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Better Sushi in NYC

My wife and I gave birth to our first child back in February and one of the things so was most deprived of during her pregnancy was sushi. I'd like to treat her to an exceptional sushi meal now that she's able to eat this again.

I'm wondering what some good options may be for a good sushi meal. It doesn't have to be uber-expensive, tho I'm open to haunts from all ends of the price spectrum.

During my college days, which weren't so long ago, I would tend to eat at places like Sushi Zen on St. Mark's or Sushi Lounge on the corner of St. Mark's & Avenue A - can't beat their 50% off specials, especially a student and I never got sick. I'll also grab sushi from Whole Foods and most recently, used an offer through Belly to get a free California Roll at Monster Sushi in Chelsea. I know California Rolls aren't anywhere near the upper eschelon of sushi, but the California Roll I had there was probably the best I'd ever had. The rice was warm and the avocado and crab meat were very fresh, while the seaweed had a nice texture. I'd also get sushi from The Lobster Place in the Chelsea Market which I always liked. I don't know whether this is true or not, but the guys working there told me that The Lobster Place and Morimoto both got their fish from the same place, with Morimoto's being much more expensive.

Ok, I'm getting a little off topic here, but in terms of more upscale sushi, I have eaten at Morimoto with my parents and to date, I'd consider that the best I've had.

So, now that you all know what I've had, perhaps some suggestions can be made. I have looked up some places on Yelp, but wanted to reach out to the Chowhound community as well.

Thanks!

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  1. I like the creative rolls at Atlantic Grill near Lincoln Center.

    For traditional sushi, try 15 East.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MrGrumpy

      Thanks for the tip about 15 East. I've heard of the place and I think we're going for more traditional sushi here.

    2. This is my preferred, and one of the most recent, discussions on the best sushi in NYC: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/822153

      That being said, given your experience, I personally believe "better" sushi, as in the name of the thread, is probably more suitable than "best" sushi. For example, most CHers will tell you Morimoto's composed dishes are far superior to its sushi. Sometimes you just have to go slowly to gain appreciation for the differences between the quality of places.

      I would recommend Sushi Seki or Sushi of Gari, which specialize in a sauced twist on traditional sushi. Both have very good flavor combinations, and is a fitting step in-between california rolls and very traditional high end sushi. I personally prefer Seki over Gari though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fooder

        That thread is intense and so long that it becomes hard to follow. Based off browsing through it, I have been to Kanoyama. It was recommended by the people at Angel's Share.

      2. More important may be what she craves. Nigiri or maki, favorite fish, etc?

        21 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          That is a good question. We usually just get mixed sushi and sashimi for two, which comes with rolls as well.

          1. re: willscarlett

            The reason I ask is because she loves eel, people would tell you to go to Yasuda. If she loves uni or tuna, then 15 East... That sort of thing can help us steer you towards a place.

            So far we don't have a lot to go on since your price range is so open. Price is usually the limiting factor on sushi conversations on CH.

            The "best sushi" in NYC discussions are also typically based upon sushi omakase at the sushi bar, where the chef is feeding you one piece at a time, learns your likes and dislikes, and where you can help steer the progress of your meal towards things you are curious about. And they end up being very expensive meals.

            If your only experience is a mixed sushi / sashimi platter for two, where everything all comes out at once, with some sushi rolls, you need to decide what you want.

            Do you think you're up for the sushi omakase experience right now (and high price tag that it entails)? Or do you want to stick with the various "set" meal options?

            1. re: kathryn

              All good questions. I've never had a true omakase experience. Perhaps a "set" meal of better quality would be preferable at this point.

              As for the price range, I'd prefer not to have to sell our newborn to pay for the meal. When it comes to sushi, does more expensive generally mean better?

              1. re: willscarlett

                As mentioned above, I still think Sushi Seki fits the bill rather nicely for what you want. They have nice quality set meals, and the prices are more than reasonable in my opinion. It's not traditional sushi, but it's still very good.

                Often when it comes to sushi, even if you're at the right places where more expensive does = better, the differences are still very subtle.

                1. re: fooder

                  What do you mean by it not being traditional sushi?

                  1. re: willscarlett

                    Every piece at Seki (or Gari etc) has its own special sauce or garnish or both. Examples: yellowtail with jalepeno, tuna with tofu sauce, tuna with garlic ginger sauce, salmon with blowtorched tomato skin, etc. It's not just fish, wasabi, rice, and soy.

                2. re: willscarlett

                  shimizu on west 51 is a good bet as well. high quality, not pretentious. good for a menu based meal, and for an omakase at the bar. the two times i've done that, i've said 'okay, i've got [x] dollars, let's go.' i think it was around 75 each time, and i was really impressed.

                  1. re: debinqueens

                    Thanks, good to know. Do you remember what sort of things impressed you?

                  2. re: willscarlett

                    If the sushi is too cheap, I'm generally suspicious. You do get what you pay for and there's a general increase in quality as you pay more, but after a certain point, I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in. If you're not a sushi fanatic, would you be able to tell the difference between two very high end places? No one can promise that.

                    Both 15 East and Ushiwakamaru will do a set meal. And I'm sure you can add on items a la carte as you wish. This will help keep the price down. And by skipping the omakase experience, you can sit at a table with your wife, not the sushi bar. I imagine you don't get out much now and sitting at a table may be nicer.

                    What DO you want to spend? $60pp? $80pp? $100pp?

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Hmm, perhaps $80-$100 per person would be a good starting point, tho we are no strangers to expensive dining, for special occasions. In the past we've been to Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Jean-Georges, One If By Land, Momofuku Ko etc. However, these all were before our baby was born, tho I suppose that give or take $250-$325 wouldn't be a bad range.

                      How do people like Soto, Jewel Bako, Sushi Azabu, Ushiwaka Maru or Kuruma Zushi?

                      1. re: willscarlett

                        I think the general consensus here is that Soto is better for cooked dishes and Jewel Bako has gone much downhill. I like Azabu but their variety doesn't seem as far ranging as others. Kuruma is will way too expensive for you, I think, and/or not really the place you jump to from never having an omakase before.

                        I like Blue Ribbon Izakaya on the LES but it is pretty loud. Also don't confuse it with Blue Ribbon Sushi in Soho, which is only OK for nigiri.

                    2. re: willscarlett

                      Usually, higher priced sushi gives you better quality.
                      My favorite sushi restaurant is 15 East.
                      Once in a while I will go to Sushi of Gari for a modern twist.
                      Blue Ribbon Izakaya would be a really good choice. At half the price of 15 East, yasuda,Ichimura, Kanoyama etc Blue Ribbon has very high quality fish, very skilled sushi chefs and an excellent non- sushi menu. The atmosphere is great and I strongly recommend Blue Ribbon. Sit at the sushi bar and get the omakase.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        Thanks for the tip about Blue Ribbon. We have a friend who has recommended that place as well.

                        1. re: willscarlett

                          Was at Blue Ribbon Izakaya last night (Saturday) around 8:30pm and it was very, very loud. Both people talking and loud music. There were several large parties of young people screaming at each other. We usually go Sun-Thurs, and I thought it was loud then, but this was a new level of loud.

                          The new beer garden was packed, as was the bar area (2-3 people deep). We were able to squeeze in at the sushi bar. Otherwise the wait was over an hour for a table. We tried to order a cocktail and the server warned it could take up to 20 minutes given how busy they were.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            How was the food tho? The noise sounds very hectic - something we definitely don't want.

                            On Friday night, we went to the City Grit Clambake down on Prince Street. The food was yummy - not gourmet, but an upscale version of cozy, home cooked comfort food. However, the space was small, very loud, very hot and the furniture was comfortable at all! There were six or seven courses, but the portion of food per course was small and the wait between courses was between 15-30 minutes.

                            1. re: willscarlett

                              Food was great, but, hey, you're on the Lower East Side on Saturday night, you know? Just wish there were fewer people leaving empty beer bottles & cans everywhere in the hotel (including the ladies room) that the restaurant is located in. Classy.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                From now thru the summer they usually get packed and loud , even during the week. Good you got seats at the sushi bar. Did you have anything different or exciting?
                                Last year I ate in the beer garden when it first opened. It was pretty nice eating sushi and other dishes outside and above street level.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  Tried the duck with grilled napa cabbage, it was excellent. The beer garden no longer has sushi on the menu, only snacks and 2-3 entrees now.

                    3. re: kathryn

                      Although Yasuda has a wide variety of eel and prepares it very well. 15 East has the best anago that I've had in any restaurant.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        Funny - I prefer the anago at Yasuda.

                        Never had an uni-tasting quite like the one at 15 East, however.

                        1. re: lexismore

                          i've had uni tasting similar to 15 east at Kanoyama and at Azabu,,,,, but I enjoy uni from Hokkaido most so, I don't need the tasting, i'm happy if they have the Hokkaido variety. However, the chef at Kura told me he will be getting the uni i've been wanting badly that I've never seen in the US. The aka (red)uni from Iki island ( near Kyushu). Perhaps the most prized and most expensive of uni.

                3. This is a pretty good run down of places that come up most frequently:

                  http://www.timeout.com/newyork/food-d...

                  You might want more neighborhood, mid-level options from the sounds of it.