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Moving from NYC, some last sushi before i go

in my years in NYC, i have learned to be a sushi-snob. quality is paramount, selection is important, creativeness is enjoyed, although i love the traditional as well. even the great places tend to excel in one or the other, and i'm OK with that.

my current favorites: traditional/Yasuda; creative/Soto
favorite delicacy: uni (i can wax poetic about this stuff)
runner up: kani miso (really hard to find)
always enjoy trying new-to-me things

others i have enjoyed, and why:
- Nobu - special preparations using raw fish, not for traditional
- Seki - years ago, when they were still new, for inventive, creative (only went once)
- Sushiden - also years ago, they've gone up and down in quality, but they have kani miso, and good quality uni, and often some unusual bits that are rarely seen in NYC

places that i may have enjoyed once or twice, but went downhill in a can't-go-back way:
- Blue Ribbon Sushi
- Hatsuhana

based on the research i've done, i'm intrigued by the following:
- 15 East (Hokkaido uni)
- Ushi Wagamaru (omakase, but "must sit" with Hideo and buy him drinks?)
- Kanoyama (for daily specials and/or omakase involving daily specials)

so, assuming i only have time to fit ONE of these places in, and based on my preferences and interests -- which would you recommend and why?

it seems obvious/likely i would need a reservation for Ushi (due to restriction of sitting with Hideo), but would they be necessary at the others, assuming it was not a predictably-peak time?

thanks,
alekz

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  1. Well, if you've not been to Gari, I might try it if I were you. Otherwise, I'd go back to Yasuda.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      stay with the best, stay with yasuda.

      i have a hard time trying new places...if im going to spend $150-175/head, yasuda is my joint.

      ushi is quite good and much less...you can roll out of there at 60-75/head.

      1. re: sam1

        agree u should hit yasuda...its so consistent

        kuruma - if ure willing to shell out some dough (talking $200) then try kuruma, his cuts of fish are really really good (i think very slightly better than yasuda), but his non-fish selection won't blow u away (i.e. yasuda have great eel etc)

        15 east - absolutely love 15 east (they have great uni btw) i think its def better than ushi or kanoyama

        gari - definitely innovative, but its expensive and hit or miss...go to the UES one and make sure gari himself is there if u go (and sit in front of him) when he is there and ure in front of him, its usually very good

    2. i have not been to yasuda, so i can't really contest that suggestion. i will say that Sasabune (73rd b/w 1st and York) is my favorite sushi in the city. Not as inventive as Gari or Seki, but also not as traditional as Kuruma or Yasuda (from what i've heard). It's omakase only, and will run you about $100/pp with sake, but Kenji's fish is some of the best I've tasted. He goes to Hunt's Point every morning at 5am to source the freshest local fish, and the other stuff (his yellowtail in particular) is from Japan and inordinately good. It's a bit lacking in decor, but the fish makes the experience. Highlights of the meal (you get almost the same meal every time) include Hawaiin Butterfish, broiled with an eel sauce reduction, and the ending blue crab roll which simple and perfect.

      3 Replies
      1. re: masterofceremonies

        thanks all for your suggestions thus far, however i would like to focus on the specifics i initially addressed. btw, i've already been to Kuruma (didn't like it any better than i liked Yasuda), will likely go back to Yasuda anyway, and am most definitely looking to

        1) try a place i haven't been to before
        2) try one of the 3 places i've listed (Ushi, 15 East, Kanoyama).

        i've already done a fair amount of research, what the missing link is for me is someone who can compare them to each other, preferably based on my stated preferences.

        Thank you Lau for specifying that you would pick 15 East over the other two. would that just be based on the uni, or just overall experience and quality?

        i probably only have one week left (next week) in which to eat at a few last places.

        thanks again,
        alekz

        1. re: charlie_b

          the reason i liked 15 east is for a few reasons a) i think the quality of the fish is better than either ushi or kanoyama b) i think their uni is really very good 3) their octopus appetizer is the best octopus ive ever had (they massage it literally for an hr and slow poach it for 2 hrs)

          ushi - i like ushi, i think its very good, one of the better in the city that said i think its a slight notch below on fish quality (thats not saying is bad, but its still very good)
          kanoyama - ive always found kanoyama to be sort of hit or miss, like ive had some very good meals there and ive had some just good meals there...i think its imperative u sit at the sushi bar (this is the case anywhere, but i noticed a massive fall off in quality)

          the one knock on 15 east is the sushi cuts are on the small side...i really really like this place and suggest u go, i really think its just a notch better than the other two

          1. re: charlie_b

            Ah, I didn't see your post earlier, for some reason. Lau expresses my sentiments perfectly: 15 East has fresher, more flavorful fish and better selection.

            Kanoyama and Ushi are good value, but I've found both places very inconsistent in terms of quality. (One of the sushi chefs at Ushi told me never to go on a Tuesday or another day of the week, which I've forgotten.)

            I have, on occasion, had good meals at both Kanoyama and Ushi, but if you only get one shot, don't gamble. Go to 15 East.

        2. Did you want a recommendation for one of the places you haven't tried, yet? If so, I'd go with 15 East. The quality of the fish is consistently high and there are often interesting specials on the menu.

          If you want opinions on places you've already tried... I've eaten at Yasuda and Kuruma Zushi in quick succession, recently. I think I've finally come down on the side of Kuruma as the restaurant that has the most consistent quality (though Yasuda did have good, non-Hokkaido uni last week -- I think from the waters near Alaska).

          For 'creative', I agree with you that Soto is best.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            Lau- thanks for the further info and clarification
            Cimui-thanks for your input and comments

            i've only tried Kuruma once on someone else expense account. i think it's probably a little too rich for me.

            i'll give 15 East a try and let y'all know my thoughts.

            i'd like to fit in return visits to Yasuda, Sakagura, and Soto before i go, but some of that will have to wait for visits. i also want to return to Aquavit and EMP.

            thanks again,
            alekz

            1. re: charlie_b

              totally agree with Lau....if you haven't been to Sushi of Gari, that's your move...and yes....sit in front of Gari....guarantee you an etherial experience.

          2. Tomoe Sushi is my favorite. Original owner sushi chef guy is back now and quality is back again. David Blaine is a regular there. Saw him once lunch time before close. He was eating a bunch of tuna hand roll (might be negi toro). David's buddy Leo DiCaprio also goes there. Good sushi restaurant always have good tamago (egg). They know what they are doing.

            1. Which sushi-ya served you kani-miso (I'm assuming as gunkan maki)? I've only had this prepared from tarabagani and typically look for this during winter.

              One noteable omission from your list is Shimizu. I've enjoyed their hikari mono (your timing, again, could be better here) and have never had an opportunity to taste their warmer season offerings.

              Both Ushi and Kanoyama would appeal to your more rarified inclinations.
              Ask/order directly - and do expect to pay.

              Let me throw you a curve: there's an itamae who works the far end of the counter at Soto - he's got a good hand. If the place is "in the weeds", however, you'll have a hard time getting his attention.

              Given your muse, you may find murasaki uni appealing.

              1. Surprised no one mentioned Jewel Bako (I've wanted to go but haven't yet been) or Momoya (been multiple times, very impressed).

                2 Replies
                1. re: NYChristopher

                  jewel bako fell off along time ago (15 east chef was the head sushi chef at jewel bako)

                  never been to momoya

                  1. re: Lau

                    Can't beat owner / chef sushi places. Sushi chef's commitment level will be low in hired chief sushi chef situation. Maybe you can apply that in any type of restaurant. Owner / chef establishment are the best.