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best traditional omakase for $80-90?

t
thadj Apr 20, 2011 09:05 PM

I'm looking for a traditional sushi omakase experience, where I sit at the bar, tell the chef some general preferences and the chef paces the meal, piece-by-piece. I'm looking to spend in the neighborhood of ~$80 per person, so obviously I need to be able to specify a price range. We won't be drinking alcohol (grean tea or water only). i'm looking for sushi (and sashimi), not so much cooked foods. Some obvious things - looking for quality and variety of fish, quality of rice. We're not looking to get stuffed but also don't want to leave the restaurant hungry. ideally the restaurant would take reservations for sunday.

recommendations?

based on what i've read, it sounds like if I tried to do this as yasuda, 15 east or kuruma zushi, they would laugh at me. ushiwakamaru and kanoyama seem to come up as less pricey, although i've also heard kanoyama can be very expensive too and doesn't take weekend reservations. and i feel like every restaurant does things a little bit differently, so i'm kinda confused.

thanks in advance for your help!

  1. v
    villainx Apr 20, 2011 10:26 PM

    I'll just state first that I'm not a sushi expert, nor have i been to many of the high end places in NY. But at your price range, especially with no alcohol, you probably can get a decent omakase (per the way you described it) at any sushi place except for Masa. The Yasuda, 15 East, etc might not have as many pieces, but I'm thinking it might still be semi filling and worth it.

    At Ushiwakamaru, if you do the omakase set at the bar, it's going to be the experience you want, possible at a cheaper price point, or you can give your price limit and they'll accommodate. I've only been to Kanoyama once but that was table service, but I'm assuming the same thing. Or Sushi Asabu probably same thing. I'll also add Yuba in the EV as a candidate as they will probably dazzle you, even though there hasn't been a critical consensus about that place yet.

    There are also good omakase options at down market alternatives. One main difference is that at most "better" sushi places they will 1) have wider variety as in several kinds of similar fish (like varieties of tuna or uni or yellowtail and so forth) and 2) usually slop the appropriate amount of sauce for you (so that you don't have to blend your own soy and wasabi and dip accordingly). However and for example, I've been to and recommend Cotan in the EV as a very solid sushi and omakase option. It's going to be less expensive, and they won't have as wide as a variety for each fish and you'll likely have to sauce your own fish, but Cotan is amazingly personable and good quality. Similarly, there had been a lot of buzz in the past for the omakase at Inase Sushi in the UES, though I've never been.

    I guess my point is that go to the place you want, and at your price point, you won't have that much to worry about. At different places I've been there where it's the omakase set, true no limit omakase, and omakase where I gave them the price limit, and they've all been nice about it and don't think one way or another about it, while still providing wonderful piece by piece experience.

    The only other thing is that most good sushi places aren't open on Sundays, so ... that'll probably be the main filter for your search.

    -----
    Inase
    1586 1st Ave, New York, NY 10028

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

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

    Kanoyama
    175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Ushiwakamaru
    136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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

    Masa
    10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

    Cotan
    135 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Yuba
    105 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003

    1 Reply
    1. re: villainx
      k
      kathryn Apr 21, 2011 06:36 AM

      Went to Ushiwakarmu a few weeks ago and ordered a la carte for $80 (sashimi set for $36, an extra roll, a few extra pieces of nigiri). Their menu says omakase starts at $33 and goes up so I think $80 as a limit will go OK there. Their regular nigiri set is $35. No more flights of 5/10/15 pieces, sadly.

      Sushi Azabu serves one piece at a time regardless of omakase vs. the koi course set, IIRC. The omakase starts at $100 but the koi course set is only $35. I bet you could do that, and then order a la carte or ask the chef for recommendations for more.

      At Kanoyama, it's the fish of the day that'll get you:
      http://www.kanoyama.com/specials.php

      Make sure you don't get the omakase set, though, that's served all at once and costs $34. What you seek is their "super omakase" which is more open ended in terms of price but reports I've seen peg it usually at $150-200.

      Pricewise, Ushiwakamaru would be my pick but I've not been to Cotan, Yuba, or Inase.

      However, Azabu appears to be one of the few sushi places open on Sundays.
      http://greenwichgrill.com/sushiazabu/...

      BTW, if you're nervous about being full at any of these you can always order a roll, too.

      -----
      Kanoyama
      175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

    2. g
      gutsofsteel Apr 21, 2011 05:26 AM

      Nobody is going to laugh at you. It is perfectly fine to go to Yasuda or 15 East and specify an $80 budget. At Kuruma it doesn't make a lot of sense because it's so very expensive there. I would recommend 15 East. It's very good, and so pleasant too. But it's closed on Sundays. Yasuda is closed on Sundays too.

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

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: gutsofsteel
        n
        Nancy S. Apr 21, 2011 05:44 AM

        I second 15 East. You'll have a wonderful time and they will accommodate your price parameters.

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

        1. re: gutsofsteel
          l
          lucyj Apr 21, 2011 06:34 AM

          I've been told at Yasdua that they don't do the whole this is how much I want to spend thing, but that could be different now...

        2. b
          bigB123 Apr 21, 2011 08:14 AM

          Just go to SUSHI SEKI . Call ahead and request to sit at the sushi bar in front of Seki...

          2 Replies
          1. re: bigB123
            v
            villainx Apr 21, 2011 08:23 AM

            I was going to include Seki, Gari, and Sasabune, cause I'm sure they all accommodate at the original posters price point, but I'm not sure if the "best traditional" means a cleaner style of sushi or something more creative like what Seki, Gari, Sasabune does.

            -----
            Gari
            370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

            Sasabune
            401 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

            1. re: villainx
              g
              gutsofsteel Apr 21, 2011 08:33 AM

              Seki and Gari are out of the price range, and Sasabune is simply not very good plus they are inflexible.

              -----
              Gari
              370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

              Sasabune
              401 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

          2. t
            thadj Apr 21, 2011 06:54 PM

            Thanks for all the responses. This is very helpful. After reading all these threads about the high end places where people say things like "I dropped $200 without even trying" or "I love going to ____ but it's so expensive", I felt like some of these places were out of the price range. I had also heard conflicting reports about kanoyama's price range - sounds like it's more mid-range unless you go for omakase or the fish specials - all good things to know.

            so besides kuruma (or masa), all these places should be able to accomodate. azabu or cotan sound like front runners... or I go on a day other than Sunday and try yasuda, 15 east or ushiwaka maru (if i'm feeling hungrier). i'll let you guys know what happens in a few weeks.

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