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Omakase recommendation: Yasuda, Brushstroke or Azabu?

I'm taking my husband for our first Omakase ever. I've heard great things about Sushi Yasuda, Brushstroke and Sushi Azabu. Which would be the best experience? I'd like a nice setting and obviously fresh delicious fish. Any advice would be great. Thanks!

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  1. There's a tiny bit of "apples and organges" here. Yasuda and Sushi Azabu are sushi places, where you'd get an omakase consisting entirely of sashimi and sushi.

    Brushstroke is kaiseki, which is a whole different thing. There, you'd get one course of sushi in the middle of a succession of cooked dishes. (To make it more confusing, there is a sushi bar inside Brushstroke called Ichimura where you could get an omakase similar to Yasuda's and Azabu's.)

    Assuming you're looking for a sushi/sashimi omakase and not a kaiseki, I think Yasuda is your choice.

    If you want a kaiseki, I think Brushstroke is very good (generally underrated, even). The consensus favorite for NYC kaiseki is, of course, Kyo Ya.

    51 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater

      I don't see a website for Kyo Ya. Do u have to call for reservations? Also do you have an idea of pricing? I'm coming to nyc in the summer for the first time and really want to try kaiseki.

      1. re: muushupork

        Yes, call for reservations. The kaiseki is 95 and up. They also serve a la carte.

        1. re: muushupork

          Kyo Ya has never had a website, as far as I know.

        2. re: Sneakeater

          Thanks @Sneakeater, I didn't realize that Brushstroke was a kaiseki. Definitely looking for an omakase experience.

          1. re: kam0424

            I might not be understanding something here but while Brushstroke is indeed kaiseki, the sushi bar in the back is not and in fact, we had one of the best omakase meals of our lives there. I vote for either the sushi bar at Brushstroke (not the main dining room which serves a kaiseki meal) or 15 East. Both have superb sushi chefs which should be pretty good at crafting a meal that you enjoy whether you have eaten sushi before or not. Enjoy!

            1. re: JeremyEG

              Does ANYBODY read to the end of the parenthetical at the end of my paragraph that begins "Brushstroke is kaiseki . . . ."?????????????????????????????????

              1. re: Sneakeater

                Hey Snakeeater,
                Happy New Year. The Brushstroke dining room in indeed Kaiseki and I hope people got that from your post! The sushi bar is not and in fact, serves amazing Omakase meals. I would check out Brushstroke for Kaiseku and the sushi bar for Omakase and I hope others do the same.

                1. re: JeremyEG

                  I think Snakeater is referring to the fact that he mentioned both the kaiseki and sushi bar portions of Brushstroke in his original post.

                  Despite this, multiple people have "corrected" him, pointing out that Brushstroke also has a sushi counter.

          2. re: Sneakeater

            Also there's Ichimura at Brushstroke, which is an omakase sushi… I've never been there though.

            I don't think you can go wrong with any of these.

            1. re: Sneakeater

              Chef Ichimura's counter at Brushstroke is a sushi restaurant within Brushstroke. He will tailor the meal to whatever you want- just sushi, sushi/sashimi, some cooked dishes or he will just present you with a meal (omakase).Reservations are hard to get though. The other options are Yasuda, 15 East, Kanoyama, Shimizu. A few others. They will all abide by whatever format you want.

              1. re: Silverjay

                Given the recent snowfall, where would you go for oden?

                1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                  We usually do oden at home. But Yopparai has a gurgling oden bath set up on the bar. That would be nice place to huddle up, with a glass or two of sake. We had a couple items last summer and they were good.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    The chef at Yopparai, says the base of his oden has been aged since he opened, he keeps adding to the original bath. The taste is excellent, perhaps the best dish there. I recently went for the first time, on Silverjay recommendation,His sashimi quality was surpringly very good, the 4 kinds of tuna for $50 was high quality, the grilled dishes were all excellent, and I particularly liked the shiokara and the mentaiko. The chawanmushi, although had a good amount of ingredients i.e. gingko, mushroom, seafood, mitsuba, was lacking in the dashi flavor. The sake selection was good.
                    The price was very high, about $150 pp.
                    The service was exceptional.

              2. re: Sneakeater

                Did anyone bother to read to the end of my paragraph beginning "Brushstroke is a kaiseki . . . . "?

                1. re: Sneakeater

                  well I just edited my entire post, as I did not read Sneakeater's last sentence where he/she mentioned Ichimura. So since I can't have a blank post, I will say that since the OP never had omakase before perhaps they are not very experienced sushi eaters. In that case i would recommend Sushi of Gari Tribeca. The head chef is at that branch now. It might be more palatable to the OP , eating the modern style sushi omakase. For myself 15 East is the #1 choice.
                  Now that I read all of the posts. IMO, 15 East is far superior to Yasuda. I do not like the management's attitude at Yasuda , and the fish is not all that good. ( except for the eel , which is exceptional).
                  Triple Edit: I totally agree with Leximore, about Ichimura. I think it will be too "advanced" if you will, for someone not so sushi experienced. I happen to love fish guts, but that is not something someone likes immediately. I will reiterate, Gari of Tribeca probably will be most rewarding for the OP

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Sushi of Gari isn't in the same league as these other places. The idea of someone not being advanced enough to eat quality sushi is snobbish horseshit. One of the best things about these guys like Ichimura, 15 East, etc. is that they are there to please and happy to ramp a newcomer into the experience.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Its nothing about the same league. It's about what people like who are new at eating sushi. It is not snobbish, and I am sure there are some people that might like shiokara early on, but not usually. . I have introduced many people to eating sushi. They for the most part start out not wanting any of the "fishy" fish. They even like cooked type rolls. I used to have a sushi chef friend who would roll up hamachi and slice it and fry it. It's not really sushi but was enjoyed by people new to sushi. I once took some people to Jewel Bako, with Shimizu-san as sushi chef. The people did not like any of the shiny fish,,,they were disappointed that they could not get a spicy tuna roll.I usually respect your opinion very much, but in the case of new comers to sushi , i have to say you are quite mistaken. Sushi Gari, although I only eat there very occasionally, does have good quality fish. His bastardized version of traditional sushi is a big hit with Americans who are new at sushi. He bombed out in Tokyo, which is understandable. It is not the kind of thing one wants to eat often. I know Masa very well, and he is a great guide and friend. I know Ichimura only since he opened, and he is an extremely nice man and skilled chef. But I do not think his dishes are for everyone.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        It's simple. Make them watch the Jiro film. If they react well to all of the courses, then they're good to go. If not, take them to Gari.

                        1. re: calf

                          LOL you're probably right. Also, if they watch it and they like it, then they should go to 15 East. Masato's master is a good friend of Jiro. Masa was on a radio interview about Jiro.

                        2. re: foodwhisperer

                          Kam0424's original research has already led her to Brushstroke, Yasuda, and Azabu- three standard sushi restaurants. Why would you recommend a divergence of that? Shiokara is a little fermented hor d'oeuvre that many Japanese can't stand. And everyone has their own preferences regarding which fish they like or are interested in. One of the points of sitting at the counter and interacting with one of these guys, as opposed to ordering spicy tuna rolls at a table, is to learn and find out what you like. It's completely もったいない to steer someone away from the sushi light when they've come on here with legitimate interest and there are actually places in this city that are up to it.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            You are perhaps correct in that I am underestimating the OP's experience in eating sushi. Perhaps, because the OP has never had omakase I assumed her and her husband haven't eaten sushi too many times. But the fact that they researched this on CH maybe means they wanted to move up the sushi scale to higher quality sushi than they have had. Perhaps I am thinking more of American people who never ate sushi. So, if in fact I am underestimating their experience , I apologize for that.
                            That being said, sushi/sashimi I think is different than ice cream, cookies, or other foods. Sushi is more about subtleties and consistency and appreciation of the skill involved . I think, if you take an American who never ate sushi, and never had a cookie. If you give him a cookie. chances are he will like it. Chances are if you give him a piece of saba sashimi, their instincts will steer them away from it.
                            I do believe, people growing up in the 90's and 2000's have much more exposure to "raw fish",, Even French, Italian, American, etc restaurants serve some kind of tartare or ceviche. With exposure being greater, people are more apt today to be able to be more open to eating sushi.
                            I do think if one starts out eating the best sushi like 15 East, they will not appreciate it as much as someone who starts out with second tier sushi. My statement about sushi Gari as a recommendation , was geared to those with limited sushi experience. It was not meant to be disrespectful or sacrilegious in any way. If anyone is respectful of the art of sushi it is me.
                            I was happy that we agree that watta, shiokara , the fermented , strong taste dishes are not for everyone. I know many Japanese who do not like this. That tell me, when I eat that,that i eat like a Japanese old man. I think 'newbies" to sushi find that same thing with saba, cohada, iwashi, sawara, etc all the "shiny' or fishy fish. I find that hamachi is more palatable to them (even though it is shiny). I find they love the seared toro. Sushi Gari's idea , and he has been very successful, was to make sushi , that would be more acceptable to Americans with limited sushi experience.. I don't even think he was being disrespectful, I think as a sushi chef, he was being more aware. But especially back when he started. When he first opened, many Americans have never even tasted sushi, so the thought of raw fish eating was odd.
                            Anyway, I probably did underestimate the OP, and perhaps they would enjoy 15 East. But I know Sushi of Gari would not be an unenjoyable experience. I do think the movie "Jiro dreams of sushi" did a good job on getting people to appreciate "sushi" in general. I do think most people do not appreciate what it takes to be a real sushi chef. To appreciate the progression of which fish to eat first and last, the subtleties involved, the preparation of the shari. So , kudos to the filmmaker of Jiro. The film will not necessarily get people to like the taste of sushi though. I think it is a learned experience.
                            I am pleased that the OP wants to try an omakase sushi meal. 15 East with Masato will be a good experience. Especially when he shows them the book with the pictures and points out the different parts of the tuna. It will be a good experience. As I have said before , 15 East is my favorite sushi restaurant.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              You're overthinking this waaaay too much. Recommend good, authentic Japanese places and let people decide if the food is right for them. These shops are good shops with committed chefs who can speak English and take people through the nuances. Most people don't need to ramp up through the subtleties of Japanese food over many years or from reading about it on the internet. I've hosted and introduced many foreigners to sushi IN Japan and most people snap right into the majority of it. This whole "zen and the art of sushi eating" crap is getting so old. It simply plays into the annoying convergence of Japanese fetishism and Western oriental mythologization.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                Are you saying you don't think stronger, "fishier" fish is more of an acquired taste than milder fish?

                                1. re: lexismore

                                  In sushi preparation, those fish mentioned above are lightly pickled or cured and are not that fishy tasting or smelling. If they are, then it has been poorly prepared. They are considerably less fishy tasting and smelling than say, sardines or anchovies from a tin.

                                  1. re: lexismore

                                    I've noticed that a few of my friends who were new to eating sushi didn't like the silvery fishes (hikaraimono) at first, but came to enjoy them as they became more experienced with eating sushi and less fearful of "strong" flavors. I think some novices automatically associate the fishy flavor with spoiled fish, and it takes some time for them to realize that the natural flavors of fish are very diverse. Going to a restaurant that serves high quality fish helps a great deal, but I have one pal (whom I occasionally want to smack) who LOOOVES canned tuna but continually sneers at the mere idea of eating sushi. *sigh* You can't enlighten everyone I suppose...

                                    1. re: alkonost

                                      This has been my experience as well with introducing people to sushi.

                                      1. re: alkonost

                                        I agree with you , on the introducing people to sushi and what they don't like and what they learn to like, and those that never come around.

                                        1. re: alkonost

                                          saba and kohada in autumn.
                                          hikarimono, a true, distinguishing skill

                                      2. re: Silverjay

                                        I think you shouldn't downplay the subtleties or the tradition of sushi. A real sushi chef actually does train for 7 years. That is not a myth, and it is disturbing that people with no real training are serving raw fish. I do not expect everyone , or even say 20 % of people to appreciate the "art" of sushi. But you certainly can taste the difference if you go to say, Takahachi one night and 15 East the next. I will continue to introduce people to sushi , as I have many many, the way I learned to eat sushi. And by the way, I guess contrary to several of the posters,,, I always eat sashimi, or sashimi like dishes, before I eat sushi omakase. Usually sushi chefs know that is tradition. It is disturbing when you get omakase and want sashimi first, and the restaurant charges you double..That has happened to me.

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          Sushi of Gari on the east side is a terrific place if you want to eat some great sushi creations that are not traditional.
                                          Perhaps the quality of the fish is not up to the that served at the traditional meccas, but it is a damn fine meal.
                                          The quality of the fish is less important when it is being served with a tasty salad or garlic chip on top! :)

                                          1. re: AdamD

                                            My buddy from Japan, who travels through NYC a few times a year, loves going to that branch of Gari. He finds it funky and interesting. I went with him once and actually enjoyed it. Definitely different, but wasn't bad.

                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                              I have many Japanese friends that love Gari, although they usually prefer the original branch.

                                          2. re: foodwhisperer

                                            Definitely not downplaying subtleties but they shouldn't be a barrier to recommending authentic shops. And saying that only 20% of people are going to "get it" is the type of complete snobbish horseshit I mentioned above.

                                            I don't know much about sushi traditions in NYC. I CAN tell you that in Japan, many higher end sushi chefs will ONLY serve you nigiri and those that do serve sashimi will usually ask you if you even want any. And many people don't because sashimi is served at so many other restaurants in Japan, what's the point? There's no particular tradition or link between sashimi and sushi.

                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                              Usually, I'm primarily having sushi at a sushi bar.

                                              But yeah, if I'm not mistaken, the eponymous Jiro, of Jiro Dream's of Sush fame, only serves sushi, and it's upwards of 400 bucks for only 20 pieces if once again Im not mistaken on that note.

                                              How about Sugiyama for a kaiseki meal ?

                                              Is it even still around ???

                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                Silverjay: I think you're wrong, sashimi was originally presented to give you a sampling of the fish that will be served as sushi. I learned this from Japanese people. One day ask Shimizu-san why he serves sashimi first , then sushi, in his omakase. Sashimi goes first, Whether it is a kaiseki meal or a sushi and sashimi meal. What I am talking about is not a NY tradition, it is Japanese. When I started eating sushi, not too many Americans ate it. You are also under the impression that most Japanese people are familiar with the traditions and etiquette of sushi. You are wrong there too. You can take that Horseshit to the bank. In any case, enjoy you're sushi. Peace.

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                  Last month I dined in Tokyo at 第三春美, which is one of the top rated sushi shops on Tabelog, the massive user-driven food site and 初音鮨, a Michelin 2-star shop run by a 4th generation chef. No sashimi in either omakase. The chef at 初音鮨 went so far as to explain he doesn't believe sashimi should be served with sushi. This is consistent with my 20 years of dining in Japan- including 12 years of living there.

                                                  The higher the level the shop, the less likely they will give you any sashimi. 鮨水谷, the Michelin 3-star shop I dined at a few years ago did not serve sashimi. Neither did two or three more casual places that I visited these last two years.

                                                  Mid-end shops sometimes WILL offer it as part of fixed sets. Other shops, when they are busy or crowded when you arrive, will slice up some sashimi as an appetizer for you as it is quick to prepare.

                                                  As Foodwhisperer is stubbornly hopeless with regards to his Japanese cultural chops, I will offer to others reading my take, which is that the sushi restaurants in the U.S. recognize the standard convention of how we in the U.S. might structure a meal with appetizers and what not, and at the same time recognize that Americans usually associate sashimi with sushi and have come to expect it. As I said up thread, sashimi is served at so many restaurants in Japan anyway, but it's not necessarily expected at sushi restaurants. But that is different here and so the shops oblige.

                                                  There are clearly some restaurants that don't want to do sashimi and I guess they can give you a hard time about it by denying or overcharging or half-assing. Not defending that at all. But I can see they are trying to stick to their sushi only origins.

                                                  Bottom line, if you want sashimi, it doesn't hurt to ask. It may be provided for you or they may ask you directly if you want just sushi.

                                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                                    Also, recall that I mentioned that some places don't even provide chopsticks (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8221...). 初音鮨 being one of them. So they are certainly not going to expect you to pick up slices of fish with your fingers.

                                                    Most places In Japan will just ask you if you want both sashimi and sushi or just sushi. Some just make an assumption and start serving...Anyway, most of the time, there is nothing rigid about policies toward starting with sashimi or the hands/chopsticks aspect of sushi dining.

                                                    However the higher you rise on the price-prestige continuum, the more rigid the rules become- per the master who is determining his particular ideals, which depending on how jaded you are, can seem to be part of the mythological sushi canon or can just be one guy's idiosyncratic sense of ideals he wants to you to abide by. Honestly, after you've gone to a few of these "temples of sushi" you can become accustomed to quickly identifying idiosyncrasies. The lengthy Japanese reviews of sushi places on Tabelog usually go into detail on this stuff now, so you can usually get a heads up.

                                                    People are doing that here on the Manhattan places, which is good. But it's sometimes being framed as not authentic or not traditional, etc. Which is wrong. If you like sashimi before your sushi and a shop doesn't oblige or doesn't do it well, move on to sushi only or move on to another shop. Expecting consistency across the board at these places is hopeless. They all run under their own interpretation of the sushi paradigm, not to mention perhaps slightly different underlying business models with regards to how they sell their goods.

                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                      Well, I remember reading that sashimi is often served at the beginning of the meal, so that diners can sample the quality of the fish.

                                                      Also consider the saying: nigiri sushi is really about the rice, not the topping.

                                                      The 1% restaurants don't need to do a sashimi course, presumably because their fish is already excellent quality. If they give you sashimi it could be for the second reason—to taste fish on its own, separate from sushi.

                                                      But I would be skeptical of all explanations. Obviously sushi has a long history, and moreover there's a lot of folklore surrounding how it's prepared and eaten. What sounds plausible is not necessarily the actual case. If you want an unbiased account (and yes, sometimes chefs believe in the folklore or give partial explanations) it is better to check with a well-researched book or reference.

                                                      1. re: calf

                                                        I HAVE checked with well-researched books and references on sushi and in the past, have actually posted links or, to the best of my humble abilities, translations of this research in Chowhound posts going back many years. If you want a set of links and books, you can email me and I will send you the entire list of what I have gone through.

                                                        Sashimi is an appetizer in Japanese cuisine at the beginning of many meals and sometimes appears in sushi meals. Or some people simply prefer it. But it's not 1% of sushi restaurants. That's a joke. But you're right, there is some "folklore" around it and people cling to some aspects of it and try to deny others. This is why I say to expect consistency is hopeless.

                                                        1. re: calf

                                                          ...And actually, as Yabai-ojisan mentions him, Nagayama-san, the chef at 第三春美 published a bilingual book on sushi last year.

                                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                                            Guys, can you also please put in English writing along with the Japanese characters if possible ?

                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                              They are just names of sushi restaurants, which I thought would be easier to google- Daisan Harumi Sushi (第三春美鮨), Hatsune Sushi (初音鮨), Sushi Mizutani (鮨水谷).

                                                        2. re: Silverjay

                                                          Silverjay,,, i happen to have enjoyed this last post of yours.
                                                          I appreciate that you mentioned a difference between top tier sushi-ya in Japan and non-top tier. When Ive had sushi in Tsukiji market, i think all the time i just had sushi set. The sushi there, was not on the level of the places in Ginza.
                                                          But when I went to top tier, it was far more special.
                                                          I don't know what you think of Kyubei in Ginza, but I had two excellent meals there, I did have sashimi before my sushi there and I think I had a cooked dish, as well before my sushi. However, it is possible that the Japanese person eating with me, ordered their kaiseki set in Japanese, because she knew I like sashimi first and that may have been the only way to do that. It was a very expensive meal but very excellent.
                                                          I had another meal at Kyubai but a different location, much smaller. The sushi was very good, i don't recall if I had sashimi.
                                                          At Masato Shimizu's master's sushi restaurant, I had several different types of shellfish sashimi, and toriwasa before my sushi. His pieces were much bigger than the pieces at 15 East. I enjoyed my experience there. There was no English spoken there, good think I had a Japanese speaking person with me, as my Japanese language skills were pretty limited.
                                                          So, I guess it is time I went back to Japan, and re-evaluate what I think or though I knew, I am still intrigued with sushi and it's traditions as well as Japanese history and tradition. I have been eating sushi for over 40 years, and regardless if it were in Japan or here, it is special to me, especially in top tier places. The no sashimi before , bothers me , that I might be wrong, as that is the way I was taught by knowledgable people, i thought. However, it may have been because I had some food in between, like chawanmushi or something. My thought in this matter was reinforced by chefs in NY like 15 East, Ichimura , Hatsuhana, more, that always gave me some kind of non rice raw dish, sashimi or otherwise first. then sushi. So it perhaps did confuse me, after so many years of eating sushi the same way,,,and always getting what seemed to be a pleasurable response if I asked for sashimi first.
                                                          In any case it was interesting to see your comments on some top tier places not having chopsticks. Eating sushi with the hands and not chopsticks is also what Ive learned and stuck to it. So when I've seen Japanese people eating it with chopsticks, it just seemed odd to me.
                                                          I will continue to love and enjoy my sushi ,and introduce others to sushi eating. I will however, learn more, and correct possible misconceptions. I do have close Japanese friends but they give me middle of the road answers when I ask questions about sushi tradition or the way something should be prepared. It's time to get to Japan again. But most likely I'll end up in Kyoto , where the kaiseki dinners I've had were the most memorable meals of my life.
                                                          I can be stubborn, but I do come around to be open to the fact that I might be misinformed or wrong. Ok. mata ne

                                                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                            Cool. I appreciate the conciliatory note. I can certainly recognize you are no less as passionate a student of Japanese culture as I am. Hope you can make it back to Japan soon.

                                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                Silverjay and Foodwhisperer: I love reading your posts, your knowledge on Japanese food and culture seems to span volumes and I always learn something new from the two of you.

                                                        3. re: Silverjay

                                                          Har! Auntie Yabai *only* orders sashimi at 第三春美, she won't eat sushi there. She hates it how boss 長山一夫 gets all torqued if you don't eat your sushi in one bite. Since she is quite petite and likes to take her sushi in two bites, she only gets sashimi there to avoid the tut-tut from the boss. Boss doesn't seem to mind.

                                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                            First, it was thanks to you in the first place that I learned of
                                                            第三春美, then queried it on TL. But you had introduced it to the Japan board few years ago. Domo abrigado!

                                                            Second, yes of course, everyone has different preferences. Ms. Silverjay prefers sushi only at sushi restaurants and if she had her way, 20 pieces of chu-toro at that. I was simply relating my omakase experience at Daisan. I wouldn't have stopped him if he served me sashimi, he just didn't on this visit.

                                                            1. re: Silverjay

                                                              At DSH, the omakase course doesn't include it, but if you want some, just tell him and he'll put something together (and charge you for it. By weight, his sashimi is materially more expensive than his sushi).

                                                          2. re: Silverjay

                                                            My wife asked Yasuda for sashimi once, he gave her a dirty look, mumbled something in Japanese, then he clearly shimatta, because he realized my wife understands.

                                      3. I was under the impression that Yasuda was going back to Japan and Sushi Yasuda was to be no more.

                                        I will be in NYC in June and if it's still open it will be at the top of my list for omakase.

                                        My other choice would be 15 East

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: tatuaje68

                                          Yasuda did indeed go back to Japan. Sushi Yasuda was taken over by one of his proteges, and it's still great.

                                        2. Thanks Sneakeater,

                                          So Is Yasuda my best bet for Omakase? I'd like to experience Masa but I don't think I want to spend $450. I understand 15 East is also well regarded

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: tatuaje68

                                            I think Yasuda is STILL your best bet, and STILL better than 15 East (which obviously is also very very good).

                                            1. re: Sneakeater

                                              The problem with Yasuda is that an omakase dinner will be one dimensional.

                                              It will be sushi only.

                                              Mitsuru was trained by Yasuda and Yasuda hated cutting sashimi. Mitsuru left to his own devices (First hand experience) will serve you sushi only.

                                              Of course you can ask for sashimi, but it will be very expensive and no where near as good as all of the other places mentioned.

                                              1. re: sushiman

                                                That's weird.

                                                I've never NOT started with sashimi at Yasuda.

                                                I'm not doubting you at all -- just expressing surprise at learning this.

                                                1. re: Sneakeater

                                                  I will add that I always eat sashimi before sushi, and I have done that at Yasuda. I did not have any problem getting the sashimi, but it was cut so poorly, at one time I returned it.

                                                2. re: sushiman

                                                  I've never been served sashimi at Yasuda. I just don't view it as a problem, because I prefer sushi.

                                                  I love Yasuda. But if I'm going with someone who wants something more than just sushi, it's not where I'd go.

                                                  1. re: sushiman

                                                    But that's why you order a couple apps to start with, and then request a nigiri omakase. In my opinion the chawanmushi is more impressive than Kyo Ya's.

                                                    Sushi Yasuda is great—I'm a fan of the 3rd chef from the wall (the tall guy), but you'll get good sushi from all of them.

                                                3. re: tatuaje68

                                                  15 East is good because the chef is very engaging and enjoys playing the part of educator. So if it's your husband's first time, the chef can kindly narrate the experience and even has picture books with which parts of the fish you are enjoying, etc. The settting is also mellow and quite personal. By all accounts, Ichimura at Brushstroke is also a similar experience. On the other hand, the multiple Yasuda chefs are for the most part friendly, happy to explain things as well, and the atmoshpere is a little more bustling.

                                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                                      What about Masa in Columbus Circle ?

                                                      Has anyone been recently ?

                                                      Is it still the paragon of an omakase experience ?

                                                    2. re: tatuaje68

                                                      Yasuda, 15 East and Ichimura at Brushstroke are all very good.

                                                      Ichimura is the most difficult reservation to get - not necessarily because it's better, but because it's currently the newest/most trendy.

                                                      If you want a strictly nigiri meal with a very wide variety of fish, I'd go for Yasuda.

                                                      If you want great cooked dishes, sashimi, and nigiri, with a more extensive drink list, I'd go for 15 East or Ichimura.

                                                      Also, 15 East and Ichimura are slightly more expensive Expect about $150pp for 15 East and Ichimura, and $100-125pp for Yasuda, before tax/tip/drinks.

                                                      EDIT: One other note - I find Ichimura to prefer serving stronger-tasting fish. I happen to like it, but the flavors might be something you want to work up to, not start with.

                                                      1. re: lexismore

                                                        Thanks, this was very helpful. Yasuda it is!

                                                    3. Not mentioned is the slightly unconventional Sasabune. The setting is nothing special, but it is okay and resembles a sushi bar in Japan. There are tables, as the sushi bar is pretty small, and servers do rush out sushi pieces one at a time to tables. Obviously the sushi bar is preferable, so to me, how nice the restaurant decor is slightly irrelevant.

                                                      Sasabune is omakase only, but you can stop at anytime. I have finished the chef's entire repertoire a few times and I have never been so full in my life, but so happy. The bill is not as bad as some of the other places mentioned, maybe on the level of Sushi Azabu, which is considered second tier. But there is nothing second tier about Sasabune's sushi.

                                                      Sasabune has a warm rice preparation which has been noted many times. Some dislike this. I personally do not mind and it sometimes highlights the fish. As an unrelated example, take smoked salmon. If you eat it out of the fridge, you are missing out on the smoke flavor. It is entirely different when it warms up to room temp. To be clear, the fish is not warm, the rice is, but as you eat it is an interesting contrast.

                                                      The chef likes local fish and basically picks whatever is good at the market, he is not Japanese fish only. He's practical and chooses based on taste. His Ankimo prep is definitely unique around NYC, one of my favorites.

                                                      The service is great, and they do a good job explaining each dish and how to eat it. I think it's a decent, okay, very good, place for first-time Omakase, because it's real sushi, with some flair, but not too extravagant.

                                                      I like 15 East very much too, but it's a fancier place.

                                                      A place that I've been very curious about for a long time is Sushi Ann. It seems very straightforward and conventional, along the lines of Sushiden or Hatsuhana, some of the more established places for sushi in NYC. But it is not as old and probably as good. I've walked by it and it is a nice place, with a fairly large bar. I'd check that out too.

                                                      22 Replies
                                                      1. re: tatsu

                                                        Sasabune sounds like a good option too. I'll see if that has decent reservation times. Thanks for your help!

                                                        1. re: kam0424

                                                          I would say that you should probably go for Yasuda, or 15 East, if I were you. And you want to get the goods of NYC style, born and rasied, style of sushi.

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            "And you want to get the goods of NYC style, born and rasied, style of sushi."

                                                            What is that?

                                                          2. re: kam0424

                                                            Although the chef at Sasabune is a nice guy, as I had a long conversation with him when no other customers were in the restaurant, part of his "show" is that he is not a nice guy, and you have to listen to him,, like the soup nazi. So don't expect the friendly, caring, teaching experience you would get at 15 East at Sasabune.

                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                              Yep, NY is new to that heavily sauce, perhaps warmed rice sushi, but in LA we have possibly now close to a dozen joints that are all in the Sasabune vein, but some in LA are the epitome, paragon, and excemplary paradigm of that style which was created by Nozawa in the mid to late 80s, i.e. Sushi Zo in west la.

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                yep: in LA, food ideas, both good and bad, tend to go viral even quicker and more visciously than they do in NYC...

                                                              2. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                I don't want to sound like a Sasabune partisan but really, every well-known sushi chef has a schtick. The guy at Ushiwakamaru will make art with the tip of his yanigiba knife if you talk to him long enough. The original Yasuda was quite the boaster really. All the way to the bank. Masa at 15 East is the least idiosyncratic, I will say that. I have high hopes for him. Sasabune's schtick is plainly printed on the chopsticks and on the sign on the wall, "Trust Me!". Every time I've been presented with a plate, by the head chef or one of his lieutenants, it was courteously explained with directions on how to eat.

                                                                I will say the best day to go to Sasabune is on a weekday, except Monday. Well that goes for any of them since they are all closed Monday. I just find it too hectic and quality declines on weekends.

                                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                                  the "trust me" thing is annoying, because it capitalizes on the Jiro-isms that many gaijin buy into...Sasabune presents itself as the perfect ideal of sushi eating when in fact it's a style, and not even a particularly hallowed one...so you get acolytyes running around ridiculously claiming they have eaten the "best sushi outside Japan" and other such nonsense, when in fact they just enjoyed a meal which many other traditional sushi lovers would find not at all to their taste...

                                                                  1. re: Simon

                                                                    Everyone is entitled to their opinion on Sasabune's unorthodox rice prep, but they have been around a lot longer than the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Therefore, I don't agree they are capitalizing on absolutisms and presenting themselves as sushi chef idols. That title belongs to the original Yasuda, who is long gone of course.

                                                                    1. re: tatsu

                                                                      Sasabune has *always* presented itself to never-been-to-Japan(-except-maybe-to-Kyoto-once) gaijins as the absolute ideal of sushi...that is their schtick...

                                                                      while anyone should enjoy whatever sushi they like best, i find the Sasabune "trust me" sales pitch a bit dishonest: like telling someone who's never had a pizza that one specific kind of pizza (say a soggy Chicago deep dish w/ greasy keilbasa on it) is the absolute perfection of pizza...sure it might be tasty, but if you ran around telling people it's the pinnacle of pizza, you'd sound pretty silly...

                                                              3. re: tatsu

                                                                Ignore my "reservation times" comment, just saw that you can walk in from your post.

                                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                                  Many people in LA do not like Sasabune in Los Angeles, at all, due to the mushy fish, everything being sluiced with sauce, and warm rise, and the Sasabune on the East Side stems from the orginal one in LA. The boss still works in LA, but maybe it's possible that the NY version is better than LA, but for some reason I doubt it, if it's the same.

                                                                  Just to get an idea, in Los Angeles, Mori in West LA is very comparable, almost, to Yasuda in NYC.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    Mushy fish? Is that a type of fish or is that just your hearsay? Everything sluiced with "sauce"? Sasabune has a light and heavy tare for certain items, not unlike the now sainted Jiro of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, or a lot of high-end sushi chefs. Aside from the sometimes wide cuts, a few sesame seeds here and there, a piece of decorative translucent kelp, this is rather traditional sushi. It certainly is not approaching garnishes anything close to Gari or Sushi Seki. Some agree that Sasabune NYC and Hawaii have indeed eclipsed the original Sasabune LA. So your doubt isn't based on reality, just speculation. It's quite the fact that each location is going to have access to completely different fish. So while Hawaii might have a specialty Tai, the others will not. In fact, I bet the Santa Barbara Uni is one of the few items that overlap all three restaurants. That and the Anago, which is the best eel, freshwater or sea, I've ever had in NYC. Sasabune's Ankimo, or Monkfish Liver, is extraordinary as well, again, best in NYC. Anyway, the rice and restaurant format may be shared, but things diverge after.

                                                                    Sasabune NYC is in my top-tier of NYC sushi establishments and it may have the best value of them all. No, it's not completely conventional, but is very traditional. It is not over-rated, it's under-rated, and subject to a lot of hearsay from people who don't know the facts.

                                                                    1. re: tatsu

                                                                      Yes. Hearsay. If the cuts are not like the original and not heavily sauced like the original in LA, I stand very corrected.

                                                                      I guess this may be off topic, but check out the posts on the LA board for Sasabune.

                                                                      My apologies if I offended your top choice for sushi in NYC.

                                                                      1. re: tatsu

                                                                        who doesn't "know the facts"?...many of us have eaten there, been annoyed by the overly warm and undercooked rice and the attitude and placed it in the no-go column...to each their own, but there aren't many facts involved here...

                                                                        1. re: Simon

                                                                          Well, kevin pretty much admitted he never ate there so there you go. Pretty non-factual. It's not my top choice, it's in the top-tier.

                                                                          1. re: tatsu

                                                                            I have eaten at Sasabune 3 times. The first time me and my friend were the last customers, and spent a good deal of time talking to the chef. He said "don't tell anyone i'm a nice guy" ,, he really was a nice guy. And yes he has his shtick. But i prefer sushi places that have great varieties of fish from japan. I prefer rice that is at the right temperature , that doesn't fall apart when you pick it up. Basically, I don't TRUST him.

                                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                              Are you clumsy? The fish from Japan vs local fish thing is a unfortunate argument. If you want fish from Japan, go to Japan okay? Sasabune has over 60 kinds of fish, how is that is not good enough for anyone is beyond me.

                                                                              1. re: tatsu

                                                                                It's nice that you're such an avid fan of Sasabune, and by all means, continue to enjoy it.

                                                                                But I think you'll find most people on these boards, myself included, do not find it to be in the same league as the top sushi places in the city.

                                                                                As a side note, I do think they have a great ankimo preparation.

                                                                    2. re: tatsu

                                                                      Sushi Ann is in the space of the former "Sushisay", which was the NYC branch of Sushisei of Japan. In its heyday, Sushisei (and "Sushisay") were tops in my book, but Sushisei has long been eclipsed by other chains in Japan with better offerings. The Sushisei honten in Tsukiji (not the shinten next door) remains an excellent place that is way cheaper than it should be for what you get.

                                                                      Sushi Ann is the "stub" of Sushisay, some of the same staff, and is OK, very traditional, but not in the same league as some of the top places in NY being discussed here.

                                                                      1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                                        I was at Sushi Ann next door, and had the same chef that I had at Sushisay years ago. It wasn't as good as Sushisay, but I was really happy it was pretty good. I took a chance, going in there since it was close to the Waldorf where I happened to be that night. So, I guess, i'd say , if one is in that area, Sushi Ann is a safe place to go, for decent ( not great) sushi.

                                                                    3. I appreciate your respectful way of expression.

                                                                      1. I'm a 15 East fan myself, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned Kuruma Zushi. It's the best omakase I've ever had in NYC. It did, of course, come at a price.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: psp

                                                                          Is Kuruma Zushi still open ???

                                                                          I'm thinking that no one else supposedly mentioned it because in the ensuing years Sushi Yasuda, Sasabune, Brushstroke, 15 East, etc. opened and Kuruma Zushi was an old stalwart from a decade and a half or so ago.

                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                            yes it's still open and as good as ever. usually very crowded, especially at lunch, mostly japanese businessmen during my visits. fell off the trendy map more like it.

                                                                            1. re: psp

                                                                              I had been there a number of times with the no-expense-spared approach. The food was excellent, but just outrageously priced by any standard. But up there with the best in Japan, even if at double the price. But the proof of concept was sufficient.

                                                                              I went there recently with somebody else who was paying, so we went for a more moderate approach, and had the $90 omakase. I did not think much of it, it really wasn't anything to write home about.

                                                                              So either the place has decayed over time, or you really have to put your beitzim on the table and step up to the big leagues to really see what this place can do.

                                                                            2. re: kevin

                                                                              I didn't mention Kuruma because it's ruinously expensive. I spend more there than I would at Masa. It's very good -- although I actually prefer Yasuda -- but because of the cost, I would never tell anyone to go there.

                                                                              1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                it hasn't decayed over time; it's the put your beitzim on the table problem. Sadly the $90 omakase isn't where it's at; more like the $900 omakase is the star. It is a very memorable experience, better than Masa unless you are looking for Western atmosphere. However, the cost can make it a deal breaker unless your going there on someone else's credit card.

                                                                                1. re: psp

                                                                                  Wait. So are we talking about $700 to $900 per person for a really really really great meal there ???

                                                                                  Then that is expensive.

                                                                                  That must mean that even pieces of sushi that are not toro are about 20 per each individual piece, ???

                                                                                  1. re: psp

                                                                                    I thought Karuma was a rip off when I went. There was nothing special about it. The fish was good. My beitzim stayed where they belong.

                                                                            3. When are you planning to go? I just called and Ichimura is booked 2 months out. 15 East is booked about 2 weeks out. I got a same week reservation for Yasuda. I have not been to any, so I can't comment on deliciousness, but if time is a factor, I'd start looking for tables at any of them asap.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: spicy_chewy

                                                                                Are you using Open Table???? Open Table doesn't work for these places. Especially at 15 East and Ichimura. 15 East tends to lose reservations and tries to get people to go to Tocqueville. Ichimura same thing, they tend to try to get you to go to Brushstroke.
                                                                                Neither are booked so far out. Depends on flexibility of time and day. I just ate at Ichimura, with very little notice. I just made a reservation for 15 East for next week. I ate at 15 East not long ago with no notice. You have to call, and call again, there are always cancellations.

                                                                                1. re: spicy_chewy

                                                                                  15 East was amazing! Try the Santa Barbara Uni and the Seaweed flight. The service was on point. They deserved their Michelin star.

                                                                                  1. re: RosalineS

                                                                                    He had uni from Hokkaido last week too.

                                                                                2. I had Yasuda omakase for the first time over a year ago and it didn't live up to my expectations, set by years of adulatory buzz here and everywhere else where such things are discussed. Yasuda san, I think, had moved on, or something. With that said, it's pretty awesome.

                                                                                  Does anyone have an opinion about how Sugiyama stacks up against Brushstroke and Kyo Ya?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: guanubian


                                                                                    Yasuda's depature was around the end of January 2011 according to the NYT.

                                                                                    I'd post your Sugiyama vs Brushstroke vs Kyo Ya question in a new thread that doesn't have anything to do with sushi.

                                                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                                                      I agree with Kathryn about posting in a new thread as this is not a sushi comparison. But for a quick answer Kyo Ya is the best choice but all 3 are really good.