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Jan 23, 2014 04:35 PM

Best sushi experience in Mid-Town?

I'm a serious foodie and am taking a client out to lunch in NYC. The client is located at 222 West 44th Street.

I would appreciate recommendations on the best sushi restaurants in the immediate area. D├ęcor is not important to me but very high end fish with renowned sushi chefs is what I'm going for. Price is irrelevant. I live in Los Angeles so the bar for sushi is set pretty high.

Thank you!

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  1. We'll if price doesn't really matter, Masa.

    1. How far are you willing to go?

      W44th between 7th and 8th is a bit of a hike from places that are generally considered top tier but still in Midtown. Midtown is pretty big...

      1. Our bar here is only set at about 4 feet high.:: drumroll::
        Karumazushi ( excellent)
        +1 Masa (top choice)
        Sushi of Gari ( modern style)
        Nobu 57
        Sushi Ann
        Several high end places are either closed for lunch or located downtown. ( 15 East, Nakazawa, Ushiwakamaru,etc)
        Sakagura is Japanese Izakaya perhaps a good choice in the just east of your location, easily walkable.

        25 Replies
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          i'm always surprised that Sushi Zen on 44th off 6th doesn't get more respect. it's a cut below the top five or so mentioned by foodwhisperer (but a few notches above Nobu). great care with seasonal specials, and a nice eating experience as well.

          1. re: debinqueens

            I've never been to Sushi Zen, but I'll check it out next time i'm in the area. Thanks.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              How does Ushiwakamaru rate compared to the Ichimura and 15 Easts of the world? It's been a long time since I've been...I remember thinking it was a B+.

              One other places Im considering is Kura, but I don't hear about it on the chow forums.

              1. re: dndicicco

                If price is not a factor Ichimura and 15 East surpass Ushi easily. Factor cost in and Ushi is right there. Ushi is one of the best value/ price sushi joints in the city.

                1. re: dndicicco

                  There are many fans of Ushiwakamaru here on CH. Many of whose opinions I respect. I personally did not have very good experience there , but two of the 3 times I was there I did not have the head chef. It does seem to make a big difference if you get him as your chef or not. When I did get him as my chef, I bought him a beer and he poured himself the hugest beer. I thought it was disrespectful, however, I later understood that was his 'thing". ( Ushi closing soon)
                  In any case, Ichimura is a serene atmosphere. The chef whispers and his English is not great. Ushiwakamura is more loud and fun.
                  15 East is in between but leaning more towards the quiet side. Kura is on the quiet side, and the best thing about Kura is its hidden location. The pieces of fish (neta) are larger than Ichimura and 15 East. He does an squid rolled around eel, that seems to be a signature dish. I have been to Kura maybe 6 times, and not for over a year. 15 East and Ichimura ,
                  I frequent.
                  Kura is less expensive than both of the above, but if you order more fish, the bill will get close to the others.

              2. re: debinqueens

                Sushi Zen is great!!!! My go to place for midtown sushi. Extremely competent staff and the best fish!

              3. re: foodwhisperer

                This is a good list. A few notes:

                Masa will be closest in style/experience to Urasawa.

                Sushi Zen is quite good, but based on their location, they get a lot of tourists, so you have to communicate to them that you know what you're doing. But I find Yasuda and Gari to be much better.

                For googling purposes, the spelling is "Kurumazushi"

                And Sakagura is across the street from Yasuda, so equally walkable, but not the closest.

                1. re: lexismore

                  I have never experienced a disproportionate number of tourists at Sushi Zen. In fact, I would think that Gari, right on Restaurant Row, would attract a lot more tourists than would Sushi Zen at 44th and 6th. But then again, I never have felt that the presence of tourists have affected my meal at either restaurant.

                  1. re: Blumie

                    I didn't mean the presence of tourists would affect the meal. I meant the restaurant mistaking you for one might - unless you communicate that you know and enjoy good sushi.

                    I've found that many sushi chefs will "try harder" (give more interesting fish, be more engaging) when they understand they're serving someone who really appreciates sushi.

                    1. re: lexismore

                      I agree 100% that they "try harder" or appreciate you, appreciating them.

                2. re: foodwhisperer

                  I wouldn't keep Sakagura on this list since it's not sushi-centric. Though, it's still worth a visit.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    I didn't even realize masa did lunch! Pretty cool. Anyone have experiences with their lunch omakase? I'll be in town for a bit and am debating between a few spots for lunch such as 15 East koruma etc. Thanks

                    1. re: dndicicco

                      15 East does lunch.It is not as good as the dinner seatings.
                      Hatsuhana does lunch.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        I have only had 15 East lunch omakase, never dinner, and I was underwhelmed. I believe Jesse-san (?) was my itamae; I did not have the main man with whom I am unfamiliar.

                        Is it worth trying 15 East for lunch again even w/o the head itemae, or go somewhere else? I'm doing a little sushi odyssey next week, and am checking out Azabu, Ichimura, and Yasuda for dinner omakases. I have two lunches open, too, so was thinking 15 East and one other.

                        15 East is booked up for private events and regular reservations throughout the week.

                        1. re: dndicicco

                          I don't think it is worth doing 15 East for lunch. I think ichimura will be a good experience.
                          I think Kanoyama over Azabu.
                          Blue Ribbon Izakaya is very good.
                          Many CH'ers will recommend Dojo

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Awesome. Is sushi of gari UES worth a visit in that vaunted company?

                            I've added kanoyama to the list if masa is booked. Sushi azabu was very unprofessional on the phone when making a reservation. When I asked to be seated in front of the head chef they didn't know which one that was!

                            1. re: dndicicco

                              Since their original chef left, they are confused at Azabu.
                              Sushi Gari is worth a visit for sure. Their fish is top quality. Their style is unconventional, more modern creative style but if you have never been there, I'd definitely go there. Sushi Gari is like a once a year place for me. They get most creative if you order more pieces than their standard omakase. Then the chef has to think and not just do the general progression. The sushi with cooked tomato and salmon ,i always skip because i've scalded my mouth once , it is too hot.

                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                Excellent, I'm going to try to write up a little omakase odyssey in NYC. 4 dinners, which will include Kanoyama (should I ask for a specific chef?), Sushi of Gari UES (to mix it up), Ichimura (never been, looking forward to it the most, honestly), and Yasuda (a staple of mine). I have time for three lunch omakases, Karuma, SushiAnn, and one more not quite sure.

                                15 East is all booked up, except for lunch, and I don't want to do a lunch there again. I feel as though I need to sit with the head chef for dinner.

                                Masa is all booked up as well, although I haven't asked about lunch. Maybe I'll try that as my third spot. I have not been before, but love Urasawa in LA.

                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                      Hatsuhana - does anyone know if they serve individual nigiri, edomae-style for omakase? The style I saw in pictures were more of the platter variety. If I can't get the head chef for lunch, still worth going, or would an old staple such as SushiAnn be better?

                      1. re: dndicicco

                        Hatsuhana serves individual nigiri. You check off what fish you want. Doubtful if you will be able to get the head chef. The fish is high quality.
                        Years ago they were #1 in NYC.( many years ago). Catering to a mostly Japanese business clientele. Many chefs in the city at one time worked at Hatsuhana. The chef that was the head sushi chef at Bouley Upstairs, was once the executive chef there.(worldwide). Hatushana had branches in Paris, Tokyo, Chicago, NY, more. One of the chefs at Blure Ribbon worked there. The late head chef at Nobu , Sheen-san worked at Hatsuhana for many years. I do not think Hatushana has an omakase, although things change. I haven't eaten there in 2 years. But the quality was excellent when I was there, there was not much interaction with the sushi chef however.

                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                        Which of these places is best for a solo diner looking to dine in an hour or less?


                        1. re: LemonLauren

                          I'd go with the sushi special at Kuruma. It's like $25-35, and they serve it in one go although it's very, very good.

                          1. re: LemonLauren

                            Hatsuhana is good for solo diner and you can get out in less than an hour.

                          2. re: foodwhisperer

                            Do you all recall if Sushi Ann serves edomae style where they sauce the fish for you or are you to dip yourself?

                            1. re: dndicicco

                              When I've eaten at Sushi Ann, I ordered ala carte. I believe I dipped the fish myself. I'm not sure what they do at chef tasting. You can correct me if i'm wrong, I don't think the sauce put on for you by the chef or doing your own dipping is what classifies it as edomae style or not. I think Sushi Ann has mixed styles as they rolls, hand rolls and Gunkan style ( which started at Kyubey in Tokyo, a place that I like.)
                              Kyo Ya does some pressed sushi which I like,, but I think it is hand pressed, not Osaka style made in a wood box. Blue Ribbon on occasion makes some Osaka or Kansai style.

                            1. re: sushiman

                              Yes, they are. Especially given the area both are in.

                              1. re: sushiman

                                I consulted at a japanese bank for 3 years and this was the restaurant of choice for our team.

                                1. re: vinouspleasure

                                  The chef's are Sushiden are so good, that a while back, Joel Robuchon stole one to work for him.

                                  1. re: sushiman

                                    Interesting, I didn't realize the restaurant was on anyone's radar.