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Aug 15, 2009 02:54 PM

Top 10 Manhattan Sushi Let's see where we are 3 years later.
1. Yasuda
2. Kuruma Zushi
3. 15 East
4. Ushi Wakamaru
6.Sushi of Gari
8.Sushi Zen
9.Sushi Azabu

Some things change. Some stay the same. I must caveat that I haven't been to Seki for a long time and I am still saving my yen for Masa. Soto gets mentioned more for prepared dishes than sushi.

357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

15 East
15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

Sushi of Gari
402 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10075

Sushi Yasuda
204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

401 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

Sushi Zen
108 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

7 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

Sushi Azabu
428 Greenwich St (basement), New York, NY 10013

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  1. that's a mighty good list.

    have to say, however, that i don't quite get soto. i'd slide sushiden in there. and maybe, if we were being super meticulous, swap gari and wakamuru. otherwise. ace. gosh i need to get b ack to kuruma soon

    1. I'd definitely agree with Yasuda and Kurumazushi at the top. If you include Masa, that would be your top 3, though I'm not sure you'd get a strong consensus on the actual order (among people who've been to all 3).

      1. my top 5 are
        yasuda ( but i hate the management)
        suahi gari/sushi seki
        jewel bako

        sasabune i dont like at all, the rice falls apart, it shouldnt be hot rice. the fish is local not from japan.
        karuma is overpriced for what you get ,,i think its on par with hatsuhana
        Soto is ok if Soto san makes you his little cute dishes.
        Azabu is hit and miss, and only has one good sushi chef, Tirado-san

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          know why the japanese use japanese fish? because it's local

          1. re: thew

            Then what are they doing with all the fish they are importing from all over the world if not making sushi?

            1. re: KTinNYC

              yeah yeah. you know the point i was making to fw's post.

              somehow he implied there was a problem with using local fish for sushi. you only emphasize my point from the other end. sushi requires fresh and tasty fish, not japanese fish.

          2. re: foodwhisperer

            fyi, sasabune is known for using hot rice (i.e. its intentional)

            i dont think ushi wakamaru is top 5 either although its good

            kuruma is overpriced, but i think it is either #1 or 2 in the city (vies with yasuda), still haven't been to masa

          3. I haven't been to all of the above, but mine would be, in no particular order:

            1. Yasuda (actually is my #1)
            2. Ushi Wakamaru
            3. Sushi Azabu
            4. Shimizu
            5. Kanoyama

            I work a block away from Sushi Zen and have never been! I keep looking at the menu and it looks amazing, but I keep looking at the prices and it turns me off to going. I find Yasuda to be acceptably priced because, when sitting at the bar, the experience is etherial. How is Sushi Zen relative to its price?

            I know I will never go to Kuruma, even if the fish is "marginally better than Yasuda". I wasn't impressed with Sushi of Gari. 15 East is on my list of places to go too, but aren't the cooked dishes supposed to be better than the sushi?

            Soto is also on my list of places to get to at some point.

            And even though this is for Manhattan, I can't help but throw in Ki Sushi and Taro Sushi in Brooklyn! I just love them so much and I find them to be on par with places like Ushi! OK, sorry, back on track.

            The list barely ever seems to change very much... where did all the up and coming NEW sushi restaurants go? Like Azabu is relatively new, so there's one. But maybe they just don't break the top 10 because the top 10 are just that good. I always ask in these threads, despite these consistently amazing places, what relatively new places would make the top 10 were it not for the mainstays?

            4 Replies
            1. re: hamstrman

              I recently moved offices to Times Square and was skeptical about Sushi Zen but the chef is a master.
              Of course, not inexpensive.

              1. re: hamstrman

                I have been going to Sushi Zen for 15 years. Suzuki-san and all of his staff are wonderful.
                A sit-at-the-sushi-bar omakase will cost $150 per person with 2 beers or flasks of house saki. I would think that is pretty normal these days for top of the line omakase.

                1. re: hamstrman

                  15 east is my #3 sushi restaurant in the city, i eat there pretty regularly, the sushi is excellent, also get the Tako Yawarakani when you go, its their slow poached octopus, its the best octopus ive ever had

                  Azabu is quite good when its on

                  1. re: hamstrman

                    15 East - no way, the cooked food is very good but the sushi is fantastic. when you go (and you should), ask for the sushi counter and make sure Masato is there (usually not on Mondays)

                    Azabu is good but i found the fish selection a little limited

                    Soto - best for sashimi (rather than sushi) and uni (although both 15 East and Azabu have terriifc uni from different areas)

                    Kuruma is expensive, haven't been back in ages. Yasuda is probably the gold sushi standard in the city.

                  2. I'm from LA, and while I think NYC has LA restaurants beat across the board, sushi does disappoint everytime I go to NYC. Went to Yasuda last time I was in town, and was underwhelmed by the teeny-tiny, overpriced, and limited selection. Any places there besides koi serve spicy tuna on crispy rice (my fav)? I would love to hear what others suggest as well.

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: stineh_8

                      Spicy tuna is sort of heretical in a traditional sushi-ya. That's like telling Joël Robuchon to make you some jalapeño poppers. What's the point of eating top-grade maguro if you drown it in a mayonnaise sauce? And I've never heard of crispy rice in good nigiri sushi, as top sushi-yas take the quality and integrity of their sushi rice very seriously.

                      And I'm surprised you found the selection at Yasuda limited. There's generally a large selection of top-grade fish and other seafood available. The last time I went there were three types of uni, all of which were terrific. I don't think a place like Koi is even close to Yasuda.

                      1. re: stineh_8

                        yeah i was going to say the same thing as hcbk0702...although its your tastes, so if that's what you like then obviously thats perfectly fine, but fyi that isn't really sushi

                        btw the best sushi in LA is better than NY...go to Urasawa; i also disagree with you about LA...each city has its strengths, the problem with LA is people tend to stay in their areas and don't really explore LA...most asian food except indian (chinese, japanese, korean, thai, viet etc) are far superior in LA, also mexican is unbelievable in LA if you get authentic

                        1. re: Lau

                          I'd agree with you that Urasawa (and Masa) are a tier above Yasuda etc. But then again, the cost is more than double and both feature cooked dishes, not exclusively sushi and sashimi. On top of that, Masa goes for broke with truffles and foie gras, which you wouldn't expect to find in a traditional Japanese restaurant.

                          I'd also agree with you that LA Mexican is far, far, far better than NYC's, and LA is stronger in most Asian cuisines (especially Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese). However, I think NYC has LA beat in Japanese pretty easily overall.

                          1. re: hcbk0702

                            gotta disagree...japanese in LA is sort of all over the place geographically and i can't think of one thing japanese that LA does not have substantially better than NY (sushi - although that is the closest match, yakitori - no competition, ramen etc)

                            there are just alot more japanese people in LA vs NY...which is generally why asian food in LA is much better just bigger populations of the given ethnicity

                            happy to give you recs to try next time ure in LA if you want

                            1. re: Lau

                              I think one of the main issues is that a lot of great Japanese restaurants in NYC don't get discussed heavily on English language boards. Many of them fly well under the radar, serving almost exclusively Japanese clientèle. There aren't too many Western sake aficionados so Sakagura's immense sake list (and izakayas in general) attracts little attention from Westerners. Tori Shin, although it serves unquestionably the best yakitori in NYC that is comparable to the level of yakitori-yas in Tokyo, doesn't seem to be mentioned much compared to Yakitori Totto/Torys. Matsugen's handmade soba (there's a Matsugen in Tokyo as well) that uses buckwheat kernels sourced from a particular farm in Hokkaido, which they grind on premises, doesn't seem more popular than lesser soba-yas, despite it's high quality and Jean-Georges affiliation. A lot of favorites, like Matsuri, Riki and Tsukushi don't get mentioned much either outside of the Japanese ex-pat community. Supposedly Tsukushi's shoyu ramen is the best in town; I didn't even know they served ramen.

                              All I know that many of my native Japanese friends assert that NYC has the strongest Japanese food outside of Tokyo, even surpassing some other cities in Japan itself. They certainly know much more about it then I do. That said, LA Japanese is very strong as well.

                              1. re: hcbk0702

                                sake list wise i agree with you that sakagura is as strong as they get, but ive eaten at every place you mentioned and while good, i dont think most of them are really good except tori shin which is quite good, riki is fairly mediocre although i do eat there sometimes

                                next time ure in LA try torihei in torrance (again geographically torrance / gardena which aren't in what most people consider "LA" when they visit LA have a very substantial japanese population) for yakitori / oden (its unbelievable) will change your mind about LA

                                here's a great blog that has done a very good job exploring alot of great japanese in LA:

                                as an fyi, not talking down on ny food at all, which clearly has several cuisines that are much better than LA, i just personally think asian is not one of them

                                1. re: Lau

                                  I am hoping my post will survive the mods' filter, so here goes...

                                  I generally agree that LA has better East Asian food, but I'm going to have to agree with hcbk and say that NYC Japanese is better than LA Japanese food. I would be happy to be proven wrong (or get ideas for places to try, given that my parents live in SoCal!) If we take the best of each Japanese sub-genre, I feel NYC has them beat.

                                  HIGH-end Japanese: Masa - I'm with hcbk on this - you can compare it to Urasawa, but you can't really compare Urasawa to the "normal" sushi places in NYC, as hcbk mentioned, based on price and focus on non-sushi items as well

                                  Sushi: Yasuda, 15 East or any of a few others in this thread :) I think they are better than Go's Mart or Mori, which some have said are the best in LA. I haven't been to Katsuya, but if people strongly suggest that restaurant, or any others, I'd love to find out

                                  Ramen: Santouka>Ippudo>Setagaya; Aside from Santaouka in SoCal, which has its equal in the Santouka in NJ, are there any ramen joints in LA that better Ippudo/Setagaya, etc.? (granted, they aren't amazing, though both were great in the beginning);

                                  Kaiseki: Sugiyama, Kyo Ya - any equal to these in SoCal?

                                  Sakagura: no equal, as mentioned before

                                  Yakitori: Tori Shin - I went to Shinsengumi, and that place isn't even in the same universe as Tori Shin, let alone Yakitori Totto; will have to give Torihei a try

                                  Soba/Udon: Matsugen/15 East (chef is from Honmura-An) - any great soba places?

                                  Shabu shabu - LA wins - unfortunately, I haven't found any places in NYC that equal Kagaya. Any suggestions?

                                  Home style/casual/others not covered above - this is where LA may have NYC beat, by sheer quantity and perhaps quality. I will also say I've found you do get more for your money in LA.

                                  1. re: NYAngeleno

                                    we're getting into one of those discussions that won't end since we're getting very much into personal opinion on what we would all agree is good food, but ill try to clarify anyhow and perhaps my original statement is too strong. Of east asian food japanese is definitely the closest NY compared to LA (although others aren't even really a question). I'm going to make a broad statement and then clarify below.

                                    High end stuff like sushi is quite good in NY, but LA has a much better breadth of japanese food and i happen to really like alot of that stuff since i guess when we are speaking about "japanese food" we're actually speaking about many different types of food. Many of which don't have a comparable in NY b/c it doesn't exist in NY

                                    to specifically answer the above:
                                    high end - fairpoint on urasawa w/ masa being the restaurant you should compare it to and since i havent eaten at masa, i dont have the basis to compare. i'm actually quite curious now that i think about it b/c you'd have be do alot to beat urasawa, but masa does have a wonderful reputation so i guess ill just have to see myself

                                    sushi - this is tricky b/c while yasuda / kuruma / 15 east would be top notch sushi places the list falls off after that. LA has alot of top notch sushi places (Zo, Mori, Sushi Sushi, Hiko, Doroko, Masu, Sushi Park, Asanebo etc etc etc maybe even Sasabune) and i think several of them (zo, mori, sushi sushi) are up to par with yasuda.

                                    ramen - maybe i'm somewhat of a hater here, but i'm just not that big a fan of ippudo, i think its my personal tastes (find their pork can be dry and i find the broth lacks good complexity). I think its "good" but definitely not near the "amazing" level that some people claim (most of my friends agree with me although ive got a couple detractors so its likely just a personal thing). Santouka is way better in my opinion like to the point that i don't think its comparable. Aside from Ippudo, the only other place i like in NYC is Setagaya, but again i think setagaya is "good" but not "great" and its also become very inconsistent. Since there is a santouka in NJ (ive never been) then i guess you're kind of at a draw there. I recently had a chance to try foo foo tei and i thought it was excellent albeit somewhat of a pain in the ass to get due to where it is located; definitely recommend though. there are obviously many other ramen places in LA, the one i've been meaning to try is ramen california

                                    kaiseki - hmm that's a fair point, i guess i hadn't really thought of that as sugiyama and kyo ya are both quite good

                                    sakagura - as for the sake, i dont know anywhere with that good of a sake selection although i'm less enthusiastic about their food, which while good has never wow'd me...dessert there is really good though, definitely a sleeper if you've never tried, really good

                                    yakitori - torihei easily beats both of them by long shot, i also do think shinsengumi is better than yakitori totto fyi (to be clear i usually eat at the one in fountain valley) although a few of the chicken yakitori are outstanding at yakitori totto

                                    soba - 15 east is quite good (i got to try the soba the other day); try ichimi-an in torrance

                                    izakaya - i added this one b/c although NY does have quite a few although none are great, they are all sort of just ehh. Furaibo, torihei (happens to be great), izakaya bincho all better than anything we have here

                                    Now we'll get into where there is no comparison in NY b/c it basically doesn't exist:
                                    tempura - komatsu, a tempura specialist...really good; doesnt exist here
                                    udon - sanuki no sato; i dont even think we really have a real udon specialist (dont say udon west they use frozen udon)
                                    okanomiyaki - gaja in lomita is awesome, a true specialist much better than anything we have here (don't say otofuku, no comparison)
                                    manju - sakura-ya in gardena; i know manju are more of a pastry type deal, but they're japanese and i grew up eating them and i think its amazing
                                    yakiniku - tsuruhashi....really good
                                    shabu shabu - already spoke about

                                    NYAngeleno - if you haven't i highly suggest checking out the Southbay (torrance, gardena etc), i think the japanese food there is great and much more home-y generally. I'd start with Torihei (unbelievable). Here's my review:

                                    anyhow this is a long post and i guess we somewhat agree end of the day although we probably slightly favor one city vs the other for japanese (i prefer LA, you prefer NY)

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Thanks a lot for the post and the list of restaurants. I basically agree with you - NY has some amazing restaurants at the extremes, but you'll be paying $$$. And it sounds like LA has great quality and quantity, especially for places you can go to more than once every blue moon.

                                      I think we have pretty similar tastes, based on the NY restaurants, so I'm definitely excited to check out the LA recs. I'm visiting LA in a couple weeks, and my sister lives in Redondo Beach, so I'll have to gear up for a Japanese food fest in the Torrance/Gardena area.

                                      1. re: NYAngeleno

                                        yeah redondo is very convienent to go to south bay places

                                        take a look at that blog i posted earlier from ExileKiss, he does a great job covering a lot of the good japanese restaurants

                                        also, check out yelp and search around gardena / torrance / lomita and you'll find quite a bit. I heard Mushi is excellent, but i haven't had a chance to try and there is a wagyu beef place that Exilekiss goes to that looks awesome. Really recommend torihei, one of the best japanese places ive been to in US in any city; not sure how adventerous you are, but get the special heart yakitori...unbelievable (have to get there early as they run out early), also make a reservation if you go, i went there and got screwed once b/c i didnt have a res (2 hour wait and i didnt want to make my family wait) and had a disappointing meal at azuma (


                                        love to hear how it goes

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          what category you omitted is tonkatsu. while katsuhama in nyc is not great tonkatsu like anything in japan (i only tried maison in harajuku), it's so much better than your typical tonkatsu in the states that it should be recognized. my analog would be in'n'out to mcdonalds. anyway, i don't know the equivalent tonkatsu place in la

                                          and btw, exile kiss is really spot on with his reviews in japan, so i'd trust his opinions on food in la. i ate at many of the same places as he did in tokyo in 2008 (mizutani, ryugin, menya kissou) and they were truly amazing places.

                                          1. re: fulminating

                                            fair point, i forgot tonkatsu and curry

                                            LA has tonkatsu places although i haven't tried most of them to be honest (my time is limited when i'm at home although i really love tonkatsu), the one place i know has good tonkatsu is Tamatebako in torrance

                                            as far as curry goes there aren't really any true curry houses in NYC although i do like katsuhama's curry. there are like a million curry houses in LA although its another dish i haven't gone out exploring for although i should b/c my grandmother loves it

                                              1. re: guttergourmet

                                                didnt see this thread for some time...nice discussion on LA vs NYC. personally, i thought LA has NYC beat. lau makes a great point...after you go through nyc's best sushi places, the next tier below cannot compete with la whatsoever. i had a simple sushi lunch at kanpai off sepulveda a few weeks back waiting for my flight to nyc and had such an exceptional selection of fish...if it was in nyc, the place would be totally hyped up.

                                                ive been to zo recently and thought yasuda was better...just in terms of preparations and selection and price.

                                                if yr in redondo...definitely check out izakaya bincho at the piers...awesome little joint...great fried chicken.

                                                1. re: sam1

                                                  that is fair, the bench is MUCH deeper in LA. i know semi-neighborhood sushi places in orange county that are better than the 2nd tier NY sushi places

                                                  NYAngeleno - sorry earlier i re-read my post and i realized i typed mushi, that was a typo, the restaurant is called's yelp link fyi

                                              2. re: Lau


                                                214 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

                                        2. re: Lau

                                          Lau you wrote: "i'm actually quite curious now that i think about it b/c you'd have be do alot to beat urasawa"

                                          Don't know if you are aware but Urasawa used to be Masa's sous chef. When Masa left LA Urasawa took over his place. See:

                                          If you think Urasawa is great, then imagine what his mentor's place must be like. No sushi place in NYC equals Masa. period. If you go, ask at the time of your reservation to be seated in front of Masa himself. His knifework is without parallel. In any case, sit at the bar, not at the tables (of course).

                                          1. re: chickenluv

                                            i did not know that although i do remember when masa was in LA. Although being the mentor doesn't necessarily mean you're better...yasuda worked at hatsuhana for a long time before he opened yasuda and while hatsuhana is quite good, its not nearly as good as yasuda

                                            that said i've never heard anything but amazing things about masa, so i very much look forward to trying it....just trying to justify dropping $1,000 if i take my gf there

                            2. re: stineh_8

                              I'm with you on that. I can't adjust to the NY model. Here it's something special I do once in the proverbial blue moon, whereas in LA, there are places priced such that one can go much more often. Ushi Wakamura is great, but it isn't a bargain. I find the idea of spending $150 for sushi rather gross, especially after living in the halcyon days of sushi in LA. "Teeny tiny" nails it on the portion size here, too. I have left after one order when I realized that was the game at some of these places. In LA, sushi chefs take pride in serving a fair portion, wheres in NY the game seems to be "let's pay the exorbitant rent by making each serving miniscule". I compensate for the paucity of modestly priced sushi in NY by eating sushi every other meal when visiting LA.

                              1. re: sing me a bar

                                surprisingly according to this bberg article LA actually has the most expensive sushi in the country