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May 20, 2009 06:40 PM

Tough Sushi Choice

Me and a good friend both love sushi, and are looking to try on of NY's top sushi restaurants, but are having trouble deciding for sure, as price is a concern. Ideally, we would like to spend no more that 50 pp, but if it goes a little over that it is not a problem, as long as it is worth it.

Sushi Yasuda- The obvious choice, we would love to try there extensive variety and get the Yasuda experience. One idea is to share a Sushi Matsu (is this available for dinner??) and then order omakase with our budget. We are much more interested in, say, shellfish or an interesting fish we have never tried over toro; do the specials come in a range of prices or are they generally expensive? We do not care about the time limit.

Sushi Azabu- This seems to be a little less expensive, significantly so? Is the experience at the bar as interesting, and the variety (nearly) as wide as Yasuda? How could we order to keep costs down?

Kanoyama- Here we would split the "omakase" platter and then order more specials/real omakase. The selection seems really interesting, maybe a little cheaper...

Ushiwakamaru- Any thoughts?

Any others? I just saw Shimizu and Sushiya mentioned in another thread.

EDIT: Also, are any of these cheaper for lunch?


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  1. We like Kanoyama a lot. Yet, it isn't as upscale, or "Zen" as Sushi Yasuda. It might be heresy but I've not been wowed by Sushi Yasuda, and I have been there a number of times for lunch. Never dinner. Yes, its good, but its not head and shoulders above some other spots. Kanoyama will also be much less expensive than Sushi Yasuda. Again, however, they are two different dining experiences.

    6 Replies
    1. re: comiendosiempre

      We only care about the experience with regards to interacting with the chefs. I currently have a Sat night resy at the sushi bar at Yasuda but am very open to change.

      1. re: ian9139

        just a note or two on yasuda...if you're not doing omakase at the bar, i would skip it. the basic menu is a huge step down from the a la carte fish and omakase items. i had a table reservation a few weeks ago and ordered about $100 worth of sushi pieces and then foolishly added a 'sashimi combo' or their variation of it from the basic menu. it was a huge quality discrepancy.

        personally, for $50/person, id go to ushi and do the 10 piece omakase or the special that they have. not sure if they do it at the bar but it is a fantastic meal.

        1. re: sam1

          Not to get off track with the topic, but what is the advantage of doing omakase? Is there a noticeable quality difference in fish? I always like knowing what I am ordering but was curious about the appeal. Also, is omakase different than when you order the x pieces of sushi + roll based on chef's choice option?

          1. re: cups123

            Omakase is basically just the chef's choice. Most places (assuming you sit at the sushi bar) its not a set "meal", and the sushi-ya will just keep feeding you pieces until you say so. or you can also specify how many pieces you want before hand. At the end of the day, its the same result... you let the sushi chef pick the pieces for you.

          2. re: sam1

            We were planning on sharing a Sushi Matsu to try some of the fish on that list (a couple interesting plus some reg but good like uni) and then ordering the rest of the fish a la carte, taking the chefs opinion into account. Would this be frowned upon if we were sitting at the bar? That is where my reservation is but I didn't ask for a specific chef since it didn't seem like it would matter as much if we weren't doing omakase. How is the omakase menu special at ushi? If it is really amazing and diverse selection we would love to try it, but if it is typical with maybe just toro or king salmon or even uni thrown in to justify the price we would not like that. The problem with a la carte is that the prices seem even higher than yasuda; even if the pieces are bigger, we would rather eat a little less and try more.

            1. re: ian9139

              I've done the 15 piece set at Ushiwakamaru a few times. Yes, you can do it at the bar. They do it in flights of 5 pieces at a time. There is a pretty good variety and it's a lot of bang for your buck. However, they don't really put on the really interesting/obscure stuff.

              In contrast, at Sushi Azabu, you get a set (I forget how many pieces - 8 or 9 and 1 very small roll?) that the chef sauces one at a time for you (this is REALLY nice and the sauce is distributed equally across the entire piece) and hands directly to you. It's more expensive than Ushi, yes, but the variety is a lot less. Even the daily specials menu is pretty short. I've always been happy with the quality of fish, but some CH have reported bad experiences.

      2. Soto - down in the west village is great. It's on 357 6th Ave between Washington Place and West 4th - very nondescript so a bit tough to find. It can be a bit on the pricey side but the dishes are very unique and exquisite. Dishes are colorful and creative with such choices as Steamed Lobster and Uni Mousse and Chyu Toro Tar Tare - chopped fatty part of big eye tuna with avocado coulis, garnished with caviar, chive, served in sesame ponzu sauce.

        357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

        1 Reply
        1. re: YummyInTheCity

          I would love to go there, as I absolutely love uni, but it seems much more expensive than kanoyama, ushi, even yasuda.

        2. Another choice would be Aki Sushi on West 4th - Japanese and Caribbean inspired sushi. They currently offer a $29.95 3 course prix-fixe all night. Favorites include the Tuna Mille Feuille (layered tuna/avocado/fiji apple) and the Eel Napoleon.

          181 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

          2 Replies
          1. re: YummyInTheCity

            i would not recommend aki. i had a disappointing meal there several years ago and do not think it's in the same league as any of the other places mentioned in this thread.

            1. re: emma

              Not to mention the place always smells like cheap cleaning products to me - kind of hard to taste anything over that.

              I really like Blue Ribbon Sushi. I can't say it is cheap, but I find it is a little less expensive than many of the other top sushi places, and just about as good.

              Sushi of Gari is great, but fairly expensive.

          2. Just throwing this out there, others can chew it up:

            I always veeeery much enjoy my meals at Blue Ribbon Sushi downtown, where I order lavishly (and go way over $50), but where I notice that it's way less way over than I usually go (so it's gotta be "inexpensive") but some of that enjoyment is the non-sushi sides.

            btw uptown Blue Ribbon Sushi on W 58th I think is a dud, hotelly, and not "strangely delicious". I guess it's not that hotelly, what it feels like to me is Suisse chalet ski lodgey, which I'm also not looking for. Atmosphere on Sullivan Street is sooo nice.

            Blue Ribbon Sushi
            119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

            1 Reply
            1. re: acidity

              Thanks, I really like Blue Ribbon Sushi, but have already been and am looking to try something new. Aki looks good but not for this meal. I hope I am not overlooking Kanoyama and Ushi, but I think I will go to Yasuda. The selection looks awesome and I think I can keep prices down and still try a bunch of new things- if this is not the case please let me know (I haven't seen specials menu but I assume prices aren't too out of line with the stuff on the regular menu).

            2. We spent just over $100 for two (yes you read that right) before tax and tip. We did this by splitting the Sushi Matsu-seriously everyone should do this because between two people you will probably order 6 each of the things on their anyway (12 total pieces plus half roll... includes up to 2 pieces of uni, squid fin, kuchiko, squid fin, etc). We had 13 pieces each plus split a half roll and were happily satisfied (we had shared a Magnolia banana pudding before but are generally big eaters) Admittedly, it might have been a bit higher if we had the desire to have toro, or if abalone, uni, or sweet shrimp were available (some of the more expensive pieces). That is one last thing- we were there late on a Saturday night (they are closed sunday) so certain things that were on the menu ran out before we were there, or before we could order them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ian9139

                glad you found a place you liked at the right price. Kanoyama cost me over 150 just for myself , but the fish and preparation on the omakase is amazing ,,usually too much food. 15 east is still my favorite but the price is very high, was over 200 last time i went. Yasuda I like the eel there but hate the management and will never go back. I had a great meal at jewel bako, i think its still very good. Ushiwakamura overrated, not worthy of the mention with the top places. Azabu is hit and miss. Soto has some good dishes if the owner prepares them,if not , mediocre. Aki is interesting but not highest quality fish nor a great assortment of fish. Hatsuhana ( the original best) worth trying again, depending on the sushi chef you get , you will be pleasantly suprised at the quality of the fish there.