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Blue Ribbon Sushi for Husband's Birthday?

It's hubby's birthday next Thursday. We'll be eating right after work. Is it worth it? I'm not looking to break the bank on dinner. Any other suggestions for sushi downtown? It doesn't need to be fancy or trendy, just good sushi. I'm not a sushi lover so I leave it up to the experts. Thanks.

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  1. Personally, my favorite sushi place in the city is Ono at the Hotel Gansvoort. The service is always friendly. The sake selection is great and the sushi is always delicious and fresh.

    I know some people rave about Blue Ribbon and Jewel Bako but I'll pick Ono any day.

    1. If your husband is a Serious Nigiri lover then I'd go elsewhere, like Sushi Yasuda or Soto or 15 East, etc.

      If you want something more casual, buzzy, and with a good variety of cooked dishes and rolls, etc. then Blue Ribbon Sushi is fine. But you can't make reservations, so be prepared to wait if it's prime dinner time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Sushi Yasuda is an amazing experience, especially when seated at the sushi bar - highly recommended above Blue Ribbon Sushi

      2. My husband would definitely love Blue Ribbon Sushi for his birthday. I don't think they take reservations for small groups, though (require 4 or 6, I think). They are more pricey, but I think that's the cost of keeping such a large variety so fresh. If your husband likes to try new, different things (jelly fish, live clam), then he'll be excited about Blue Ribbon. The standards (salmon, tuna) are great, too, but the more exotic choices and cozy atmosphere make is special in my mind. I would estimate that a sushi dinner for 2 there, with 2 glasses (actually, boxes) of sake would be under $120 total. More if you get a bottle to drink.

        1. It's not the best option.

          Imho, Blue Ribbon is *possibly* ok in these situations:
          -- in the mid-afternoon, when few other places are open yet Blue Ribbon is both open and mostly empty
          -- late-late-at-night after/during drinking
          -- maybe maybe for a first-date kinda thing, provided your date isn't a true sushi lover and would just want a fun place w/ dim lighting and some cooked food options

          Blue Ribbon is overpriced for the quality...the hamachi is usually good and i've had many solid meals there, but i've also occassionally had some shockingly untasty pieces of fish...what you are paying extra for there is the Soho scene and the fun woodsy space...

          My rec would be to take your hubby to Ushi Wakamaru...not trendy, neither crazy expensive nor cheap...if possible, sit at the bar and have the owner/chef Hideo-san take care of you

          2 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            Ushi Wakamaru was closed down by the Department of Health.

            DOH did nothing until the rat video from KFC. Now they are on a witch hunt closing up so many decent places.

            1. re: JasonChow

              Ushi is almost as expensive as BR, but quality is a step up. I love the ambiance, but for some it may be a bit uninspiring. I intend to support Ushi when they re-open with so much patronage that I grow gills. They have been made a sacrificial lamb by the DOH, in my view. Try the toro tataki. He does it with a pastry blowtorch! Rad!

          2. blue ribbon *will* break the bank!

            3 Replies
            1. re: TBird

              Actually, we had lunch there over the weekend and got out of there with a bill, before tip - of under $100, including 2 glasses of wine. That is unusual for us though.

              1. re: MMRuth

                i need to learn from you! me and a friend ate there, and while we had a few bottles of sake as well, the final tally was $500-ish...

                1. re: TBird

                  Well, that might be the difference - and we had a dinner party to go to that night, so we ordered less food than we usually do. But usually the bill - which will probably include a cheap large sake and a bottle of white wine (low end) will be under $200.

            2. I don't think Blue Ribbon sushi is of great quality. May be good, but there are many better ones in town. For downtown, Simon suggested Ushi Wakamaru which is great but you may need to wait till they re-open. Kanoyama on 2nd Ave (11th Str.) is another option and their cooked food is better than Ushi Wakamaru (as you mentioned you are not a sushi lover so I want to make sure you are well fed as well ;D).

              You can also try LAN on 3rd Ave. They currently offer a sushi tasting menu and a regular tasting menu (around $60-$70 before tax and tips and alcohol) which I think will be perfect for you and your husband.

              Hope you have a wonderful celebration!

              1 Reply
              1. re: kobetobiko

                Kobe - Thank you for thinking of me
                and thank you all for your input.

                It's a hard decision. Please keep the replies coming.

              2. br sushi is mediocre when it comes to sushi and the staff. i've eaten there several times and have never left feeling satisfied... rather always wonder why i keep giving it another chance. the food isnt bad, it's just not good. take him to yasuda or nobu or omen (not sushi but good sashimi and other japanese selections + nice environment).

                1 Reply
                1. re: POTsticker

                  definitely not Nobu for sushi-Nobu is for Americanized cooked Japenese food but not known for sushi-its loud and fun and even more fun when someone else is paying!!

                2. I would recommend Japonica on University. The sushi is pretty good, won't break the bank, & if you sit by the window, the people-watching in the village can't be beat. I'm a fan of their Chirashi. It's huge, fresh & only around $27.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: monalisawoman

                    I used to love Japonica, and my now-husband and I would go every Friday night for years in the 90s. But, about a year ago we went back after a hiatus, and were quite disappointed in the quality of the food and the prices - don't mind spending money on sushi, but didn't think the value was there.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Japonica used to be so good. It was actually a bargain, but I'm going back into the mid-nineties. It's as if someone there woke up to the kind of foot traffic they get there and jacked up the prices and lessened portions. I haven't ventured in for a long time, since I can really inhale sushi. It would be easy to spend $80 or $90 there.

                      1. re: sing me a bar

                        Yes - that pretty much sums up our experience. We don't hesitate to spend $200 for the two of us, but the last time we did that at Japonica, we were v. disappointed.

                  2. The thing about the Blue Ribbon Sushis and Japonicas of this world is that we probably all used to like them at one stage in our sushi education but then we graduated and moved on to better places. I know that's what happened in my case more so with BR which I frequented a few times. They have one item I always used to think was standout, namely baby eel nigiri and they have a good, albeit expensive, sake list but it's just not in the same league as so many places that regularly get promoted on this board e.g. Yasuda, Ushi, Kanoyama, the latter two of which are downtown (although I hear that Ushi is currently closed due to healthy and safety).

                    And if it's late night sushi that you're looking for, then Lan on 3rd Av is also far superior and stays open until 2am (maybe even 3am) I believe.

                    So perhaps the only worth for BR sushi these days is Sunday afternoon sushi cravings although even then you've got places like Hasaki in EV open until 4pm and then say Kanoyama opening for evening service at 5pm so it ain't really a lengthy window.

                    I think that I've made my point where BR is concerned :-)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: oonth

                      Wow, oonth, I think we have very similar preferences in sushi. See my previous post above.

                      1. re: kobetobiko

                        kobe, i think you're right, we seem to tally on those occasions when we've both posted on a sushi/japanese related thread.

                        thing about Lan is that everyone always assumes that it's either trendy (and therefore not great) or all about the beef/meat whereas in truth it always had very good sushi in my experience. and that got better when one of the ex-sushi chefs from Ushi started working there earlier this year, i have a nice rapport with him so always get well looked after (that's what sushi bar culture is all about right? especially in japan). and now they have these sushi tasting menus, i remember seeing a positive E Eto post about these, I haven't tried them yet as i'm not currently living in NYC. and also worth knowing is that they have 1/2 price sake (all bottles) on Monday nights and they have a very good selection.

                        i'm definitely missing the NYC sushi scene but luckily i've spent the last few months mainly in Tokyo, Bangkok and London and the sushi scene in each of those places is very good (Tokyo obviously, Bangkok surprisingly but large Japanese ex-pat community and London improving all the time).

                        Btw, I like all your posts whether they relate to Japanese food or otherwise, they always display insight and depth of knowledge, i'm guessing that you've done plenty of eating beyond Manhattan.

                        1. re: oonth

                          Lan suffers also because it's on a weird stretch of street (3rd Avenue next to what, Blue 9 burger? Cheesesteak places?). The name doesn't really lend itself to the type of cuisine it serves, perhaps? And I agree, it definitely feels very trendy inside of Lan. Additionally, I've looked around and seen many of the other patrons ordering rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls, which made me wonder if it was worth looking at other options. I can't wait to go back and try that tasting menu that E Eto posted about!

                      2. re: oonth

                        Blue Ribbon was really disappointing on a Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago. Tiny pellets of rice in the nigiri and we were surrounded by spicy tuna/ california rollers in the booths around us. Seems like the BR space would make a much better izakaya than sushi shop. It actually reminds me of a few places in Shimokitazawa town of Tokyo...

                        The places you list are pretty much the "party line" when it comes to sushi in downtown New York. Although it has made strides forward in recent years, the bottom line is I can still get better pizza and hamburgers in Tokyo, than sushi and yakitori in New York. And the fact that Ushi Wakamaru has been shuttered by the Department of Health is pretty disappointing. I haven't thought of it as a top tier place and this certainly doesn't help..

                        If I were eating sushi for my birthday, I'd want to be taken to Yasuda or Shimizu and sat in front of the master. Edit: ..Though a subway/cab ride from downtown would be in order for such.

                        1. re: oonth

                          I think that's a good point - and I think that's how I felt about Japonica. Certainly Yasuda is much better than either it or BR. I'm still working on my education though!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            MMRuth, it's an ongoing education!! I would certainly always prefer to eat my sushi in Japan compared to NYC but I think that some, but obviously not all, of the NYC sushi bars have developed a nice style of their own. One frustration is that everyone is so obsessed with the so-called omakase option these days, it's kind of like a badge of honour. Silverjay has posted informatively about what exactly omakase means/entails before on the Japan board, definitely worth a read.

                            Shimizu gets some credit on this board but he deserves more not just for his food and demeanour but also for his beautiful white countertop made of coran!! I looked at getting the kitchen top in my London apartment made from the same material, it's seriously expensive stuff!!

                        2. I have had many many wonderful meals at BRS-- I live around the corner from it.

                          Given that, I feel little disloyal declaring my head-over-heels love for Soto. Amazing. But it will break the bank, no question.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jens

                            Thank you for all your replies. We've been to Nobu, years ago. While we enjoyed, it was a one time experience. We've also been to Gari where we were served by Gari. Loved that. I'm looking for something though less expensive this time. I'd love to try Yasuda but it will have to wait. I'm hoping to get away with spending $150 more or less. Lan looks interesting. Any other opinions on it? I think I'm making myself nuts trying to decide.