Looking for a sushi place that a beginner (my boyfriend) will like, but a more experienced sushi eater (me) will also enjoy. I'd be interested in a restaurant with tasty, fresh fish presented in creative ways (i.e. some cooked ingredients, familiar components, etc...) and I'm also hoping not to break the bank in case it doesn't work out. I've been to Yasuda and my crappy neighborhood places, but I can't think of anything in between.
Any ideas would be much appreciated. Please include success stories of restaurants that converted sushiphobes to sushiphiles.
I'm in Chelsea but am willing to travel.
I think for sushi beginners it is very important to bring them to good-quality sushi places so that they don't get the wrong impression of sushi being "fishy" and yucky. I have heard so many times that people thought uni is fishy and gross only because they had tried the bad quality ones. Once they tried the real fresh uni, they felt in love with the little sweet gem! Anyway, to find a place that fits both inexperienced (your bf) and experienced (you) diners, I will suggest:
- Kanoyama - This restaurant has a lot of fresh and harder-to-find fish flown in from Japan and other places, and if you sit at the bar you can order the real omakase selected from the freshest fish of the day. However, this will be expensive and may not be something for your bf. Instead, you can seat at the table, pick out simple a la carte sushi and rolls or the sushi omakase (note: the one on the menu, not exactly a real omakase but more of a sushi platter @ $30) for your bf. The sushi omakase is very fresh, and it does include uni and anago (in case your bf finds them too exotic, you can enjoy them and order him an extra roll). You can of course order whatever appeals to you. I think the price is very reasonable. Also, the cooked food there (appetizers, tempura, etc.) is excellent!
- Esashi - this place is small and simple and probably best bet for cheap yet fresh sushi. Their sushi / sashimi platters for 2 are very simple, nothing imtimidating at all. You may find it a bit too simple, but it will be a great way to introduce your bf good quality sushi. The sushi platter for 2 is only $34! It is really cheap for this good quality of food. Although the variety of fish in the platter is limited, at least they are properly made with fresh ingredients and rice (yes, not the pathetic rice you find in some neigborhood joints), and sushi novice should not find it intimidating.
I partially agree with foodwhisperer that Gari could be good for beginners. However, I do think that it is important to introduce the real sushi to beginners first (real sushi 101) before they go into the variations - fusion or very high quality (Yasuda, Kuruma Zushi, etc.). Gari is also going to be relatively expensive compared to the two places listed above.
Regardless of where you choose, I hope you have a wonderful sushi dinner with your bf and turn him into a sushi lover!
New Ashiya --167 1st Ave | Btwn 10th & 11th St. This is now my go to casual cheap sushi place. they have an all you can eat special which is only like 25 bucks or so which i did the first time but don't even bother doing b/c i usually don't end up spending even that much and am full. the fish quality is good and they have a ton of different non traditional rolls (thinks spicy this and crunch that). they take reservations, but if you get there before like 7:30 i'd say you don't need one. I am a hardcore sushi eater but like to mix in a shrimp tempura roll here and there, and think this place has stuff that will please people of all levels.
Beginners like sushi Gari on 78th st. or there's also one on UWS, and one at times square. there's enough stuff to cover up the fish taste,,,but enjoyable once in awhile for real sushi lovers too. The fish is very fresh. Sushi Seki on i think 63rd and 3rd is also a good beginner place.