Real, athentic omakase sushi experience wanted near Westport, CT
This is probably going to get some people upset, but whatever...
We recently moved to Southport, CT, and are in dire need of sushi in the area. Of course, when we want the good stuff we'll just head to NYC, but we'd like to have somewhere around here for when we don't have time to do that.
Here's the thing: we're unabashed sushi snobs. We've been to the top places in Tokyo and in the U.S. When we eat in NYC we go to Sushi Yasuda, and sit at the bar and have Yasuda serve us omakase style, or we go to 15 East and do the same thing there.
We're fully aware we're not going to get anything like this near us in CT. What we're looking for is the closest thing. (If the closest thing isn't very good we just won't have sushi around here, but we have to give it a try).
We don't want "asian fusion", three varieties of miso cod, fried maki with cream cheese doused in mayo, etc... we want somewhere where we can sit down at the sushi bar and have a couple of pieces served at a time of high-quality nigiri, preferably made w/ real wasabi, with attention paid to the quality of the rice, by someone with knife skills.
Has anyone had something like this within, say, a 30 minute drive from Westport?
Thanks for all the very helpful replies!
Since posting we've been to Kotobuki in Stamford and Kira in Greenwich. Both were not bad at all. The quality of the fish and the rice at Kira was a notch above Kotobuki's, though Kira did make the fatal mistake of serving us a roll involving cream cheese, despite the fact that we ordered omakase and specified "mostly nigii" (which I thought would suggest that any rolls should be in the more traditional vein). Being open-minded, we tried the maki in question, with not so great results -- my wife won't stop talking about the cream cheese incident of April 2010.
The thing is, the nigiri itself at Kira was pretty darn good for outside of a big city. The selection was pretty limited, though. It seemed like most of the chefs were occupied with take-out orders and colorful rolls involving cream cheese, and we couldn't communicate with the chefs directly (we had to go via the waitress), which was not ideal.
I'm intrigued by Nanase, perhaps that will be next.
Or Yasuda. :)
IMO Kira is by far the best in FFD county. I try to avoid the usual westernized roll stuff and stick with the nigri or sashimi. I rate the quality of the fish quite highly particularly the toro, the king salmon, the unagi and the hamachi.
I would suggest you stick with Kira and avoid any of the others around here. Never been to nanase so look forward to your report. Thanks.
I wholeheartedly endorse the above reference to Nanase.
It is at the edge of your 30min drive radius, but it's an amazing experience, and the kinds of things you were referencing in your original post will be found in spades at Nanase. It's a tiny place, and you will definitely be getting the attention of the master sushi chef there, because there are no other chefs. It's just him, his wife, and 1-2 folks that clear the tables and serve.
It's expensive, but it's an incredible experience.
So we tried Sushi Nanase. It was very good! Though in terms of the sushi itself a bit disappointing.
The non-sushi dishes were excellent, if not terribly unique. The sushi itself, though, while tasty, was actually quite embellished, and too much so, we thought. It was actually the least traditional nigiri out of Kotobuki, Kira, and Nanase! The fish seemed like it was of high quality, but the garnishes were, we thought, overpowering. And we didn't love the rice.
it was quite expensive. Given the drive from Southport, and the price, it's going to be virtually impossible to justify going there vs. nyc.
The chef was very nice. Though there was a funny incident -- one of the courses was an excellent plate of several small bites, and one of them was a small sphere made out of botan ebi. Of course, I popped mine in my mouth in one bite. When my wife was about to do the same, the chef admonished her, saying that the sphere was actually composed out of six small pieces of shrimp which he had painstakingly assembled in the sphere, and that she was to separate the sphere into its component parts, and eat them separately. He then more or less started to give us instructions as to how to eat and enjoy Japanese food generally.
Needless to say, the food was unfortunately not on a high enough level to justify this sort of attitude. :)
15 East in NYC is one of my favorite restaurants and I can likely out-snob you, so no worries..seriously :)
If you can't get into the city, there is some decent sushi to be had in FC. Here are places I like:
Matsu is Westport is actually quite good (no, it's not 15 East, but will give you your fix and they deliver)
Fin in Fairfield is fresh and very good as well.
Kazu & Wasabi Chi in Norwalk are also worth a try.
Kira Sushi in Greenwich is a bit far, but has good quality fish
I would stay very far away from Sakura, Tengda, and Wild Rice
It's pretty much a sushi wasteland here, if you are lucky, you'll get good fish.
I gave up on Sakura 25 years ago when the Hamachi was soft & watery - on 2 separate occasions.
You'll have to go to White Plains -
522 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605-2002
Get reservations! The place is small 5 counter seats 5 tables or so and is next to an Oriental [Japanese] Market.
When I first walked in the hostess said that there was a $30 minimum for sushi - no problem!
The fish was fabulous, limited selection, but all top notch!
Good selections of saki by the glass/carafe.
For omikase dinner, you need to make a reservation so the chef can acquire the ingredients.
Other than that, I can recommend
Hajime Japanese Restaurant
267 Halstead Avenue
Harrison, NY 10528-3653
Just about as good, but more selection. Until you get to know the chef, the Gaijin will be served by number 2 chef. Quite acceptable in my view.
Hajime has been there over 15 years.
There may be a place in Branford I heard rumors about, but I've never checked it out - not with Le Petit Cafe nearby.
There was a place on Black Rock Turnpike I was ready to check, but the building it was in had a major fire & has not reopened yet.
I'm still in mourning over the closing of Omasa in Hartsdale & the parting of ways of my 2 friends and owners Mariko & Steve. Hopefully Steve is back in his beloved Okinawa & Mary is giving backrubs to her customers.
Le Petit Cafe
225 Montowese St Ste 7, Branford, CT 06405
unfortunately Fairfield County has no good sushi.
We do have some solid food spots...but when it comes to sushi/asian in general..we kinda suck. Don't even try Matsu or Sakura for sushi. In my opinion they just aren't worth it. Sakura is fun for family/kids with the hibachi and the food isn't terrible in general.
231 Wickenden St, Providence, RI 02903
Sadly I would recommend that you don't eat sushi in the area. There is nothing here that compares to what you are accustomed to. We live in Westport, do the occasional Sakura and Matsu Sushi...it's decent, but not the quality of fish that you get at the top places.
We just came back from Boston last night, went to O Ya, sat at the sushi bar and had about 20 courses of the most amazing nigiri and sashimi. And funny that you mention the rice, because I said to my husband that you can really tell when they know what they are doing when the rice under the sushi is so amazing. After that meal, it will be a long time until we can eat local sushi again!
If you do find anything worthy in the area, report back!