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Feb 13, 2009 04:20 PM

Sushi Sasabune, Jewel Bako, Sugiyama, Kuruma Zushi, Nobu, Bar Masa, Sushi Seki, Sushi by Gari

....what is the best, or at least great sushi in New York?

Money not necessarily an object, and the better Omakase the better.

Also, for you sushi fiends that have also been to LA sushi Bars, please also make comparisons to top-knotch Los Angeles sushi bars it might just be similar to


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  1. Well, Sushi Sasabune is owned by the same people who own the LA one, so if you've been there or Nowzowa or Echigo, you know the scoop. It's my favorite in NYC, but if you're coming from LA, I'd say wait till you get home and eat something you can't get better there. Masa used to be Ginzo Sushiko when it was in LA and even more expensive, Bar Masa is the cheaper option. Nobu is Matsauhisa which I still think Matsauhisa is the best but I haven't been blown away by any of his restaurants in quite a while. Jewel Bako is so overrated but they have good sake. I like Sushi Seki, it's not too expensive for NY, he gets good fish and he does some different things on the traditional side ala Kiriko but a bit more innovative. You are not going to find the variety of sushi in NY. It's very expensive and most places don't even rise above Teru Sushi.

    1 Reply
    1. re: annnyny

      Wow, that's sobering to hear. Nothing much better than Teru Sushi in Los Angeles? Thought NY had some exceptional sushi restaurants, save for Masa (aka the old Ginza Sushiko in Beverly Hills, which is actually now taken over by his old highly talented sous chef Hiro and renamed Urasawa).

      What would you compare Sushi Seki too?

      Yep, been to Echigo, and all the other Nozawa style off shoots in Los Angeles.

      And yeah, I know that there's a Sasabune on the UES of NY, is there any other sushi bar in that Nozawa style vein there?


    2. For really really amazing sushi, you can't beat Yasuda. Kuruma just isn't worth the extra money (though Yasuda isn't cheap either). The fish is SUBLIME and not only is the fish great, but the nori (seaweed) and the rice are just as good. I could eat just rice and seaweed there and be in heaven.

      Sushi by Gari is great too, but the fish itself isn't up to par with Yasuda or Kuruma. They are into fusion sushi. For instance, one of the most famous pieces of fusion nigiri there is a piece of salmon sushi with a baked slice of tomato on top with one of Gari's special sauces. It is more for something a little different and for the pairing of different flavor elements in sushi.

      I have to give Sugiyama a HUGE thumbs up. It is one of my favorite restaurants in New York. It is UNBELIEVABLE. It is, however, not a sushi place. He specializes in kaiseki cuisine and cooked Japanese food. I must say, however, that the sashimi and sushi that he does serve as part of his set menu is sublime. It stands up to the best sushi places in town, including Yasuda. I was not expecting that and was very pleasantly surprised. If you go here, I would recommend getting the 8-course kaiseki set. If that is too steep, the 5-course will still give you a very good look inside the perfection of Sugiyama. I LOVE this place and highly recommend it. Read my recent review of it on CH:

      I would stay away from Nobu. It's not worth the hype.

      Let us know what you end up doing!

      2 Replies
      1. re: j.jessica.lee

        how are the prices on Sugiyama for the set menus?

        If i remember correctly sugiyama opened close to 10 years ago or so. back when ruth reichl was still reviewing restaurants for the ny times.

        what are the special sauces that Sushi by Gari employs???

        1. re: kevin

          Sugiyama's 5-course menu is $58 and the 8-course kaiseki is $75. I don't like paying a lot of money for food. I eat at home mostly, lots of cooking. But when I do eat out, I want to make sure it's really worth the money I spend, and this, though quite pricey, is worth every single penny. They do have a pre/post theater menu for $32. It's three courses and is available from 5:30 - 6:30 and then from 9 - 10. I haven't tried that yet.

          The special sauces vary from piece to piece. I think most are soy sauce based. Or like the spicy mayo sauces you find on special rolls at sushi places.

      2. If we are talking about sushi, then you can scratch off Sugiyama (which serves kaiseki) and Nobu (which really sucks in terms of sushi)

        Then if you were to compare to top-notch LA sushi, I can say my favorite is Urasawa, and only Masa is at the same leauge. But I personally find the price to be a bit hard to swallow ($450 for food alone), and it was a treat for me to go there. I would actually go for Urasawa for the about the same quality of food (granted, I do think Masa is an edge better foodwise), but the warm service at Urasawa and Chef Hiro was something that you couldn't find at Masa.

        Don't bother with Bar Masa. It is really average and overpriced. It's not even remotely close to the quality that you get at the real Masa.

        Moving on, the only candidates that can compre to top-notch LA sushi will be Yasuda, 15 East, and Kuruma Zushi. Yasuda is the cheapest of all 3, but at the same time it's my least favorite. Not to say their sushi isn't good, in fact it is excellent and the fish and rice balance is probably the best among all 3, but I am still not happy with any place who gives a time restriction on omakase. Plus the service there is inconsistent. Some servers are really inexperienced. I know there are tons of fans here for Yasuda and someone is going to throw a size X shoe at me, but that's just how I feel about Yasuda as whole.

        Kuruma Zuhi gives you top-notch toro, and they should with the price that they are charging. They do nothing but sushi so they are really serious about their fish. But at the same time if I think that they can do a better job at their rice since they only specialize in sushi and nothing else. I tend to do sashimi there more than sushi. If you want seriously good fish you should expect to pay really high price.

        15 East is overall a more balanced restaurant. The sushi there is fantastic and service is adequate. I love their uni and anago. Sometimes I don't like the way that they cut the fish for sashimi but for sushi they are perfectly fine. Omakase at the sushi bar is a great experience, and if you sit at the table for their cooked dishes, they are not too shabby either.

        By the way, all my comments are referring to omakase at the sushi bar.

        As for others like Seki and Gari, I am not a big fan of sushi with special sauces which I found to be overshadowing the quality of the fish. Jewel Bako's old chef is now at 15 East so don't bother with Jewel Bako. I actually have only been to the Sasabune in LA and was not impressed at all, so I never visited the one in NYC.

        7 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          Yep, omakase at the bar is what I'm getting at, of course. Especially I would never go to Masa, and drop 500 per, and sit at a table that's just utter silliness to me.

          As for Kuruma, how much is a piece of toro there. Otoro? or chutoro? by the single piece i mean, i just want to get a handle on how the prices compare to LA. in La, a single piece of toro could run anywhere from 5 dollars for a chutoro piece to about 10 per piece of ultra-buttery o-toro. i think the most i dropped before was $20 bucks for two pieces of toro, or 12 bucks for a small negitoro handroll. thanks.

          1. re: kevin


            I seriously don't know how much it is by piece because everytime I go to Kuruma Zushi, I just sit at the bar and order omakase without even looking at the menu. And again, I mostly order sashimi. However, I think it should be around $15 - $20? Depending on the level of the toro. It is easy to drop $300+ for dinner at Kuruma even if you are ordering normal amount of sushi. If you add a few otoro or expensive tai fish here and there, $400+ is quite possible.

            I go to Kuruma mainly to satisfy my craving for extremely fresh fish (particularly toro), but don't usually go there to try to fill my stomach completely full (imagine eating sashimi until you are full, that will be a lot of sashimi)

            1. re: kobetobiko

              wow, 400 big ones.

              in that case Masa with all the various dishes seems like a downright bargain.

              would you say the toro at kuruma is better than masa?

              1. re: kevin

                Hi Kevin,

                That's hard to say because I have only been to Masa twice and many more time at Kuruma. But I will say that the best toro I had at Kuruma was better than the ones I had at Masa (but not every time at Kuruma that you get THE best).

              2. re: kobetobiko

                Kevin, my rule of thumb is that sushi is about twice as expensive in NY as LA, mainly because you only get one piece per order.

            2. re: kobetobiko

              I was very underwhelmed by Yasuda. We went there once, shortly after returning from LA (where all we do is eat sushi) and we were unimpressed, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't up to the hype or the price. Horrible sake selection as well. Why would you not have decent sake?

              Sasabune and the others like them are a different type of sushi experience. Nowzowa being the master of it in LA. It's my favorite personally, but it you're not expecting it, I could see how it would be strange. I find once you acquire a taste for it, you always crave it.

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Hats off to you kobetobiko especially for your thoughts on Yasuda. My additional comments are that Sassabune is not in the league of any of the places mentioned. The rice is too hot, the sushi falls apart , the fish is 90% not from japan. Jewel Bako has gotten good again.
                Table food at 15 east i was disappoined. the omikase at 15 east is my favorite of all the restaurants in NY, Ive never been to Masa, I tried but couldnt get in a few times. I'll stick with Massa at 15 East

              2. My friend swears by Tomoe Sushi. i've never been. Koi sucks. Nobu is my fave for everything but sushi.

                4 Replies
                1. re: saltnseltzer4me

                  Tomoe has long lines. So does Magnolia Bakery. They both are equally bad in their venues.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Yeah- Whenever she goes there are massive lines. But doesn't that say something about the food?

                      1. re: Ricky

                        Good to know. Next time she asks me to go I'll definitely think twice since so many chowhounds warn against it!