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Ushiwakamaru, Kanoyama or another no-too-pricy, but good sushi place

Would love any reviews these or any other great sushi restaurants.

Looking for a non-to-high priced sushi place for a special evening out. We're going to Daniel the next night and don't want to break the bank both nights.

Thanks!

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Kanoyama
175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Ushiwakamaru
136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. I'm not a sushi expert but I thought Ushiwakamaru was wonderful, just a notch below Yasuda in quality (and price). I thought the sushi was very fresh and delicate and really enjoyed sampling the Japanese and Santa Barbara uni in consecutive bites.

    Another option, if your open to non-traditional sushi, is Gari.

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    Gari
    370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

    1. Sounds like a true omakase isn't in the cards and you want a fixed price nigiri set. You should be aware that both Ushi and Kanoyama serve their "omakase" deals in flights/sets, not one piece at a time. Ushiwakamaru serves the nigiri in sets of 5 pieces at a time. Kanoyama serves their nigiri all at once. If this isn't what you want, I'd choose Sushi Azabu instead where you can get a set where the sushi chef makes one piece at a time. If that's too expensive, then I would choose Ushiwakamaru because you can reserve on weekend nights there, whereas you can't for Kanoyama.

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      Kanoyama
      175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

      11 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        hi kathryn....i've had one-piece-at-a-time omakase every time i've been to Ushiwakamaru (maybe 20 times?) -- i've always just told the chef i wanted omakase and some of my preferences, and a by the piece omakase is what they served...(so i guess the menu has some other omakase options that involve sets/flights, but i've never really looked at the menu)...

        for the OP, i love Ushiwakamaru (though my last visit a couple weeks ago was merely good), but it's not cheap...i think my solo bill w/ tip and drinks was about 140...but i ate a lot...i've also been there about spent about 75 or 80/person

        1. re: Simon

          Yes, last time I checked the Ushiwakamaru menu had sets of 5, 10, 15 pieces for set prices. Which is what I assume the OP wanted since there was concern about price.

          1. re: Simon

            Question about Ushiwakamaru - I've heard great things so I just booked a reservation for four people two Fridays from now. I was asked whether we wanted to sit at the sushi bar or at a table. I know that the sushi bar is generally the better experience, but I thought it may be difficult to carry on a conversation with the rest of my dining mates while sitting linearly. I opted for the table.

            Did I make a mistake? Is a proper omakase experience at all possible tableside? I know that they offer the 5 or 10 piece "omakase," but it seems, based on the above, that those flights are not the one piece at a time true omakase experience. I would really appreciate if anyone has any insight on whether the sushi bar at Ushiwakamaru is a must.

            1. re: Rich D.

              Personally, I don't like sitting at the sushi bar with more than one other person - impossible to talk to each other. That being said, I don't go to sushi restaurants to sit at a table...I'd go somewhere else with a party of 4, and save Ushiwakamaru for when you're alone or with one other person, and then sit at the bar.

              1. re: Rich D.

                Ushiwakamaru has an elbow at the sushi bar that probably will help with the 4 people and conversation, so maybe you can request that.

                But yeah, omakase ain't for the table. And I'd say the bar is a must if what you want is to max out on variety and experience. Not saying it won't be still decent, but that's not exactly why you would go to a better sushi joint.

                1. re: villainx

                  i'd say sit at the bar w/ 4, but then get dessert/drinks elsewhere after...while, like gutsofsteel, i usually only go to a sushi bar solo or in a party of two, i'd say give it a shot...it'll be fun...

                  also, when i go to Ushi Wakamaru i usually ignore/return the menu and tell them i'd like an omakase that goes as follows: sashimi, followed by soup, followed by nigiri by the piece...just my personal preference...price has varied wildly on what this costs depending on how much eaten, what items, how many drinks, etc...anything from 60 to 150 person...

                  1. re: Simon

                    Done and done. You guys convinced me.

                    I just called and the woman who answered the phone switched us to the sushi bar. I suggested the "elbow" or corner of the bar as an ideal place for us, but she said that it was typically reserved for "friends of the restaurant." She told me that omakase is available at the regular dinner tables as well, but I responded by saying that I want a traditionally experience, akin to the one that Simon just described. She seemed pleased and said that they would accomodate us at the sushi bar (though I'm not sure if it will be in the corner or not!).

                    Any suggestions as to a particular dish or fish that I should request? Or perhaps I should really do as Simon says and just keep my mouth shut. Again, thanks for all the help guys!

                    1. re: Rich D.

                      hi Rich...what they have fish-wise will vary night to night and seasonally...i'd say let the chefs go to town but feel free to request fish/types-of-fish you like best and/or specify anything you don't want...in the past a few things that i think they do especially well:

                      shira ebi nigiri (tiny baby raw shrimp)...here is a yelp photo that came up when i googled "shira ebi" (amusingly i didn't google "Ushi Wakamaru" but that's what came up first):

                      http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/Ak-rnE...

                      i also like the madai nigiri they do w/ salt (you don't dip in shoyu, just eat as is)...the anago is also very good there...enjoy and report back on how it goes...

            2. re: kathryn

              I've had omakase at both places and it was served piece by piece. As far as I'm concerned, it's a draw between the two restaurants. I prefer sitting at the long counter at UW vs. the horrible dining room at Kanoyama- although I haven't dined in the newer annex area they've expanded to. But Kanoyama has more options at different price points.

              1. re: Silverjay

                Kanoyama has "Omakase Sushi (Today's best 8 kinds of Sushi and one Roll)" on the menu, which makes it confusing. I'm assuming you had the real omakase.

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                Kanoyama
                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: Silverjay

                  Although I have been a fan of Kanoyama, I hate their "new" annex -- it always seems to smell like cleaning products (although it never feels that clean).

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                  Kanoyama
                  175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              2. 15 East (slightly more expensive than Ushiwakaramu but way better - Ushi bored me both times I had omakase there) I know its not necessarily an inexpensive option, but its cheaper than the most expensive (Yasuda, Gari, etc) while still providing similar quality

                Plus the atmosphere of the sushi bar and the interaction with the chefs make it
                one of the better sushi "experiences" in the city. Engage Masato in conversation, ask questions and you will have a great meal while learning a lot as well.

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

                Gari
                370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                1. I'm rather fond of Sachiko's on Clinton - I think they've been batting above their price point for some time. While it's not, like, Jewel Bako or Yasuda or Gari or anything, it's always very solid and at a very good price. That said they're not PURE sushi (i.e. they have a full hot kitchen menu) if that's what you're looking for. But if you're looking to supplement your sushi with some composed dishes, they're a great option - their kitchen puts out some great (and unexpected, without being fusion-y) stuff.

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                  Sachiko's on Clinton
                  25 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                  1. Kanoyama can get very expensive if you don't watch what you order. Most of their special items are more than Yasuda or 15 East.

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

                    Kanoyama
                    175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Yaxpac

                      You can keep costs in line at Kanoyama by ordering the omakase set and then adding on some extra pieces if you wish.

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                      Kanoyama
                      175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      1. re: Yaxpac

                        My experience as well with Kanoyama. I much prefer 15 East, both in terms of the quality of the fish (the eel is especially fantastic at 15 East) and the quality of the rice. Also, 15 East has a better wine list, which appeals to me.

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

                        Kanoyama
                        175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003