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Jan 23, 2014 09:14 PM

Very Special Birthday Sushi

Hi hounds!

Since Sushi Nakazawa seems unlikely to happen for us (HOW do they run out of reservations by 12:01 on the dot?!), I am looking for a very special sushi restaurant for my fiance's 35th birthday.

I am really interested in a transcendent sushi experience - I haven't been to Yasuda in several years, but it is still my gold standard. Is there somewhere else that I should try? He loved "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," so I would like to get a really high quality omakase experience. Budget isn't an issue for this night (as long as it isn't Masa)- after all, I think he will only turn 35 four or five times after this :)

Thanks so much, in advance!

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  1. What about Bar Masa or Ushiwaka Maru?

    1 Reply
    1. re: nycsonia

      I have Ushiwaka Maru on my short list! Thank you so much!

    2. 15 East is where you want to go. After Jiro movie, it was the chef of 15 East who was interviewed on the radio about Jiro. He was picked because his master is Jiro's very good friend.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Awesome! I am going to call today to get a seat at the sushi bar if I can - I have heard about the different kinds of uni that is offered and I am SO excited to hopefully try them all and see what I like best. Thank you so much.

      2. Keep trying for Nakazawa.., I think I actually got my reservations at 12:03 or something. It's a small place.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          I will, definitely! I kept trying last night and it eventually said that the reservations system was offline. But I will give it another go - thanks!

          1. re: sarahe1

            Try a few minutes before 12:01. Start clicking refresh at 11:57. Well worth it.

        2. I was pretty underwhelmed at Nakazawa. Yasuda is still my overall preference, but would also recommend Ichimura as a pretty awesome experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bmdaniel

            Oh wow, that's very interesting...thank you for the feedback!!

          2. I second 15 East at sushi bar, it will be excellent, not only for the uni...

            If you go, ask to sit in front of Masa, he is also a great host... Very good selection of sake and wines...

            Ask for his special scallop-uni on seaweed bombs... A dozen of these would catapult me to nirvana...

            21 Replies
            1. re: apple11

              Thank you very much! Masa is off the night that we are scheduled to go...would you still say that it is worthwhile?

              1. re: sarahe1

                normally, for this question, i'd say:

                1) 15 East
                2) Ichimura
                3) Ushiwakamaru

                but i am a big fan of Masato-san and i think either option 2 or 3 might be better if Masato-san is not working that night...

                Also, re: above suggestions: Bar Masa is an awful sham -- overpriced mediocre sushi for people who want to say they've been to Masa...don't go...

                1. re: Simon

                  I was looking into Ichimura, but it isn't open Monday nights, which is his birthday. I may call Ushiwakamaru tomorrow and see if I can get a reservation there! Thanks so much!

                  1. re: sarahe1

                    at Ushiwakamaru, i recommend requesting to sit in front of the head chef Hideo-san when you make the reservation...fwiw, below is my Ushiwakamaru dining primer:


                    1. re: Simon

                      Thank you so much. I swear, I could go eat there right now! I see that you site 15 East as a notch above, but that is only sitting in front of the head sushi chef? Do you feel that a negative difference is noticeable when sitting at another spot at the sushi bar?

                      1. re: sarahe1

                        i wouldn't want to knock/diss 15 East's other chefs -- it's possible they are wonderful...just personally for me: 15 East = Masato-san...ymmv ;) i've never eaten there w/o Masato-san

                        I'm sure you'll have a wonderful meal at either...please report back and tell us how it all goes...

                        1. re: Simon

                          Aaah, totally understand. Thanks again - I will absolutely report back at the end of February after a hopefully incredible sushi experience!

                          1. re: sarahe1

                            I don't recommend going to 15 East without Masa there. As Simon said not to knock the other chefs in any way but Masa makes the experience.
                            Other ideas besides Ushiwakamaru, Ichimura will give you a very memorable experience. But he talks very softly , so pay attention :)
                            At Kanoyama , Nobu-san gives an great omakase.
                            Blue Ribbon Izakaya ( aside from no fresh wasabi) the omakase at the sushi bar is very nice.
                            Jewel Bako- you would enjoy the high quality service, and the omakase experience will be really good.
                            Sushi Azabu will have their new chef from Japan in February, it might be a good alternative.
                            Enjoy the birthday dinner.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              Thank you SO much for such detailed recommendations! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I am going to make calls on Monday to see what my best options are! Thank you, again.

                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                BR Izakaya is very, very loud on some nights (mostly weekend nights). Screamingly loud. Not what I'd do for a special birthday.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  okay, that is not the atmosphere that I want at all - thanks for the heads up. Has anyone heard anything on Sushi Ko?

                                  1. re: sarahe1

                                    Sushi Ko is Ok, you don't get much for the price, and it's not best choice for a special birthday. It is a very casual place , and the chef although a nice guy, doesn't have a seriousness that I think sushi making should have.
                                    I'd sooner do the back room at Kanoyama, Ichimura, or Jewel Bako. Kathryn is correct that Blue Ribbon can be very loud and totally not romantic , it's a huge place. During week it is not too loud, but the music is "clubby" and loud. We went there on a special birthday for my son.
                                    Some people might say Soto , but I am not a fan.
                                    Kura is another possibility, much better than SushiKo.
                                    Dojo is not a choice I would make, in case you're thinking Dojo.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Thanks for the info, especially regarding Dojo - that was on my list, too. Any opinions on Neta? I was able to score a reservation at the sushi bar there but I don't know if it is right for my fiance's first omakase experience.

                                      1. re: sarahe1

                                        To offer a slightly different opinion -

                                        I wouldn't discount Dojo at all. I think Dojo with David is one of my absolutely favorite sushi experiences in the city.

                                        That being said, the restaurant has more of a casual atmosphere, perhaps not what you're looking for with a special birthday celebration. And they're closed Monday anyways.

                                        I agree that while 15 East would be perfect, going without Masa is not what you want.

                                        1. re: lexismore

                                          Thanks for this! I am going to try to get a reservation at Ushiwakamaru and will see where I can go from there. Still keeping Dojo in mind for a later omakase experience if this one hooks the birthday boy!

                                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                                        Just curious why you're negative on Dojo. I went once, thought it was definitely above average. Their mirugai was the best I've had on the east coast. I sat in front of the male Japanese chef and requested Japanese fish for what it's worth.

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          MVNYC, I'll assume the Japanese chef you sat in front of at Dojo was female. She is really good, and I've eaten at her father's Japanese restaurant many years ago. I also knew her from 15 East where she worked. I did enjoy my first experience there. It was before all the hype. I think after the hype the David, the head sushi chef/owner seemed to have had a change in attitude. Very full of himself, and I didn't find the sushi exceptional at all,nor did I find the selection that good. Granted, it was better than most but IMO not as good as others I have mentioned. btw I love Mirugai.

                                          sarahe: Neta has a new chef , I have not checked it out since the change. I have a CH'er friend who would probably choose Neta over any other place. They did have some very good dishes. As far as the sushi goes, the selection was very limited, but all with an extra touch , or ingredient to make it seem special. If you can sit in front of the head chef there, it is much better experience than table or other parts of the "counter". It is not a quiet atmosphere either.
                                          Underrated is Jewel Bako. Great service. They still order fish from where Masa at 15 East used to order from. Masa put them on the map.They learned a lot from him. Yoshi-san is a skilled chef. His anago is equal to the top restaurants.The atmosphere is perfect and is why so many Japanese people still dine there. Yoko Ono once sat next to me there.

                                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                                            Nope I mentioned male to differentiate him from the female chef. I would agree with your assessment. I thought it was good but a step below my top tier. Still they had a few standout pieces and te guy I was in front of gave me a good variety of fish per my request.

                                            For someone who's never had omakase before I think this could be a good choice because you can learn more about sushi. I sent some people who liked sushi but were not well versed in high end stuff. They say in front of the white guy and found him very informative. I only went once so I can't comment if he's cocky or what not.

                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                              Thanks for another point of view! So many places are on my list now!