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Sushiden – Another Good Midtown Sushi Restaurant

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  • Lau Sep 24, 2011 05:52 PM
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**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/09/sushi...

Sushiden has been around for a long time and I’ve been here before, but only for business dinners which don’t really allow you to fully enjoy the meal because you sit at a table not at the sushi bar and you end up ordering stuff to make sure everyone is okay with the food not what you would order on my own. However, even under those circumstances I remembered liking the food, so when my girlfriend and I decided to go see Cirque Du Soleil at Rockefeller Center, I decided it would be a good chance to try Sushiden again since it’s right next to Rockefeller (fyi, Sushiden has two locations on here and one on Madison).

The restaurant is fairly large with a sushi counter and small seating upfront and then a larger dining room in the back with some private dining rooms as well. The waitresses are dressed in kimonos and the sushi chefs in typical white chef’s gear with chef hats. The customer base was mainly Japanese and completely Japanese at the sushi bar. The service was good and attentive as to be expected at a good Japanese restaurant.

Here’s what we got:
- Sea Bream: This was from Japan. The fish was fresh and had a slight richness about it that was nice. For this piece the rice was served slightly warm and the chefs were discussing the rice for a while, so I believe the batch was slightly messed up b/c it was still too hot. They use a little more vinegar then I prefer, but the flavoring was still good. 7.75/10
- Horse Mackerel (Aji): This was from Japan. It was served with a little bit of minced scallions and horse radish. Horse mackerel is an oily and slightly fishy tasting fish. The version here was good. For this piece and the pieces to follow, the rice was normal temperature, so I’m pretty sure the rice was messed up on the first piece, the rice was much better when it was cooler. 8/10
- Jackfish: This was from Japan. It’s a fairly simple white that is fairly lean. It had good texture and was mild in flavor. Overall, it was a good piece of fish. 7.75/10
- Giant Sweet Shrimp: This was from Canada. This was quite good, the shrimp was sweet and it had a good soft texture. 8.25/10
- Japanese Skipjack: This was served with a little bit of minced scallions and horse radish. I believe skipjack is a type of tuna. It was a quite tender and mild flavored fish. 7.75/10
- Fresh Octopus with Salt: This was recommended by the chef as one of his favorites of the day. The octopus was excellent, it was very tender and the salt that was sprinkled on it really added an extra dimension to the flavor. This was very good and probably my overall favorite piece of sushi. 8.5/10
- Sakai Salmon: A nice piece of salmon that had good flavor and texture. 7.75/10
- Medium Fatty Toro: This was from Spain. It didn’t look all that pretty to be honest, but it tasted quite good. It was nicely fatty as toro always is and had a good rich flavor. 8/10
- Grilled Octopus Suction Cups: This was interesting as it was prepared on a skewer like a yakitori. The chef sprinkled a little bit of salt on it. It had a good grilled flavor to it and the octopus was still reasonably tender. 7.75/10
- Abalone: This was from Seattle. I’m not a fan of raw abalone as it is rather tasteless and somewhat hard. However, the version here was pretty decent as far as raw abalone goes although I’m still not a huge fan of it. 7.25/10
- Japanese Mackerel: This was quite good; it had to nice richness from being an oily fish without having an overly fishy flavor that bad mackerel can have. 8.25/10
- Uni: This was from San Diego. It was rich, creamy and still had like slightly briny seawater flavor that I love. 8.25/10
- Chopped Toro with Takuan (Pickled Daikon): This was a nice addition to the meal. The richness of the toro went well with the tartness of the takuan and the saltiness of the soy sauce. 8/10
- Anago: This was served two ways, half with salt and half with the sweet eel sauce. The flavor was good and the meat was nicely tender. 8/10
- Kumamoto Oyster: This was a simple oyster served with a ponzu sauce with scallions. The oyster was fresh and pretty meaty and ponzu sauce is a great sauce for an oyster. 7.75/10

I liked Sushiden and the sushi is quite good although I don’t think it makes my list of top tier in NY, which I reserve for Yasuda, 15 East and Kuruma. However, it is in that solid 2nd tier of sushi restaurants in NY.

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Sushiden
123 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

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  1. Hey Lau, do you mind my asking how much your meal cost without drinks? This place is really close to me. Now I'm interested in checking it out.

    I wonder if you've been to Shimizu. It's about 3 blocks west of Sushiden. I'm curious how they compare to each other.

    Thank you for the report.

    29 Replies
    1. re: Cheeryvisage

      its about the same price as other top sushi restaurants, so depending on how u eat i think u should be around $70-90 including tax and tip w/ no drinks

      ive never been to shimizu, so i cant really compare

      1. re: Lau

        I haven't spent that little for dinner at a good sushi place in years.

        Kuruma is hundreds, for example.

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          i believe from your previous posts that you eat quite a bit of sushi when you go

          i generally eat around 12 pieces +/-2 and maybe an appetizer

          kuruma is also very expensive, it costs about 2x most other places....when i ate there it costed me $250 per person and that was with no drinks

          1. re: Lau

            Sushiden is a chain owned by a company in Japan with a couple dozen branches, so they may be buying in scale from wholesalers around the world and therefore better able to offer lower prices...The Manhattan branches have a good reputation from Japanese commentators online.

            1. re: Silverjay

              oh interesting, i didnt know that

              1. re: Lau

                My wife just said she ate that branch you dined at once for lunch and enjoyed it, but she only had chirashi. That location is near JETRO and the U.S. headquarters of Japanese banks, etc....Their reputation in Japan is as a moderate priced place....BTW, Shimizu is a very good sushi place...and they have a nice shochu selection as well.

                -----
                Shimizu
                318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: Silverjay

                  interesting, ill have to try shimizu dont know anyone thats been there

                2. re: Lau

                  Yup. And you can even get decent sushi at Narita airport in Tokyo at the Sushi Den branch there. Many expat Japanese sushi connoisseurs I know tend to choose Sushi Den because of its reliable quality and moderate prices, when they don't want to splurge at the top tier places. The special chirashi sushi set is well known to be one of the better quality bargains for the amount of quality fish you get.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    yah i saw some people ordering that chirashi set, it looked good. i should probably go back and try it, its been a while since ive had a good chirashi

                    thats funny re: narita airport, i remember last time i was there on a layover, i ended up getting some food and it was surprisingly good especially considering it was in an airport, american airports could learn some lessons on food

              2. re: Lau

                you *have* dropped $250/pp and can laud this lineup ...

                (i did note your timeline)

                - Sea Bream

                - Horse Mackerel (Aji)

                - Jackfish:

                - Giant Sweet Shrimp:

                - Japanese Skipjack:

                - Fresh Octopus with Salt

                - Sakai Salmon

                - Medium Fatty Toro

                - Grilled Octopus Suction Cups

                - Abalone

                - Japanese Mackerel

                - Uni

                - Chopped Toro with Takuan

                - Anago

                - Kumamoto Oys

                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                  no we didnt drop that much, we actually dropped $187.87, i just checked my Amex statement, so thats about $94 per person.

                  However, I always over order if i intend to review a place for sushi, so people can get a better sense of how the sushi compares across a broader range of fish and seafood. If i were to go back I wouldn't have ordered this much, you could have eaten for much cheaper than i did

                  1. re: Lau

                    allow a few weeks ...
                    when a cold snap sets in there's always a chance to land some hira-saba.
                    have you given Shimizu a shot?
                    i prefer their hikari-mono.

                    -----
                    Shimizu
                    318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                      no i haven't been to shimuzu although im curious about it now b/c both you and silverjay are saying its good....so its probably next on my list of sushi places to review

                      1. re: Lau

                        +1 on Shimizu - both for quality and convenience of location it's been my go to sushiya since it opened. Looking forward to your review.

                        -----
                        Shimizu
                        318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                        1. re: snaporaz

                          definitely going to try it out.

              3. re: gutsofsteel

                my last sushi meal was at 15 East ( 2 people ) without drinks around $300. Kanoyama was the same. If you think about it 1 piece of good tuna can be $15, Uni from Hokkaido sometimes can be $20. Hundreds of dollars is the usual. I forgot what I spent at Sushiden last year, but the fish was very fresh, the sushi chef skillful, and if I remember correctly he used to be at Sushisay.

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

                Kanoyama
                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                Sushiden
                19 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  15 East (while one of my favorite places) is on the more expensive ends for sushi in the city when i go it usually ends up being like $115-120 per person.

                  also i don't ever remember spending $15 on 1 piece of tuna or $20 on 1 piece of uni anywhere in NY or the US for that matter. I've spent like $30 on uni before in LA but it was uni that was brought out in front of me like literally killed 2 seconds before I ate it and was still in the shell (amazing)

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

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    At Kanoyama it always ends up being near double what I spend at 15 East whenever I sit at the counter in front of Nobu san, like around 240-260 and at 15 East at most its like 120-140 eating at the counter.

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

                    Kanoyama
                    175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Nobu
                    105 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: Ricky

                      what do you think about kanoyama? ive been there before but its literally probably been like 4+ yrs since ive been there, ive been meaning to go back just haven't got around to it, i want to review it at some point

                      1. re: Lau

                        I used to like it a lot more but now for the price and service, its better spent at 15 East where you can have a better meal for a lot less. Like the wait service is either really awful or really excellent, no in between, like the american servers just dont seem to care, have idea what is being served, the Japanese servers there are the opposite.

                        On a recent visit, I called in and tried to reserve the counter, the girl on the phone didnt bother to tell me there are two counters now, one is regular service where you order off the regular menu, and a omakase counter. When I got there, I was notified of this. The same girl I spoke to told me I should have specified this on the phone, and just enjoy my meal at the regular counter and specify it next time. How was I supposed to know this? So I flagged down one of the Japanese wait staff, explained in my crappy Japanese that I had meant to reserve the omakase counter, who in their right mind makes a reservation at a japanese restaurant specifying the counter to order off the regular menu, and was immediately moved to the omakase counter.

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

                        1. re: Ricky

                          interesting that sounds like a ridiculous situation

                          you think the sushi is better at 15 East though right?

                          they had this one thing i always wanted to try where you scoop the tuna out directly from the bone, it was this special they had a while back

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

                          1. re: Lau

                            15 East is much much better. The rice, fish quality, cutting technique, desserts, wine\sake selection, and service is superior. Kanoyama has more unique fish, more seasonal japanese vegetable dishes, some good kaiseki style dishes. I noticed a slip in quality since they're more of a volume restaurant now, I remember when every order of anago used to be killed and cooked at the counter, the rice used to be better, and the head chef's cuts used to be alot cleaner.

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

                            Kanoyama
                            175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            1. re: Ricky

                              interesting, well i guess ill have a go at it anyway as im trying to cover every major sushi restaurant in NY on my blog over time.

                              15 East is a great restaurant, need to go back soon

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

                              1. re: Ricky

                                I didn't know that about Kanoyama in the past. What bothers me about the place is the carpeting and the plants in the dining room. That's just not right for a restaurant serving raw fish- I feel. So they what, just vacuum every night? I wish they went through a makeover. I haven't dined in the annex counter section, which is newer, looks nicer and cleaner. But bummer, no omakase service.

                                We did a super omakase (or whatever the premium level one is called) the last time we ate there. We weren't blown away. And the shoyu was lousy. The chef seemed almost apologetic in manner the entire time. This all said, they do have an excellent selection and as a second tier sushi place, it is good. Disappointing to hear how much the bill can add up. It seems as though there are enough pan-Japanese and gringo-esque offerings to subsidize a bit of loss leader pricing on the good stuff.

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  haha yah thats probably true its probably the crappiest looking restaurant of the top sushi restaurants in the city, 15 East is probably the best looking one. its kind of weird b/c the restaurant part of the restaurant seems to be a totally different crowd from the sushi bar if i remember right, so i think you're right about that, i dont feel like most of the other top sushi restaurants in the city have that aspect to them

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

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    The space is a little too boxy, but I like the clean, minimalist interior of Yasuda- especially along the counter. It reminds me of Japan.

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      ditto i like yasuda as well

                                      i actually like the dark tiny basement feel of sushi azabu...feels very intimate b/c its so small and quiet, just two sushi chefs and like 8-10 seats in front of the sushi bar

                                  2. re: Silverjay

                                    I dont mind the flower arrangements at Kanoyama, but yeah that carpeting has been there since the place was called Iso.

                                    15 East doesnt feel like a sushi bar with the subway tile and exposed stainless steel fridges. But I do like the decor.

                                    Jewel Bako is showing definite signs of age. The seats are worn out, really wobbly tables.

                                    1. re: Ricky

                                      i forgot about Ino, Ino was the first decent sushi restaurant i went to when i moved to NY for college

                2. Since it is located in midtown, I quite frequently visit Sushiden too! :)

                  -----
                  Sushiden
                  19 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kosmose7

                    yah i think im basically going to try to review every major sushi restaurant in the city for my blog, peeling through them one by one

                  2. Interesting comment on the skipjack, its actually one of the lowest quality tunas you can get. Well below toro or ahi

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: princeofpork

                      Skipjack is bonito, isn't it? Katsuo in Japanese. This is one of the most revered fish in Japanese cuisine. It's usually served with minced scallions and freshly grated ginger- which is what it looks like in the photo on Lau's blog- not horseradish as noted above. It's more popular as a sashimi fish, but it's no slouch as sushi either.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        actually you're right it was grated ginger, i dont know why wrote horseradish, i wrote the review too fast

                        1. re: Lau

                          BTW, I'm trying to figure out what "jackfish" is. It comes up as different things when I look it up and the photo is hard to identify. Also, I think you (or they) mean "sockeye" salmon. But I love the Japanification of it into "sakai" salmon!

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            my understanding was that it's a type of tuna, but i could be wrong...next time i go to sushi and they serve it to me im going to ask them if im right about that

                            haha yah i think thats what he meant too, but his english wasn't great, so i was just like okay sounds good

                            1. re: Silverjay

                              jackfish, i believe would be shima aji

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                http://www.kolisinn.net/market/fish.html

                                This page says jack fish is close to Shima Aji or Me Aji.

                                1. re: kosmose7

                                  I reiterate, it is shima aji. one of my favorite fish. It is more expensive than many other sashimi fish. Nothing to do with aji which is horse mackeral. Some call shima aji stripe jack fish.
                                  here is a link you might find interesting from Kanoyama, one of my favorite sushi restaurants. A description of many fish:
                                  http://kanoyama.com/fishfacts.php

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

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    Your link says that "jackfish" is ma-aji (true aji) not shima-aji (striped aji) which would in turn be called "striped jackfish". Lau describes what he ate as rather lean and shima-aji is quite fatty. Sounds like he ate ma-aji.

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      its not shima aji, shima aji is much more oily than what i ate

                                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Translation of the link:

                                      http://www.kolisinn.net/market/fish.html

                                      JACKFISH: It is a kind of what we call in Japan "aji", but it is neither "Ma Aji" nor "Muro Aji". It's close to "Shima Aji" or "Me Aji". It is rarely found at supermarkets in the continental United States, but frequently sold in Hawaii.

                                      1. re: kosmose7

                                        according to kanoyama's site sounds like its a term used for a big family of fish, so probably could be very different restaurant to restaurant, this kanoyama fish fact thing is cool

                                        http://www.kanoyama.com/fishfacts.php

                                        Jack Fish / Aji
                                        There are about 140 members of the Jack Fish family worldwide, with about 20 kinds in Japan alone. Ma-Aji, which our restaurant uses, is the most common and popular jack fish. It lives throughout Japan but it is especially abundant in southern part of the country. It can grow up to about 15 inches (40 cm). We get it directly from Japan every week.

                              2. re: Silverjay

                                the outside of bonita must be slightly seared. If it is not seared, be wary of where you are eating

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  After snooping around, it turns out that skipjack and bonito are similar but different fish. Skipjack are prevalent in U.S. waters. So the fact that it is described coming from Japan may mean it actually is bonito (katsuo).

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    Japanese katsuo is one of the types of fish I request the most, and I think the early spring catch is the most prized. It is normally served with the outside cooked (grilled or seared) and inside raw, sauced, and with scallions and grated ginger as mentioned above. Look up katsuo no tataki.
                                    What I find strange is that Lau found it a mild flavored fish. I always liked it for its flavor, and I also thought that in general sushi chefs only add things like chopped scallions etc. to fish that had strong flavors, like mackerel.

                                    1. re: fooder

                                      Yeah March is big katsuo season in Japan. As it is generally considered a stronger tasting fish, negi and ginger are added for the sashimi and sushi. You'll sometimes see raw slices of garlic as well in tataki preparations...in Japan at least.

                                      1. re: fooder

                                        i figured it would be a stronger flavored fish as well since you are correct that i generally only see them add chopped scallions etc to stuff like mackerel, but i honestly found it to be fairly mild flavored certainly much more mild than the mackerel i ate (im a big mackerel fan)

                                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Katsuo(bonito) goes bad really quickly like skate, which is why a lot of places sear it. I have had fresh katsuo in Japan and I think at 15 East where it wasnt seared.

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

                                      1. re: Ricky

                                        I used to call a day ahead to one of my regular restaurants in Tokyo and order fresh katsuo and fresh inada (very young yellowtail that spoils quickly). When I arrived, they'd prepare these two big heaping plates of sashimi piled with negi, etc., two dipping sauces, and my bottomless bottle-keep of shochu. God, those were the days.

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          that sounds awesome

                                        2. re: Ricky

                                          I was at Yasuda three weeks ago, and Mitsu started us with his bonito (non-seared). It was excellent.

                                  2. Just want to say I was at Sushiden last night. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do the omakase at the chef's counter because the occasion wasn't appropriate, so I got the chef's choice 9 piece sushi and 1 tuna roll set (the Kiri set). Really enjoyed the meal, great fish. I liked the restaurant's ambiance as well. The restaurant was bigger than it first appeared when I entered. It had an entire section of semi-private booths in the back, with two tables per booth.

                                    Lovely evening. Excellent food.

                                    Photos can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

                                    -----
                                    Sushiden
                                    123 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                      glad you enjoyed!

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        And this is what their chirashi sushi looks like for $42 + tax + gratuity.
                                        Pretty good quality, and I normally order this if I go there for a business lunch.

                                        -----
                                        Sushiden
                                        123 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

                                         
                                        1. re: kosmose7

                                          wow thats a huge set although i guess it is $42, but that looks great

                                          1. re: kosmose7

                                            can you name whats in that picture?

                                            1. re: princeofpork

                                              If I remember correctly, it's tuna, hamachi, sea bream, sweet shrimp, sea urchin, mackerel pike, scallop, denbu (steamed & powdered, pink-colored fish), braised shiitake mushroom, egg, fish cake, eel, and dakuan.

                                      2. Both Sushidens are solid. I used to go to the Eastside branch while Nakajima was there, then the Westside when the moved him over.

                                        The Westside lost a great asset when Chen went back to Japan. He was a master of shiny fish.

                                        The Eastside has some solid young chefs, Komatsu, Abe and Jiro? that learned a lot from Nakajima during his stint there.

                                        -----
                                        Sushiden
                                        19 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017