I'm looking for some great unagi (don preferably, but sushi will do)...I've eaten at all of the best sushi places in the city and i've always loved unagi, but i never really went out of my way for it in NY. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of who might serve outstanding unagi in the city?
I can't recommend a specific place, but unagi in Japanese cuisine is a summertime item and strongly associated with that season. It would be unusual, dubious perhaps, if an authentic Japanese restaurant offered it in the middle of the winter. Probably from frozen, overseas sources if so. In Japan, it's rarely eaten as sushi in favor of "anago"- salt water eel.
While the perfect season for unagi is summer, that doesn't mean that it is not offered in the restaurants (even authentic ones) during the rest of the year. It only means that the best offerings will be in summer when the eels are fatty and meaty. Other times unagi will still be available, but not at its prime.
Just like uni, winter is a great season for fresh uni, but Japanese restaurants (authentic or not) will still have uni available all year round, albeit not at its prime state.
I do agree that anago is certainly more preferrable, at least for me, and I almost always order anago whenever it appears on the menu.
Lau, unfortunately in NYC there isn't any place that specializes in Unaju. This is something that INO you can't really exceptional quality in NYC. In Kanoyama, they do offer unagi shirayaki (grilled fresh water eel) from Japan as a special. I remember that I had unaju at Inagiku in Midtown a long time ago and it was quite good. But I haven't been there for ages (and I mostly went there for tempura anyway), so I can't attest to the current status.
Oh I just checked out Inagiku's website, and they still have unajyu available for lunch. In fact, they are offering unajyu as part of their restaurant week's lunch entree. You may want to check that out!
By the way, the anago tempura at both places are exceptional! Check that out too!