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Chef Yasuda is leaving Sushi Yasuda

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Apparently he's going back to Japan...

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

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  1. So are they going to change the name of the restaurant to "The Restaurant Formerly Known as Yasuda"?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      any idea of when this is happening?

      1. re: Yaxpac

        I have reservations there in two weeks. What has prompted him to leave? Will he be there through the end of the year?

    2. Who cares-doesn't take brains to plate raw fish-What's important is they keep supplying the best possible ingredients.

      1. how did you find this out? they're not closing the restaurant are they??

        36 Replies
        1. re: Lau

          http://mouthfulsfood.com/forums/index...

          1. re: Silverjay

            ah damn it, looks like im making a res at Yasuda asap

            1. re: Lau

              Personally, I don't care that he's leaving. I think the other chefs there are better anyway.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                well i dont think him leaving in and of itself is the end of the world, but i wonder when the chef-owner leaves what happens to the quality of the overall restaurant (fish selection, rice quality etc etc)

                1. re: Lau

                  I think that his partner is named Josh. I think that he would probably recruit someone else.

                  1. re: sushiman

                    eating in front of him next tues...will report back on what he says

                    1. re: Lau

                      He'll have no problem talking about himself. :-)

                    2. re: sushiman

                      Sushi Josh, got it

                      1. re: wew

                        Maybe they can make it Sushi Joshuda, for continuity's sake.

              2. re: Silverjay

                Devastating setback. This is in addition to recent news that Mori in LA (who I consider second only to Yasuda) is looking to sell his place. That leaves LA with no legitimate traditional high end sushi IMO. What's your rec for "best able to take over the void left by Yasuda" in NYC? 15 East?

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

                1. re: Porthos

                  I have always preferred 15 East over Yasuda.

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

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    Yes, I never understood nor agreed with your, sushiman's, and shoeman's opinion of Yasuda.

                    My tastes are more in line with Silverjay and Lau. Looking forward to their input.

                    Thanks for your reply though.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Kurumazushi and 15 East are your best bets, though I'll be interested to see how Sushi Yasuda fares in the coming months without Yasuda himself.

                      There's always Masa if you're looking for something similar to Urasawa.

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

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

                      Masa
                      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                      1. re: hcbk0702

                        btw I agree with hcbk0702

                        Kuruma: while i don't think they have the breadth of Yasuda's variety of fish, i actually think the general cuts of fish are slightly better at Kuruma although my issue with them is that they are literally 2x the price of Yasuda

                        15 East: I think 15 East is a great sushi place, i think yasuda is a bit better, but 15 East is still wonderful although slightly more expensive than Yasuda

                      2. re: Porthos

                        Some of the reasons why people don't like Yasuda as much is that they feel rushed (I'm sure this is not really news to many), and that the pacing of the meal to them is not in a relaxed manner. This is not just CH but also from reading a Taiwanese expat blogger who has been to most of the sushi places in NY and a few of the top kappo/sushi places in Taipei that are providing the Urasawa/Masa style of experience at a much lower cost.

                        Some folks like those who do the sushi conceriege / class / dining with Trevor Corson (who has a special relationship developed with Jewel Bako) feel the same way, with some even thinking JB's traditional nigiri surpasses the Yasuda and Ma$a experience (and perhaps part of that is also because JB seems more accomodating towards the sustainable fish movement, but that's entirely a personal matter), or the fact they can dine at JB for 3 hours and not feel rushed.

                        Either this rushing is on purpose, or the chef thinks the diner is extremely hungry.

                        I've never been to Yasuda but I have a lot of respect for the man, his profession, and what he's been doing. Perhaps his persistence, insistence on doing certain things, appears stubborn and interpreted as arrogance to those on the outside, but deep rooted within Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese culture, is this very insistence is what differentiates others, defines success, character, and approach/delivery/results, whether one agrees or not. Just sayin'.

                        1. re: K K

                          My one experience with Jewel Bako back in its prime left me starving after the meal and with a tab more than my average Yasuda tab. The fish was exellent, fresh, and the variety was impressive. The quality of the fish though and the rice was not on the level of Yasuda. Its is my understanding that Jewel Bako has fallen off since its prime 7-9 years ago. My average meals run 1.5 hours at Yasuda. It's not exactly rushing but it's not 3 hours either. I only go about once a year so I don't go enough for him to remember me or give me special treatment but he's friendly as hell every single time and I've never had scallop coral sushi anywhere else.

                          I think a lot of it has to do with certain diner's egos not being stroked but hey, I'm just sayin'.

                          -----
                          Jewel Bako
                          239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: Porthos

                            For me it's not about my ego - it's about being rushed, it's about not thinking the cutting and the rice are up to snuff, it's about being forced to talk to Yasuda about himself the whole time or risk "insulting" him....it's just not pleasant.

                            Contrast with the chef at 15 East, whom I find delightful to speak with, and always learn something from. But he doesn't need to monologue loudly at me for 90 minutes, make stupid jokes or tell me about his workout exercise regime, or shove 6 pieces of sushi in front of me every 5 minutes.

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

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              Well the chef at 15 East, Masato Shimizu certainly has an impressive resume...supposedly apprenticed at an old Tokyo Ginza sushi shop 助六, even worked at Jewel Bako before, and purportedly emulates the way Ono Jiro (of Sukiyabashi Jiro) does nigiri down to the way OJ does it according to his book, and also supposedly helps educate customers via some fish encylopedia (Porthos remember Howard at Kitsho in Cupertino CA did this before, if you had the chance to have him give you his volumes to look at fish). His Tamago-yaki looks like the sponge cake version (e.g. Urasawa's)and not dashimaki tamago (what's Yasuda's version like?)

                              This is not my perspective, but I'm just translating comments from a Taiwanese guy (who has even eaten at Masa) on this guy/his friend's blog just so that Yasuda fans (along with myself as a reader) get another perspective to some of the hate/dislike... do bear in mind the blogger does say Yasuda is the rice king and definitely the best rice in town.

                              "I'm very curious where Yasuda gets his pride/overconfidence from, the fact is that almost all of his fans are non Japanese, and his sushi is not traditional.
                              In fact his sushi is square-ish!"

                              "I find it funny that people on Yelp think Yasuda is the best legit sushi, and everything else in town is BS. But Masato-san himself even said that NY sushi overall is BS compared to Japan".

                              "Even though Yasuda is calimed to be the most authentic Edomae style sushi by people, but if you really look at it, other than pre-brushing nigiri with sauce/dashi shoyu/seasoning the way Yasuda constructs nigiri and his method of seasoning is strange, for example, molding uni to look like a golf ball, not traditional at all, seasoning flavors are either sour, salty, not Edo style at all"

                              "Yes, Yasuda is a great businessman first and foremost. Small and thin fish slices, unprorportioned ratios (fish to rice), but he does use up the entire fish.
                              The progression in which he serves meals is not smooth or right (does not elaborate further there)"

                              But yes, perhaps some egoes were at stake at some point.

                              1. re: K K

                                haha sushi reviewing has to be among the most pretentious of all foods reviewing. It involves alot of egos and certainly a lot of food snobbery (i just made that word up).

                                yasuda is very good, so is 15 east...if you forget all the pretentious stuff and just concentrate on how it tastes, i think you'd be very happy with the quality of the food.

                                I mean to say that sushi is better in Japan clearly is to be expected, however it doesn't mean that yasuda is not good (or 15 east). I would never expect to get the best of any type of given cuisine outside of the home country. For example while I don't think Cantoon Garden (south china garden) holds a candle to any good cantonese restaurant in HK, but that doesn't mean i don't think its still good.

                                1. re: Lau

                                  I also found it ironic that the blogger in a very self-important fashion criticizes Yasuda of being "overconfident".

                                  Also amusing was him/her making unsubstantiated claims that "almost all his fans are non Japanese". I'd like to see the spreadsheet that s/he used to calculate said demographic distribution.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    "Also amusing was him/her making unsubstantiated claims that "almost all his fans are non Japanese". I'd like to see the spreadsheet that s/he used to calculate said demographic distribution"

                                    i'm sure that's true. i'm also sure if you go to a french restaurant in japan most of the clientele is not french, but japanese

                                2. re: K K

                                  yep, this is true. masa's (shimizu) master trained with i believe both jiro and mizutani (the other 3 star michelin sushi restaurant in tokyo). mizutani had very nice things to say about masa's master when i ate at his restaurant 2 years ago.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    The comment that almost all his fans are non-Japanese is very true. Japanese do not eat there and the sushi chef community treats him like a pariah. Nobody likes him.

                                  2. re: gutsofsteel

                                    Wow. Clearly, you must've invited that sort of behavior. While he was friendly, and we had a few short conversations about the nigiri at hand, he never monologized at length about anything.

                                    I guess you feel lucky he's gonna be gone, and you won't have to put up with being 'forced' to talk with him.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      I've been requesting to be seated with a chef other than Yasuda himself for quite a while. I enjoy myself there when I'm seated in front of one of the other chefs.

                                    2. re: gutsofsteel

                                      to my knowledge, yasuda never forced anyone to talk to him. he's never interrupted a conversation i was having to insert himself. i happen to enjoy talking to him, but he never forced the issue in my experience

                                      he also did not speak about himself, but topics like mexican wrestiling, and (gasp) sushi

                                      h was also quite amenable when i saw someone ask him to slow the pace. unlike sasabune, where we asked, they smiled and said ok, and then continued the rapid pace

                                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                                        gos - I would truly love to hear your detailed criticism about his cutting and rice, especially rice, exactly what you find to be not "up to snuff" that hasn't been said by sushiman. Feel free to make comparison to other high-end sushi places you have been to outside of New York, e.g. Tokyo, Los Angeles, etc.

                                      2. re: Porthos

                                        If you didn't like Jewel Bako in it's prime you might not like 15 East. They sushi chef that worked ran JB is now at 15 East.

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

                                        Jewel Bako
                                        239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                                        1. re: reatard

                                          just to chime in, I think 15 East is better than Jewel Bako was at it's prime. And Jewel Bako has gone way downhill from it's prime.

                                      3. re: K K

                                        Yasuda's pacing is deliberate, at least that is what he said. He feels that speed is important in order to appreciate the dishes before reaching satiety, which I completely agree with.

                                        1. re: peppermonkey

                                          What utter b.s. With that pacing you can't savor anything.

                                          1. re: gutsofsteel

                                            I could, and I did. In fact, we each had about 9-10 pieces when we realized we were starting to get full. That is saying a lot if you're eating 'fast', b/c you tend to overeat doing that (I know, trust me '-)).

                                            I think we each had another piece or two b/c it was just so freaking awesome, and called it a day.

                                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                                              pacing at top places in Tokyo is very common

                                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                I don't know how fast he was serving you. But each piece is made to be one bite. I don't know how long it takes you to savor one bite. I think he started slowing down as we were getting deeper in the meal as well. Never felt rushed at all.

                                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                  no - with that pacing YOU couldn't savor anything. please do not speak for others

                                              2. re: K K

                                                I've never felt rushed there. Yasuda is my favorite special ocaission sushi place, although I've never tried 15 East or Kuruma. Masa is a different style than Yasuda, more flash.

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

                                                Masa
                                                10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                                    3. That's a bummer. We had the pleasure of sitting in front of him the last time we were there.

                                      That said, my first time was in front of someone else, and the sushi was just as great - the chef was less chatty, but the quality of the fish & rice is what really matters in the end. Here's hoping neither will change for the worse.

                                      1. I liked chatting with him, thought his rice was excellent.
                                        He'll be missed.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: steve h.

                                          He uses two varities of rice. One comes from Sacramento.

                                          1. re: shoeman

                                            Is this an issue? California short grain can be great.

                                        2. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/din...

                                          1. ill write a full review soon, but we went last night, sat in front of yasuda and it was excellent:
                                            - sushi: probably one of the better sushi meals i've had in a long time, all cuts were excellent and the rice was top notch as usual; did a great job on selection and i forgot that he is a bit better than most at tailoring toward what you like (while i've eaten at yasuda alot, i havent actually eaten in front of him in quite a while)
                                            - timing: was not rushed whatsoever, we stayed for 1.5 hours which is pretty long and longer than i normally eat at sushi restaurants for
                                            - yasuda: he was very nice and completely pleasant, he does like to chat more than other chefs, but i was perfectly fine with him though

                                            said he's leaving b/c he had to decide whether his daughter who is in jr high school would go to high school here or japan, so either leave now when he's 52 or leave in 4 yrs from now, decided to do it now b/c he currently works 6 days a week and get's in at 9am and leaves at 12am, so he wanted a change of pace. At his sushi restaurant he plans to only have an 8 seat bar and only do dinner, so he can have more of a life of work.

                                            He's also going to improve his sushi skills as tokyo is the highest competition in the world as far as sushi goes. He doesn't have a space locked up yet as he said it's tough to find space in the area of tokyo he wants to open a restaurant at. It's possible he could go work for someone there, but he's still planning on opening a place as of now.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Lau

                                              How's Yasuda going to survive in Tokyo where the competition is fierce? I like him but he definitely doesn't match up to the upper echelon in Japan. Not even close.

                                              In New York he has enjoyed so much success in large part due to all the Americans who love him, but in Tokyo that might not be possible.

                                            2. I'm a fan of Yasuda. He and my son are gym rats and are capable of talking a blue streak. I really like his sushi, really like his rice. I find the chef to be charming and exemplary in his craft. I never feel rushed.

                                              gos feels different and that's fine. gos doesn't like Yasuda and insists on sitting elsewhere at the bar. No worries. Gos' recidivism is only mildly interesting.

                                              I'll miss Yasuda. It will be interesting to see how the place does without his hand on the helm.

                                              1. Thank god he's leaving; he should have left 2 years ago. The quality has really suffered as the restaurant became a corporate expense lunch stop with tasteless fish acceptable to the lunch crowd. Hopefully, a better chef will revive the sushi shop.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: KTinNY

                                                  Don't you hate it when some obscure itamae goes mainstream, and the quality goes to shit.... but nobody but the people in the know realize that the fish is tasteless?

                                                  Oh, lunch crowd, you undiscerning, clueless bunch.

                                                2. Too bad,
                                                  As tourists, ate there with the wife a few months back, sat right in front of him.
                                                  Not rushed.
                                                  He spoke at length, not so much about himself, but more about sushi "myths" as well as the conditions of Canadian freshwater fishing. We also touched on subjects such as Mayan "bitter" diets, flattening of the earth at the poles, and the plight of dutch elm disease in the Americas.
                                                  Was his sushi square? Damned right, except for the scallop reproductive organs.
                                                  Rice (don't know if Sacramento or Lubbock strain) was spot on.
                                                  Will I miss him? Hell, I only visit NY 4-5 times a year. Maybe he'll open a Shake Shack in Japan...
                                                  Glad I met him, though.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: porker

                                                    Speaking to a reservationist earlier today, I hear his stand at the bar is unsurprisingly already booked up through the end of 2010. I'm guessing he might he even be working Mondays.

                                                    1. re: johannabanana

                                                      i haven't had a problem getting a seat in front of him at lunch. Called at 10am for the 12pm seating twice last week. He said he would be there until February.

                                                    2. re: porker

                                                      Rumor has it he is going to open an 8 seat sushi bar in Ueno, Japan

                                                    3. I will never go to Yasuda because I am not so into sushi to spend 100's of dollars on it. I can fill up on sushi that tastes great to me for maybe $25-30

                                                      1. Curious....who is the next best chef at Yasuda from the current lineup with the most experience (excluding the hand picked apprentice)?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: K K

                                                          hmm thats a good question, id be curious to hear others thoughts on this?

                                                          ive eaten in front of the hand picked dude a few times (although i didnt realize he was next in line) and i thought he was very good. i used to eat in front of watori alot, but he's not there anymore

                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                            I would say that after Mitsuru (the chosen successor)...the next best is Tatsu.

                                                        2. This is sad news. Hopefully, its just a changing of the guard. Ive sat in front of the other chefs and have had equally good sushi, just minus the Yasuda banter, which is a big part of the experience.

                                                          I have been to Japan and Hokkaido over 12 times. Yasuda's sushi is on par with the best "traditional" sushi I have had in Japan. And his eel pieces are by far the best I have ever had anywhere.

                                                          Although I have had some individual pieces that are better than what I have had at Yasuda, like the uni in Sapporo, the ise ebi shashimi on izu penisula, the fugu in Shinjuku, and the shirauo at Daiwa sushi in Tsukiji. But as far as a complete sushi meal goes, Yasuda is equal to anything I have had in Japan.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: AdamD

                                                            You’re talking about neta, while most here are discussing Yasuda’s skill as a chef. And you’ve name dropped cities, peninsula’s, and parts of town, but we’re just talking about a restaurant here. Anyway…..Not sure why Yasuda is such a polarizing figure with statements of such hyperbole both for and against him. If he picks the right location, I think he’ll do fine in Japan. Most new sushi shops that open tend to be corporate chains or small startups from former apprentices. Being an experienced business owner and front man will be an advantage for him.

                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                              several people compared his sushi to that in Japan-just saying that it does compare to the best I have had there, with a few specific exceptions that happen to be because of the local, superior neta

                                                              as to his skill as a chef, he is a true sushi master-once you reach a certain level, each chef has his idiosyncracies as to his method of preparing nigiri (i.e. size and the applicaiton of shoyu)
                                                              as to the restaurant, sitting at the sushi bar there, even with another chef is a great and delicious sushi experience
                                                              sitting at a table is not as satisfying IMHO

                                                              Ive heard from someone that recently spoke with Yasuda that he is planning to open an eight seat sushi bar in Ueno, Japan.

                                                              1. re: AdamD

                                                                Ueno is an old "shitamachi" neighborhood in eastern Tokyo. The plan was posted on Mouthfuls last month, linked above on 11/16 when this thread began.

                                                                1. re: Silverjay

                                                                  when i talked to him, he said it was up in the air, he wanted to open up an 8 seater, but finding a proper lease was extremely difficult in the area he wanted to be in b/c of the lack of availability of actual space. he was looking at something, but wasn't sure if it would actually go through or not.

                                                                  he said he could also possibly go to work for another restaurant if he doesn't find a proper space

                                                                  im going to write my review of my last meal with him this week

                                                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                                                    Yep. Old people district. I will have my family in Tokyo keep an eye out. Pandas and Yasuda in Japan. Sounds like a plan.

                                                                    1. re: AdamD

                                                                      Old people? Not really dude....But anyway, Ueno would be a good spot for Yasuda's character. Despite being from Chiba, he's at heart an "Edokko" rascal which is a good match for Ueno or Kanda or that type of hood.

                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                        my grandmother in law lives in Ueno in neighborhood that is all old people-they get some kind of special treatment as far as housing goes
                                                                        anyway...............

                                                                        1. re: AdamD

                                                                          K......Found out last night my grandfather in law living in Niigata pref. passed away. He was 101 yrs old. He was born in the Meiji Era. Never met him. Apparently, I wouldn't have been able to converse with him as they said his Niigata mountain accent was too strong. 101 yrs. I'm sure he ate many good meals. RIP.

                                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                                            Very sorry to hear that. Condolences. Amazing 101. Niigata is a beautiful place. My uncle in law has taken me there three times to go fishing in the mountain streams.

                                                                2. re: Silverjay

                                                                  He's talking about the international electrical testing association? ;-)

                                                              2. Very sad, really. Yasuda-san is a real character. Man slices like a surgeon, knows the emotions of his regulars, creates a feeling identical to being in Tokyo. I guess he misses home! Sushi Yasuda, I hope, will find a good chef to replace him. By the way, ever wonder why you never see a Japanese woman sushi chef? Japanese gourmands told me it's because "their hands are warmer than men's hands and the raw fish heats up." Sound sexist to you? Does to me.
                                                                www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: scotty27

                                                                  I am trying to interview him there in January!
                                                                  www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                  1. re: scotty27

                                                                    By the way, ever see sushi served ON a woman?
                                                                    http://www.foodmall.org/entry/body-su...

                                                                  2. here's my review of my last meal in front of yasuda..soo good

                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755547
                                                                    http://www.lauhound.com/2010/12/sushi...

                                                                    1. i, for one (and many, it seems), will miss chef yasuda immensely. he puts so much care into his sushi, he's a total character and he really gets to know his patrons. when i go (usually w my mom), he remembers our favorites (and her dislikes), which is really thoughtful.

                                                                      i sat with yasuda for dinner the night before the nytimes article came out, and he didn't even mention that he was leaving! i went for lunch 2 wks afterwards, and i sat w mitsuru (his replacement - yasuda was fully booked)... the sushi was definitely different (the cutting, the balance of fish to rice) but the quality of the fish was, of course, excellent as per usual. mitsuru is definitely not as chatty as chef yasuda, but i hope he will open up with time.

                                                                      my last supper w chef yasuda will be 1/18 (he is supposed to be leaving at the end of jan), which i'm sure will be bittersweet.

                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sister2

                                                                        Yasuda-san is well known as a mean son-of-a-bitch who abuses his staff and speaks rudely about his customers. That's one of the reasons why you don't see many Japanese there -- they can't stand to hear him abusing people, in Japanese, while this floats by all of the non-Japanese speakers in the restaurant. Imagine sitting in a restaurant where the owner is constantly brow-beating his staff. Would you want to dine there? Besides, he is pedantic and his technique and service is vastly overrated.

                                                                        1. re: Wa Shoku

                                                                          Sounds like many chef-owners, Japanese or otherwise...
                                                                          I liked his pedantic style and overated technique and service.

                                                                          1. re: Wa Shoku

                                                                            There`s always been Japanese patrons when I`ve visited Yasuda and I`ve overheard him speaking in very familiar terms with some of them who sit at the counter. My wife, who`s Japanese, finds him to be a real card. It`s true he is curt and sometimes verbally abusive. I`ve seen this myself and have read complaints on Japanese websites. But sorry, in Japan there are a SHIT LOAD of guys like this. It doesn`t deter people from eating at these restaurants nor people willing to work there. I`ve seen much worse. It`s accepted that some "shokunin" chefs will be like this. Shikata ga nai.

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                                              I agree about seeing many Japanese customers at the restaurant. I think Yasuda-san is very demanding, sure, and also that if you went into any number of restaurant kitchens you would hear the chefs tormenting cooks and servers and saying unbelievably unpleasant things about customers. It's stressful work; there are few if any consequences for rude behavior; chefs were trained that way so imitate it; the kitchens are "undersocialized"; etc. I don't think Yasuda-san is any different from any other big chef who expects a striving towards perfection on the part of staff. The difference here is that, as in any open kitchen, you hear and see the bad behavior.

                                                                              I'm supposed to interview him in a few weeks...if I can find him in Tokyo! Anyone know his whereabouts there?

                                                                              www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                              1. re: scotty27

                                                                                An early report is that he is taking over a small backalley joint in the Kabukicho district specializing in basashi and baniku.

                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                  Hmmm...so des ne, arigatoo gozeimasta!

                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                    You know, this is the second Japanese person to tell me about horsemeat: basashi and baniku. The sommelier at Brassie EN mentioned it, too. Hey, nothing against eating ponies--I had a horse jaw in Piedmont a few years back that was good--but raw horsemeat? I've eaten it in Japan and it was fine. But why would Yasuda-san go from fish to My Friend Flicka?
                                                                                    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                                    1. re: scotty27

                                                                                      I think its simply a question of economics. He's not deserting his sushi ways, just showcasing sakuraniku for perhaps higher markups and adding to his repertoire as it were.

                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                        That makes sense. A piece in yesterday's NYT Business section noted the ongoing decline in dining out in Japan. Certainly, when I'm there, which is often, things are more affordable than before.
                                                                                        www.shrinkintherkitchen.com

                                                                                      2. re: scotty27

                                                                                        I also had it in Japan, but I wasn't told until after I tried it. Its kind of a big deal to the Japanese. It definitely had a "horsey" flavor and smell to it, but it was fine, just as you say.

                                                                                        1. re: AdamD

                                                                                          I've had horse sashimi a couple of times in Japan and, washed down with sake, it tasted like good beef. Can't say I've got a craving though. In Italy, at a Slow Food event, it was horse maws in a dark sauce of drippings and flour. Two bottles of wine helped. Interestingly, the chef was Japanese on a stage/internship at the restaurant. No teeth in the maws.
                                                                                          www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                                  2. re: Silverjay

                                                                                    There is a chef in San Francisco, while is not in the league of Yasuda, behaves exactly as Wa Shoku and you describe and is probably the absolute best in terms of being the real deal in quality and spirit (and tradition). Some Japanese customers think he's the ganko oyaji (stubborn old man) type, yet WSJ ridiculously lumped him into the "sushi nazi / sushi bully" group (a few of those "trust me" type chefs in the article are rip off artists but not this guy).

                                                                                    This guy has been owning his own sushi only shop for 30 years, never served a single tempura, teriyaki, bowl of rice at all. It is him and his wife who man the floor with a hired waitress (over 50 I believe, sometimes mistakened to be his wife) In addition to being a shokunin, he calls all the shots, has full eye view of the floor, notices things even when he's loaded with orders (he is the only chef after all) and has no problem verbalizing his frustration in Japanese when the hired help is slow to react or notice (and we're only talking refilling hot tea for one instance). I have no idea what he said or yelled, and perhaps the chef is getting antsy when things are not going smoothly, and while that dampens the dining experience a bit, it certainly does not stop people from coming back. People who care more about the food and execution will just see this as side noise, accept it and eat there. Those who want a better experience (in terms of more interaction with the chef) will have to look for it elsewhere....so consider yourselves lucky that Yasuda is a hell of a lot more chatty than this chef in SF who doesn't say much even to his regulars... (this guy actually has a calligraphy scroll by Michiba Rokusaburo that says shogai hocho-nin or to that effect.... Lives and survives by the knife for life, so wicked

                                                                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cadiver/...

                                                                                    and in a sense the curtness, gruffness, or whatever it is called by the media and CH....comes with the territory, henced the mixed reviews on boards and other sites)

                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                      Yeah sure. There`s no shortage of these guys. These days, it doesn`t matter where you go. Tokyo, New York, Taipei, Neptune. There will always be pussies who will run to the internet to dry out their hankies because they don`t like how they were treated or what they experienced in front of these guys. Someone feels disrespected and they piss and moan on the internet. In my experience, every ballbreaking chef has his breaking point and it's usually related to being serious about food. These guys don`t want an omakase order dumped on their lap. They don`t remember everyone and don`t care to work like that. They like patrons who know the cuisine and take charge- with a little bit of guidance. Yasuda is like this. If you want a cuddly, serene, waterfalls in the background experience, go elsewhere. Yasuda he's got attitude. There's a lot of good chefs in Japan like this. They`re not for everyone. Shikata ga nai.

                                                                              2. I'm going for lunch on Tuesday and I'm going to order the omakase. Am I allowed to request anything? or is it entirely in the sushi chefs hands?
                                                                                Do any of you hounds have any other thoughts on must have menu items I should order on top of the omakase?
                                                                                My reservations are at the bar, should I call again and request to be seated in front of Yasuda or are there better sushi chefs there?

                                                                                49 Replies
                                                                                1. re: daffyduck

                                                                                  You must have the scallop guts (kochiko?), uni, and any of the more unusual fish - Tasmanian mackerel, New Zealand trout, etc. etc.

                                                                                  But it's all good, or rather, great.

                                                                                  1. re: daffyduck

                                                                                    - yes you can request, but generally if you don't have something specific you want i'd let them just go at it and if there is anything you don't like just tell them at the beginning and they won't give it to you. also if there is anything you love then let them know as well (i always get alot of eel when i go there, i highly suggest trying it they have the best unagi by a long shot in the city)
                                                                                    - their special appetizer menu changes very frequently, so it just depends what they have that day
                                                                                    - it is very unlikely you'll be able to get in front of yasuda as i bet he's completely booked at this point until he leaves. you could try his soon to be head sushi chef (see my post on yasuda with link to NYT article), he is good

                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                      okay, thanks i'll ask for Mitsuru Tamura and I definitely want to try scallop guys and unusual fish. I'll also request a lot of unagi. I'm going with a friend and we can eat a lot so it shouldn't be a problem. Is the omakase the same price for lunch as it is for dinner?

                                                                                      1. re: daffyduck

                                                                                        Don't request "a lot" of unagi. Just tell the chef that you'd like to be sure to include some. And true omakase doesn't have a pre-set price. You eat what the chef gives you until you've had enough - or you can tell the chef when you start what you'd like to spend.

                                                                                        You will be fine with any chef at the Yasuda counter.

                                                                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                          You might likely be told that they do not have an "omakase" menu. Before being all let-down, realize that they are saying that they don't have a set price as gutsofsteel mentions. They will gladly provide piece after piece until you're done!

                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                            agree with everything above

                                                                                            now that i think about it i never say i'm having the omakase, i just tell them i like everything

                                                                                          2. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                            thanks i'll probably just tell my sushi chef that my limit will be 120 dollars or something. though i could easily put away 20 pieces.

                                                                                          3. re: daffyduck

                                                                                            the scallop guts are out of season. they are excellent though.

                                                                                            if you are lucky see if he has any sweet shrimp head butter or the shrimp roe. both are excellent.

                                                                                            the abalone innards were pretty good too.

                                                                                            1. re: Yaxpac

                                                                                              If I recall correctly, and if we're talking about the same thing, I think Yasuda described it as scallop reproductive organs...

                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                yes, that is correct. also known as the coral.

                                                                                            2. re: daffyduck

                                                                                              If you are sitting at the sushi bar, you simply ask the chef to choose and mention if there is anything you specifically dont like. Like GOS said, just mention you want to try the uni and the unagi. The EBI is very simple, but delicious as well.

                                                                                          4. re: daffyduck

                                                                                            Yasuda-san always told me he never does omakase. He said this with a sly grin. Instead, he said to order two "courses," and then he suggested more. We usually ended with "rolls" of salmon skin and inappropriate jokes from him about his Israeli personal trainer as well as his stabs at speaking Yiddish...
                                                                                            www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                                            1. re: scotty27

                                                                                              scotty your post just makes me even more glad that's he's leaving. Buh-bye...

                                                                                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                Well, I hear ya. I figure you take the good with the bad.
                                                                                                I will admit that I was offended: I mean, OK, I look like an urban Jewish guy, but is that the basis for a relationship?
                                                                                                The fish, I told myself, the fish, the fish.
                                                                                                That compensated.
                                                                                                Somewhat.
                                                                                                Me?
                                                                                                I'll miss him.
                                                                                                www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                                                                                                1. re: scotty27

                                                                                                  I'll look forward to eating at Yasuda, occasionally, without his self-absorbed shtick.

                                                                                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                    Flying pig moment. The day he changes is the day you take of your pink skirt.

                                                                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                      What is it with this guy Yasuda and this worship? is he some kind of confessor and psychiatrist to people, or what? The second coming? The Messiah?

                                                                                                      I've been to Yasuda a number of times, both in front of him and in front of others, don't see what the big deal is. Highly competent sushi, perhaps, but very expensive for what you get. Any mid-range sushi shop in Tokyo will serve you Yasuda-san quality for half to a third the prize. A notch above Sushi Zanmai or Sushisei (widespread chains in Tokyo of decent go-to sushi) perhaps but nothing to write home about.

                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        Food "snobbery" is nothing more than having high standards. Which benefits us all.

                                                                                                        There are better quality options in NYC than Yasuda. Kurumazushi for example. 15 East another.

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

                                                                                                        Kurumazushi
                                                                                                        7 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                          Well, *of course*, we ALL have superduper high standards.

                                                                                                          And yet, I can think of many occasions where (specifically NYC) chowhounds disagree on restaurants and/or chefs. Convivio in particular comes to mind. But I have no interest in opening that lame can of worms again.

                                                                                                          I was mostly referring to the "well, it's not as great as sushi in Tokyo" sentiment, which for a lot of us simply is a moot point.

                                                                                                          It's like me saying you can't get spaetzle in NYC that are as good as in Germany.

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Convivio
                                                                                                          45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                            Unfortunately, what Uncle Yabai said about Tokyo was true! In addition to the price, the selection is more varied, especially in the areas of bi-valves shellfish and prawns. And they are much fresher as well.
                                                                                                            However, I must admit Yasuda-san's knife work is ultra fast and un-parallel!

                                                                                                        2. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                          i don;t worship him. not do i care if he speaks badly of his customers at the end of the day. i enjoy the fish, and ive always found him funny and personable to be. if after i go he has a laugh at my expense, which i doubt, it doesn;t effect me one whit. i'll miss his presence in NYC. i won't stay up all night crying though.

                                                                                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                            Strange my reply got deleted. I've had more "offensive" replies left alone.

                                                                                                            In any event - I'm genuinely surprised that Yasuda quality sushi is, according to you, available at chain restos in Tokyo at half or less of the price. I heard sushi was much more expensive in Tokyo.

                                                                                                            Well, it's likely I'll never find out for myself, anyway.

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              I'm a fan of Yasuda. His fish is very good, the rice is wonderful. I enjoy chatting with him. Manhattan is better with him at the bar.

                                                                                                              I'll miss him.

                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                Sushi can certainly be very expensive in Japan. But for what you pay at Yasuda, you can do much, much better in Japan. The stuff Yasuda doles out is good, solid, and competent. It is not anywhere near the kind of epicurean experience that can be had for the kind of money one drops at Yasuda.
                                                                                                                I would compare what Yasuda deals with to the honten or the shinkan at Sushisei, or perhaps the head office at Sushiko in Tsukiji, or Edogin. Solid and satisfying, and reasonably priced. One can come out of these places quite full for 4-5,000 yen.

                                                                                                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                                  I'll fly if you buy.

                                                                                                                  Until then, I am perfectly happy to eat the best sushi available here, to me, at a perfectly acceptable price, here, to me.

                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                    Then go to 15 East or Kuruma or Shinbashi (based on Sushiman's experiences at Shinbashi) or Seki.

                                                                                                                    Or maybe things will improve at Yasuda now that he's gone. I plan to try at some point.

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

                                                                                                                    Shinbashi
                                                                                                                    7 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                                      I haven't checked out Shinbashi, but 15 East strikes me as more expensive than Yasuda. Of course, I've only gone for lunch (and still ended up spending about $80/person, but that included everything.

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

                                                                                                                      Shinbashi
                                                                                                                      7 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                        a) you get what you pay for and

                                                                                                                        b) depends on what you eat and how much you eat

                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                          15 east is more expensive

                                                                                                                          if i dont order alcohol i usually end up spending:
                                                                                                                          - Yasuda: ~$100
                                                                                                                          - 15 East: ~$125
                                                                                                                          - Kuruma: $200+
                                                                                                                          - Shinbashi: never been

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                            Last time I went to Kuruma I spent $300 on lunch and didn't drink a lot. I always top $150 at Yasuda. It really depends on the eater.

                                                                                                                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                                              to give a little more color to my earlier comment, i generally eat in the 11-14 piece range depending on how hungry i am

                                                                                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                Amateur! (kidding, kidding)

                                                                                                                                I eat way more than that when I do the good sushi thing.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                  yep, that's about my limit, too. 14 might actually be pushing it. iirc, last time i had 10-12 pieces and was pretty satiated. tho i *wanted* to eat more!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                                    Yasuda is a better value and for pre-post meal drinks Sakagura for sake and Soba Totto for shochu are right across the street.

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    Sakagura
                                                                                                                                    211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                                    Soba Totto
                                                                                                                                    211 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                            2. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                                              Has anyone been to Shinbashi? I've seen only one person write about Shinbashi (other than sushiman, obviously) and the person wasn't impressed.

                                                                                                                              I do like 15 East very much - that'll probably be my go-to high-end sushi now.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                                        I`m trying to eschew hyperbole and saying he`s merely a notch above Zanmai is the hyperbole pendulum swinging the other way. He's not, nor pretends to be, on the highest levels of sushidom and I think his sushi is priced accordingly for NY. But he's more than merely not being a chain.

                                                                                                                        Most of the discussion is in regards to his counterside manner. It seems when dealing with him, many New Yorkers have developed skin as thin as nori.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                                                          All right, two notches. I just find all the swooning and the vapors over somebody with basic table stakes in the game of sushi quite funny. This isn't the Doyle Brunson of sushi we're talking about, it is just some guy with a decent outfit, not a culinary destination. Then again, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                                            Do you find the hyperboles about how much Yasuda sucks equally amusing and funny? I think that's the point of many posts defending Yasuda against posters who claim he sucks or is average in Japan or how you can get better for so much cheaper in Japan or how he has no Japanese patrons. These gross exaggerations are simply not true nor should they be thought of as credible just because someone has pulled a "J" card. I'm not saying he's the best in the world. But top 1 or 2 in NYC and in the US? Easy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                              Top 1 or 2 in NYC? Sure, up there with Kurumazushi and others like it. Top 1-2 in the US, sure, why not, put it up there with the best houses in LA or anywhere else. Completely agree. However, it seems to me that the home crowd of worshippers and rabid fanboys take it very personally when one makes the mention that they may be, perhaps, taking it a bit too far? I know, their *judgment* is being questioned, and that's what gets them on a roll.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Kurumazushi
                                                                                                                              7 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

                                                                                                                              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                                                The "home crowd of worshippers and rabid fanboys" exists in your head only.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                                                                          I absolutely agree with Uncle Yabai. Yasuda is fine and he's definitely one of the best in America -- but that's exactly it: we're talking about America. Go to Tokyo and you'll find many, many that are better at more reasonable price points.

                                                                                                                          Problem with this board is that most have not been to Japan or eaten at the good places so Yasuda is their only reference point. It's the same with Ippudo for ramen or Totto for yakitori - definitely good by any standard but nothing at all to write home about were they in Japan.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Ippudo
                                                                                                                          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                                                          1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                            I'll agree with you here about Yasuda and Ippudo, but not Totto. Some of the yakitori I have had there has been better than a lot of yakitori I've eaten in Japan over the last 20 years. The liver and bonchiri especially. The quality of their chicken, preparation and grilling is equal on many levels to what you get across the Pacific.

                                                                                                                            I am sorry to see Yasuda-san go though. He was definitely one of the best in NYC and he will be missed. I went to see him right before Christmas for one final meal and he made us a sushi feast we will not soon forget, pulling out all the stops with local and seasonal specialties even we had never seen. Looking forward to seeing what he does in Tokyo next!

                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                            Ippudo
                                                                                                                            65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                                                            1. re: CBCebulski

                                                                                                                              Ippudo is fast food compared to the best in Japan. Shinpuu in Hakata is the best in Japan, simply amazing and will ruin you for any other ramen.

                                                                                                                              If you like Totto, go to Tori Shin. TS is a whole other level.

                                                                                                                              Everyone know my feelings on Yasuda. There are far better sushi experiences to be had in NYC.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Ippudo
                                                                                                                              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                                                              1. re: sushiman

                                                                                                                                Agreed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sushiman

                                                                                                                                  Tried Tori Shin. Wasn't that impressed. Personally prefer Totto. But I guess that's a discussion for another board. As is our argument about where the best ramen in Japan is. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: CBCebulski

                                                                                                                                    Surprised to hear that. Did you sit with Ikedasan or one of the other chef's?

                                                                                                                              2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                                We're on Manhattan board - of course we're gonna discuss about what's best HERE. Of course most things aren't gonna be as good as they are in homeland, no matter what it is. Isn't that a given? Should every post include a disclaimer saying "it's not as good as it is in ___"? I don't need to have been to Ethiopia to say Zoma is the best Ethiopian restaurant in NYC (IMO, of course.)

                                                                                                                                I don't know what it is about sushi that brings out the snobbery in full force. It's not like having been to Japan and eating sushi there is some exclusive experience reserved for those in-the-know.

                                                                                                                                1. re: uwsister

                                                                                                                                  thanks uwsister, your first sentence is so spot on.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                                                                                                    Reminds me of the 1980's US-Japan trade war: since Japanese people have different stomachs, American rice cannot be imported into Japan. Because Japan has different snow, American ski equipment will not work there...

                                                                                                                2. Anyone know if he still plans to be back in New York the last two weeks of this month?

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: squid kun

                                                                                                                    He told my boyfriend and I at the sushi bar on December 23rd that he would be around until the very end of February.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ShanDeez

                                                                                                                      Thanks!

                                                                                                                  2. Those that hate, hate, whether their hatred is rational or applicable to others is a personal matter.

                                                                                                                    I have eaten sushi served by Yasuda-san since his Hatsuhana days. I have also eaten sushi in Tokyo and at many excellent restaurants in the US and other countries. If it helps others understand my perspective, my favorite restaurants are Masa and Matsuhisa where I have eaten hundreds of times, but I can still find pleasure at a place like Iso-Bune in San Francisco.

                                                                                                                    Yasuda-san is great and eating with him has been consistently one of my top ten favorite sushi options for years. Not long ago he prepared a toro tasting for me with 14 different fish and cuts to compare. I thought this was one of the best experiences I ever had at a sushi bar.

                                                                                                                    To criticize him for his personality is like criticizing a surgeon for his sense of humor. I don't find his personality in any way offensive to me, but it is his skill at what he does that is important to me. I'll eat with Nozawa-san if I am in the mood for his food.

                                                                                                                    The rabid criticism of some on this board is humorous and silly to me. Stating that he talks too much (he's the name on the door, many people would be upset if he didn't) or that he has attitude (he's very opinionated about what he does and he should be - isn't that what makes many artists great? It's his life work, after all) or that he has very few Japanese customers (not true, but I also note that you can find more Japanese customers in some of the lower quality, cheaper restaurants) or that his style doesn't conform exactly to a perceived style (gee, this piece isn't the precise shape I expected, bad, bad sushi) is all absurd to me.

                                                                                                                    He is not perfect, whatever that means. There is some variance in quality and texture and balance and various other characteristics that go into the making of sushi, but it still comes down to a question of individual preferences and for me, he is still in the top 10.

                                                                                                                    His attention to detail, especially regarding his rice, is unusually thorough and personal. If you don't like the product he offers, it may be because you and he differ in your concepts of what great sushi is all about. The selection of the rice, the age, the mixture, the preparation - it is unique in my experience and very good to my taste. I don't judge him relative to any historic standards, I judge him by how much I enjoy his food, and that puts him right up there amongst the top chefs. I've enjoyed his sushi for years and I will miss him. Hopefully I'll be visiting him in Japan soon.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Buzzy2

                                                                                                                      You have every right to like him and his food, just as others have every right not to.

                                                                                                                      The rabid worship of him on this board is just as silly as the "rabid criticisim."

                                                                                                                    2. We had dinner at Sushi Yasuda last night, the first time we've been there since Yasuda left. What a horrible disappointment. The quality of the fish AND the rice is no longer perfect. I have eaten there at least 40 times over the last couple of years and each visit was a sublime experience. Not any more. The wait staff flubbed orders. The rice was mushy. Some of the sushi (oyster and uni) was past it's prime. And none of it was up to the quality that Yasuda enforced during his tenure. I might give it one more shot in about six months to see if they get their act together. Then again, I might not.

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

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: JakeFantom

                                                                                                                        I don't think he's gone yet.

                                                                                                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                                          when i had lunch there on Tuesday they said he was in Japan, but hasn't moved there and should be back sometime soon. i forgot when.

                                                                                                                      2. i havent been to yasuda in a few years...with hiro and yasuda gone, do you have any recommendations for which sushi chef to sit with?

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: sam1

                                                                                                                          Mitsu definitely. That is who Yasuda personally chose to take his spot.
                                                                                                                          We sat with him recently and it was phenomenal.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Heeney

                                                                                                                            yah i like mitsuru as well

                                                                                                                          2. re: sam1

                                                                                                                            I've had great meals with Tatsu, post-Yasuda.