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The best sushi ?

We are a yong norwegian couple, deeply in love with NYC. We travel a lot, and when for pleasure, not business, we pick our destination for it's food and wine. (So France, Italy and NYC is on top of our list.)
We love sushi (and our knowledge of good fish and good food in general is high), so where do we go for the best value sushi?
We haven't been to many Manhattan sushi/japanese restaurants yet. Last year we went to Sushi of Gari, which was good, but perhaps a little to much sauces and stuff for our personal (scandinavian?) taste. We are not thinking of Masa or other extremely expensive omakase menues, our budget for that day won't allow it.. The more restaurant-critics I read, the more confused I get.. (Been reading about: Blue Ribbon Sushi, Geisha, Hedeh, Jewel Bako, Kuruma Zushi, Sushiden, Sushi-Ann, Sushi Zen, Sushi Yasuda..)
Please, can anyone help us out!

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    1. re: LFeinberg

      Second that! Yasuda serves more traditional type of sushi (no weird sauce, etc.) which appears to be what you like. Kuruma Zushi is also another great choice for traditional sushi.

    2. +1 on Yasuda as far as fantastic traditional sushi, but it will cost you an arm and a leg.
      For a more affordable (but still not cheap) alternative try Shimizu - but only omakase at the bar. Incidentally that goes for any sushi IMO.
      Enjoy your trip!

      1. If you are not into sauces and crazy renditions of various types of "typical" sushi dishes, I would recommend Sushi Yasuda. They only serve the most fresh and delicious fish and they keep it pure (they don't even have "spicy" sushi dishes)! For a little more adventureous sushi, try Sushi Seki. Good luck!

        1. Ushi Wakamaru (at the counter and request to sit in front of the chef Hideo-san when you make the reservation)...it's traditional sushi w/ no "creative sauces" (i dislike Gari)...many specialties flown in from Japan...i usually get a sashimi-sushi only omakase (request this as well, as some people have been served cooked dishes w/ their omakase that they didn't want/expect)...

          you probably love Yasuda too, but it costs a good bit more than Ushi Wakamaru, and Yasuda is not a great place for sasimi...

          sidenote: i spent a couple months in Norway and loved it..reindeer steaks w/ berries and smoked salmon w/ mustard sauce at Theatrekafeen...and the biggest surprise was the fine Chinese food at Dinner...and huge shrimp sandwiches at Cafe Olsen...great country, great people...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            What do you pay for the omakase at Ushi W?

            I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Norway! You can eat some very good food here if you know where to go! Though, it can be very expencive... Did you go to the west-coast?

            1. re: gladlaks

              i've paid different amounts depending on how much i ate (and drank)...i'd say you can have an excellent meal there for about 80/person...but i've paid as little 60 and as much as 130/person one time when we had encores of several pieces we particularly enjoyed...i particularly love their raw baby shrimp sushi, their madae (Japanese red snapper) w/ salt, and, when it's in season, the hamo (pike eel)...

              re: Norway, i never made it to the west coast, just Oslo and central Norway (Ryukan i think)...

          2. Sushi Yasuda is what you're looking for. Omakase, at a little over a hundred dollars, is not expensive by today's Manhattan standards, but if it's pricy for you, check out their lunch prices - a bargain.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Wilfrid

              I can't seem to find a meny on the internet that shows their lunch-prices.. Can you give me a hint? The lunch-prices at Kuruma Zushi looked good.

            2. Love Blue Ribbon Sushi. Very fresh and cool place.

              But, my all-time fave is Tomoe Sushi. No atmosphere and tiny place with long wait, but the sushi is so big and fresh and good. And, reasonable price too.

              Sushi Seki is also very solid.

              5 Replies
              1. re: nyccookie

                I will have to disagree respectfully. Agree that Tomoe Sushi is big and therefore appear to be cheap, but in terms of fish quality and freshness, it is at least two level below Yasuda or Kuruma Zushi. I think Ushi Wakamaru suggested by Simon is a much better choice if you are looking for fresh sushi that is slightly cheaper than Yasuda. That said, I think Yasuda is worth every penny.

                1. re: kobetobiko

                  Sushi Yasuda!

                  Seki is also one of my favorites but is not all traditional style.

                  1. re: kobetobiko

                    I could not agree more. Tomoe Sushi is the most overrated place I have ever been to.

                  2. re: nyccookie

                    If Gari wasn't really your thing, I wouldn't go to Sushi Seki. I've not been impressed w/ Tomoe and don't think it's worth the wait or the cheaper price. If I were you, I'd go to Yasuda - definitely get some oysters - they are wonderful.

                    1. re: nyccookie

                      tomoe is hands down the freshest and best for the price. its a little hole in the wall but soo so good

                    2. Yasuda, UshiWakamaru or Shimizu.

                      Shimizu is my current favourite as I am beginning to tire of Yasuda san's smugness and the slight curtness I find when generally dealing with the staff there.

                      Shimizu san on the other hand is one of the most humble chefs you will find anywhere - helps that he also serves delicious fish in very stylish surroundings at a very sensible price point.

                      Rule out Seki if Gari style isn't what you're looking for.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: oonth

                        Might as well pile on the Yasuda bandwagon myself. It is the best I have ever had. I will add you should reserve seats at the bar by Yasuda himself though. Otherwise, it might not be as good.

                      2. Sushi Yasuda has unbelievable fish and a dining room that is quite Scandinavian-minimalistic in its styling. I'd strongly recommend sitting at the sushi bar, not at a table. The sushi is simple and just about perfect.

                        Ushiwakamaru is awesome as well, and they do cooked things just as well as raw. The room is very simple. I had the omakase ($100) there last month, sitting at the sushi bar in front of Hideo-san and his next-door assistant (some dishes were prepared by each itamae) and it was bloody incredible. One of my favorite meals of the last year.

                        1. newbie but a goodie - 15 EAST by union square. x-jewel bako chef seems to have the best fishes in the city... his tuna, anago and seasonal specialties are not to be missed.

                          1. I have not much new to add.

                            Yasuda is the best. All the fish I've been served there is incredible demonstration of flavor and texture. There is a tremendous varitey of offerings. The rice is like none other. That said, on my most recent visit I was treated very poorly by Yasuda and his staff and even with good treatment, it is expensive.

                            For half the price Ushi Wakamara is a great sushi bar in its own right. If price were no object, Yasuda is the clear choice for sushi, but I've had many amazing meals at Ushi. The cooked dishes are terrific as well. It's a small, low key place. The service there can also be a little discombobulated, but they always mean well.

                            This is a hard thing to say without sounding disrespectful of others' opinions, but it is hard to believe that those who advocate places like Tomoe have an appreciation for the nuanced flavors of truly fine sushi. In my experience, people who think Tomoe is a top end place are really most interested in soy and wasabi; something quite different from what you get at serious sushi bar. Tomoe is a fine place to experience that given the generous servings of fresh fish. I don't mean to say that one preference is better than another, but it is really not appropriate to compare Tomoe to Ushi Wakamaru.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: zEli173

                              I am a very experienced sushi devotee who also sometimes finds too many sauces a bit too much. Yet, I do like the elegant and subtle use of herbs, salts, and spices and have discovered that the most talented sushi chefs are brilliant at knowing what herbs and spices go with what type of fish. I had the honor today of meeting one of these talented chefs and enjoying an amazing seven course tasting of his where he served me radically different types of fish (most flown in from Japan), each with its unique spice and herb preparation. You should all try thhis place, 15 EAST, as soon as you can and sit at the sushi bar. One example: he braises his octopus until it is incredibly soft and aromatic and then serves it as three small pieces of sashimi. I have never tasted anything like it.

                              1. re: NYC visitor

                                I liked 15 East very much, but prices are comparable with Yasuda - so if you can only do one of them, safest to do the latter.

                                1. re: Wilfrid

                                  can anyone speak to tomoe sushi? it usually makes assorted sushi lists.... i have never been, but have waited on line.by the time we got to the front "we have run out of fish" no kidding.i want to go back i think..

                                  1. re: jsmitty

                                    We went once about two years ago - just to check it out since it's so highly rated recommended - and we just didn't get it. The pieces of fish were huge, which I don't find especially appealing, and it just didn't seem that wonderful to us, even given the price. I'd rather pay to go to Gari, Yasuda or Blue Ribbon and go less often. Or hit Ichiro - our local "cheap sushi".

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      hmm. ok. i do like all of the places you mentioned, especially gari

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I used to love Tomoe a few years ago, but I heard a rumor that they had an ownership change ~2 years ago and the reviews at the same time went downhill fast. It would explain a lot if it were true.

                                2. re: zEli173

                                  Also, one has to wonder how recently someone suggesting it has been to Tomoe. It has gone seriously downhill in the last year or so. I, too, used to tell everyone it was THE place, but, given the changes, I would say it's more of an economy stop, where the maguro may be sinewy, the hamachi tough, no ponzu offered with halibut or engawa, but the price is right!

                                3. i also vote for Yasuda, but am intrigued by some of the replies below for Ushi Wakamaru and 15 East.

                                  i used to be such a regular at Yasuda that they would recognize my voice on the phone and greet me by name.

                                  i have actually never liked sitting with Yasuda there, he is too smug for me. my favorite one to sit with left a few years ago, a <shock> white boy named Max. he taught me lots about the fish and brought my sushi-experience to a much higher level.

                                  it is possible to eat at Yasuda for little money at a good value. their lunch menu is basically the same as dinner, but on their menu in general, the $21 sushi/sashimi combination is a good value. it comes with 3 sashimi (chef's choice, generally a tuna, a spanish mackeral, and a white fish like tile), 4 pieces of sushi (your choice, from a limited list with still some good choices), and 1 roll (again, your choice from a limited list). this comes with a choice of soup (great miso or clear fish broth, which is delicately floral) or a tasty green salad with good dressing and little bits of dried fish.

                                  i often get this, and then supplement with some of my favorite pieces of sushi. i did this when i had a much larger appetite, and would spend $70+ on myself. i think now i would probably skip the combo (even though it is good) and only focus on my favorite pieces.

                                  if you are a fan of eel, i know of no other place in NYC where you can get 5 styles of eel (standard unagi), then wild-caught freshwater eel with dark-sweet sauce (basically fresh, wild-caught unagi), or with lemon and sea-salt (amazingly good and naturally sweet), or wild-caught sea eel (anago) with either the sweet-dark sauce or with the sea salt and lemon.

                                  after having the eel with sea-salt and lemon, classic unagi was so ... pedestrian.

                                  i also love the oyster, and i love the uni. and they have a fresher ikura which isn't as cloyingly soaked in soy as usual.

                                  one thing to know about them is that unless you request them NOT to, they will put soy sauce on your fish (brushed on usually) as a prescriptive effort so you don't mess it up with an inappropriate amount of soy. i ask them to skip this, because i prefer lemon and sea-salt on almost all fish (tuna is the only exception).

                                  on the daily list they will mark the most-recommended, best quality fresh fish.

                                  you can set your own price for an "omakase" -- if you just tell your chef to bring your their recommendations for whatever amount you identify. i've never done this, because i simply have too many favorites that i must have.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: charlie_b

                                    There seems to be, sadly, a consensus forming here.
                                    I'm given to believe, perhaps naively, that "traditionaly" the true measure of a sushi-ya is it's anago, kohada and tamago.
                                    How has the kohada at Yasuda compared with other sushi-yas you've visited? Where/when did you go?

                                    1. re: charlie_b

                                      Thank you for a very informative post!

                                    2. Nobody has mentioned Kanoyama on 11th street and 2nd avenue. Nobu the sushi chef (not to be confused with the ubiquitous chain) does an abolutely astounding omakase if you sit at the sushi bar. Like some other places mentioned here, he has special cuts flown in regularly from Japan. Also, as another susi lover mentioned they appreciated, his use of herbs, salts, and spices accompanying each course amplifies the experience tremendously.

                                      I have said this before on other strings and I will say it again now. There tends to be a really astounding level of "group think" on this board. Everyone likes the same 5 restaurants in each food genre. It is a bit frustrating as I thought this is supposed to be a forum for people trying and recommending new things.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Gordognyc

                                        Hi gordognyc,

                                        I am a big fan of Kanoyama, and in fact I will pick it over Ushi Wakamaru. However, IMO Yasuda and Kurama Zushi are slightly better in quality (like A+ vs Kanoyama's A) , and the variety of sashimi and sushi is better. That said, I found Kanoyama to be bargain and absolutely terrific for more frequent visits, as I am not really to shell out $150 everytime I go for an omakase (and I have my craving for sushi at least 2 or 3 times a week...)

                                        Since the OP are asking about BEST sushi, I still think that Yasuda is the best, but Kanoyama is very close. I don't think it is as much as a "group think", but it is more likely that there are indeed more people think that Yasuda is the best rather than Kanoyama.

                                        1. re: kobetobiko


                                          Thanks for the response. I wasn't really trying to debate the merits of Yasuda vs. Kanoyama vs. Ushi W etc. Its just that over the past several months I feel like I am in the movie "Groundhog Day" when I read posts on this site. People mention the same restaurants over and over and over again. I can get that in Zagats. SERIOUSLY, I just want to hear someone mention a new place just every once in awhile!

                                          1. re: Gordognyc

                                            Hi gordognyc,

                                            I hear you. You know what? You probably know about this about but may be it is new to other hounds. If you go to Sunrise Mart on Friday (early afternoon preferred. They have it everyday but I heard Friday is the fresheset), they have platter of sashimi at $9.99. It usually comes with 4 - 5 different kinds of sashimi, 3 pieces each. The quality is surprising good! I mean @ 9.99 it surpasses the quality of a lot of the Japanese restaurants that serve those tiny little sashimi appetizer. The hamachi is especially fresh. (Hamachi is also available as whole un-cut "fillet" for sashimi). Of course there isn't any toro or uni in the platter, but I think it is a great bargain and great for a take home sashimi dinner.