement utility rooms.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            It has definitely gotten mixed reviews - I personally like it, as do many others, but others definitely do share your opinion. However, please note that Poke has moved down the street to a bigger, nicer location.

                                            1. re: pcwd

                                              Oh - that is good to know - maybe I should give them another chance!

                                        2. id go with le miu or ebisu in the east village...for upscale, jewel bako. i never found yasuda to seki to be conducive to dating places.

                                          1. Bond Street, Nobu, and (though the sushi is not great, the restaurant is way pretty), Koi at the Bryant Park Hotel.

                                            Good luck!

                                            1. I haven't been as fortunate as everybody else to go to all those restaurants mentioned above but I've been to Bar Masa and Bond St. in NYC (and Nobu, but the one here in Miami, which by the way, is fabulous. Oh, and also the Miami branch of Sushi Samba Dromo, which is definitely very fun and lively with a decent menu. It's probably similar in NYC?). Bar Masa itself is quaint but very small and the sparse decor leaves much to be desired. A little quiet on the scene as well. Food however is delicious.

                                              Bond St. however, is truly gorgeous in an understated way. Downstairs for before or after dinner drinks is hip and loungy. But upstairs dining is the place to be...the setting is cozy but doesn't feel too cramped. The ambiance is chic and beautiful...accentuated with the perfect lighting and warm decor, it will make any date romantic. In terms of the food, I would say the sushi itself is good but not excellent. If you only want sushi, then the above options would probably fare better. For Bond St., I would go for the creative hot and cold appetizers which I find to be better executed. Personally, small bites of various dishes makes the first date fun because it leaves the door open for exploration and new experiences, which I believe sets the proper tone for the perfect first date right? :o)

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: santorinii

                                                Perhaps it has improved, but I ate at Bar Masa several times during its first year in operation and I was underwhelmed. I was surprised by this, since I ate many times at Masa Takayama's Ginza Sushi-Ko in Los Angeles (every time I went there, I thought it was worth every penny), and was really excited when I heard he was opening a casual bar-restaurant in New York.

                                                But I remember spending something like $80 for lunch at Bar Masa on several occasions and thinking it was just average (I kept going back because I kept hoping that the Masa magic would kick in - not that I expected the same level of sushi at Bar Masa as at the "real" restaurant, but I was still expecting something a little better than average). Maybe it's gotten better as of late.

                                                Only been to Bond St once - several years ago. I was actually shocked at how good the sushi was - since it was such a trendy place, I wasn't expecting much.

                                                1. re: omotosando

                                                  I agree. I ate once at Bar Masa last year and it was seriously underwhelming. There are so many better Japanese options in NYC that there's no chance that I will be going back.

                                              2. There is a new sushi place on Front and Peck Slip (downtown), SUTShei (or something like that). It's not a scene (you may actually be able to hear your date speak). The decor is contemporary, dining room has candlelight, service is consistently good (Victor is the owner). The grilled eggplant is delicious, like candy. It's not Nobu (pricey for a first date anyhow unless you are both bankers). If you like your date you can go for a walk on the promenade and look at the Brooklyn Bridge. Check out the reviews on menupages.com.