Best inventive sushi: Gari, Sasabune, Seki?
I have actually been to all three, but can't quite remember enough to compare.
For inventive / fusion omakase, which do you prefer? Gari? Sasabune? Seki? Or another place?
I have read all the previous posts, but I think I am asking a narrower question.
Soto is very good as well -
Went there after a meeting with David Barber at Blue Hill (Dan's brother) recommended it as a great west village neighborhood place. Otherwise I probably would have never heard of it. Not really omakase - but lots of small dishes.
It's great - very inventive sushi/sashimi but super pricey so be aware.
357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014
I haven't been to Sasabune, but have been to Seki 4-5 times and Gari many times. The "head" sushi chef at Seki used to work at Gari. I prefer Gari - I think the food is just that much better. However, the room at Seki (compared to that of Gari UES) is nicer, and they are open until 3:00 am, which is what usually brings me there, luggage and all, after vacations in a sush-free area! Oh, I also recall the service at Seki being glacial during busy times, whereas I've always had quite good service at Gari.
(I've not eaten at the sushi bar at either place, by the way.)
I have to been to all three. Speaking from the point of view that you sit at the sushi bar and do omakase (the only option at Sasabune...) I think Gari is the most inventive in terms of sushi. Sasabune does some "dishes" that are great and part of the omakase but if you are talking strictly piece by piece sushi, I think Gari is the most inventive. You will see identical pieces at Seki and Gari (tuna with tofu sauce, yellowtail with jalapeno...) but Gari seems to push the envelope a little more. And everytime I visit Gari (once a month? for Omakase) I have at least one new piece that I haven't had before. Seki tends to stick to the same pieces in the rotation.
Seki and Gari are very similar (Gari was Seki's teacher) but I prefer Seki. We've done Omakase enough there that I've built a list of my favorite pieces, if you're interested:
Snapper with sea salt
Spicy scallop (I like it in handroll form with no rice)
Yellowtail with jalapeno
Salmon with tomato
Chopped eel with avocado
Fluke with plum sauce
Seared tuna with onions
Also, the tuna avocado appetizer is amazing.
At Gari, my faves:
Miso marinated cod fish
Seabass with fried seaweed
Tuna with tofu sauce
Sea eel seared with eel sauce
Yellowtail with jalapeno sauce
Red snapper, baby greens, pine nuts and fried lotus
Salmon with roasted tomato.
Wow, this post just made me very hungry. I've been to Seki & Gari many times and I echo the sentiments - both places' omakases are very similar. I'd be very happy with either but my edge goes to Seki for their consistently very good non-sushi dishes and 3am closing time.
As for what sushi to have at Seki if you're choosing a la carte, I think Kashei prett much nailed my favorites as well. Definitely try the snapper w/ sea salt, the tuna w/ tofu, the salmon with torched tomato and the spicy scallop handroll. Note, the live shrimp is excellent but not necessarily for the faint of heart...
As to your original question, the sushi is certainly inventive at Gari/Seki, but I don't think there's much fusion, so to speak, in either. I've never been to Sasabune so do not have a basis for comparison.