Should I leave my husband at home: Yasuda or Sasabune?
Here's the thing: I want to go for a blowout omakase sushi-fest with another couple. We're all 3 sushi-lovers, but my husband is not. He'll eat eel, shrimp, vegetable rolls, Japanese cooked foods, but not raw fish. And my main objective is to eat as much raw fish as possible.
We're considering Yasuda, and I'm also intrigued by Sasabune. If we sit at the counter at either place, can 3 of us do omakase while my husband orders from the menu...possibly something as horrifying as chicken teriyaki (I know, but he has other good qualities...)? Or will that be too awkward or downright prohibited? Let me know what you'd recommend. Should I leave him at home?
go to Ushi Wakamaru...the sushi is fabulous...and your hubby will not get any attitude for ordering whatever he likes and they will make him Cali rolls or eel or tempura, etc while the rest of you can enjoy exquisite madae, hirame, uni, shira ebi etc...i think that at Yasuda. 3 people eating superb and very expensive sushi while one looks on nibbling on a shrimp would make for a poor dining experience...and while i've only been to the LA Sasabune, that one is more or less omakase only and they don't serve any cooked food at all...
It is based on those glowing reviews that I went to Ushi with great expectations and was let down. Now, I don't mean Ushi is not a good place. It's just that, to my taste, it's not as good as everybody else say it is. I apologize for not remembering accurately many details of my experience there but I will try to describe it.
I went with no reservation made and got the only available seat, at the far end of the bar. I went for the $70 omakase which the waitress said is the same as the more expensive omakase but with smaller quantities of food. I wonder how much food they serve with the more expensive one as I have a healthy appetite and left stuffed.
The head chef was nice enough to come over from his end of the bar, present the sashimi platter and explain what each item was. Among other things, it included toro and some kind of tiny white shrimp. The chef wanted me to know the shrimp was of a special kind, and indeed, it tasted differently than anything else I ate.
Pretty much everything else was prepared by the younger chefs or in the kitchen. Every time I was served a bowl or a cup I expected it to be the soup and it usually ended up being cooked or boiled food in some kind of broth or soup-like liquid. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The whole snapper was actually very good and I got to try some unique food. But I would have preferred to have more raw fish.
Other things I liked were the salmon roe and the monkfish liver.
My least favorite course was the uni. They served it in a cup with wasabi and quite a few other ingredients and said it is “Kyoto style”. I am not a big fan of uni to begin with so this doesn’t mean a lot. I also thought the wasabi they used throughout the meal wasn’t that great.
I had a funny moment when the waitress brought the sushi platter. While describing each item, she realized the chef had forgotten to put a paste-like sauce on one of the items. She took it back to the chef and immediately returned with the problem fixed. The sushi platter included about 8 pieces of which I remember the toro, sweet shrimp and something that looked like tiny white octopus.
I finally got the soup towards the end of my meal with only one or two pieces of sushi left to be eaten. The soup was good and it had some kind of crustacean in it (which I think is not supposed to be eaten) but I fail to see the point in serving soup in such a late stage of the meal, more so since the meal included a few soup-like items.
Overall, the food was more interesting than tasty. I’m glad I went there but in the future I’ll go elsewhere when I’m in search of sublime sushi.
funny, i've been there dozens of times, and i've never eaten anything other than very traditional sushi and sashimi...i know they have cooked food (noticed out of my peripeheral vision while enjoying my sushi) but i've never bothered to order it because the raw fish has always been so good...
Sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as you'd hoped...but then again, if you wanted sashimi and sushi only, you prob should have ordered exactly that -- seems not quite fair to criticize them for serving you cooked food when that's what you ordered (although i can understand feeling disappointed if the proportion of cooked items was more than you realized it would be)...*any* good sushi restaurant will oblige you w/ a sashimi/sushi-only omakase even if there is a set one that includes cooked food...
maybe things are changing at ushiwak and they're introducing new omakase formats. i was last there end december so it's been a couple of months. i notice that they've now got a website which suggests that they might be trying to innovate a little: http://www.ushiwakamaruny.com/
all that said, you just need to make it clear to whichever chef that it's the sushi/sashimi omakase that you're after and you can also rule out any items you don't want e.g uni in the case of the OP. plus sushi bars are all about developing a rapport with the chef (see this post from Japan board about the true meaning of "omakase": http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356331) so that he knows what you like and you know what he prizes and specialises in. yasuda-san is said to suggest different items based upon, amongst other things, the shape of a customer's mouth, somewhat whimsical i know but speaks to the point i'm trying to make.
with the exception of Masa, i have checked out all the supposedly sublime NYC sushi places and i still haven't found better than yasuda and ushiwak with seki just a notch or two below.
Just to make it clear, I didn't ask for cooked food. I simply ordered the omakase from the sushi page of the menu. Even if it mentioned something about cooked dishes (and I don't remember that it did) I got the impression I will be served mainly traditional sushi/sashimi. I was very surprised to be served one bowl of cooked food after the other. Moreover, from what I was able to see, other people seating at the bar got exactly the same dishes.
I agree about interacting with the chef (and thanks for the illuminating link). However, I was seating in the far end of the bar (the only available seat) and was unable to do so. I didn’t mention I dislike uni because I thought it’s possibly starting to grow on me, and because of the rave reviews Ushi’s uni got on this board.
For the record, I am not trying to change everybody’s opinion about Ushi. I’m just reporting about my single rather disappointing experience there.
I think it's also the first negative report on Ushiwakamaru that I've read. I've been multiple times and have always had stellar omakases generally in the region of $100 per person all in with a good amount of sake. Everyone I have taken along has been similarly impressed. And there's never been anything within the omakase menu itself other than sushi or sashimi, not sure how a whole cooked fish would have made its way in there. For the hubby, there are ample cooked sushi and other cooked items and as mentioned there will be no attitude for ordering these.
Sasabune NYC I have been to twice, perfectly good place but not a premium Japanese dining experience like Ushiwak. And a fixed $70 menu with predominantly raw fish offerings so no good for the hubby.
i dont know if this is exactly what you are looking for, but last week me, my fiance and her dad went to sushi yasuda. we sat at a table. my fiance and i both had omakase and her dad had the cooked sea bass and some appetizers. it was great. i've sat at the sushi bar before at yasuda and this was the first time at a table but it was still a great experience. i've also ordered cooked food at the sushi bar there. i dont really think they care too much; i've always found the service to be friendly.
one word of warning: at the sushi bar, you only have your seat for 1.5 hours. you can linger forever at a table.
hi...a couple additional notes on Ushi Wakamaru:
-- request to sit in front of Hideo-san (head chef and owner), it makes a world of difference -- i've had lesser(but still good) meals w/ the younger chefs...also, buy Hideo-san a beer...
-- the only omakase i've had there have been all sashimi and sushi...i think perhaps the one w/ cooked fish mentioned above might have been some special (but i haven't opened their menu in ages: i just sit down and ask Hideo-san to fix me my usual: which is a sashimi-followed-by-sushi omakase, and he knows my personal preferences (no raw salmon nor ikura, but lots of madae and oily mackerels)...
Let me supply the answer you've already provided ... cut your husband loose for the evening.
Let him spend time with his friends, spend the night alone ...
Omakase at Ushi will typically run 2 to 3 hours.
"Set" omakase will include sashimi/one or more "cooked" courses/nigiri/dessert.
The cooked dishes here typically do *not* run along the line of "chicken teriyaki".
Do note, however, Hideo is *incredibly* genial and accomodating.
This is an exceptional place to "cut your teeth".
If you're seated at the bar, you "should" be ordering "sushi".
Is it "prohibited" to do otherwise?
I guess it depends on timing and the sushi-ya.
I'm truly curious as to what you've been served
The only "whole", "cooked" fish I've had here is ayu.
no question that it should be yasuda over sasabune. yasuda is an experience!
i've went to sasabune twice and got the same servings so it's more of a set menu. i had to wait about 20 min between servings last time at sasabune so it's off my list at least until for a while.
i was let down at ushi but sat in front of the younger chef. also, i expected more sashimi and sushi, i was also disappointed with the fish selection. most of the dishes were cooked and didn't taste that great. to be fair, the menu did say there were cooked dishes as part of the omakase.