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Sushi Nakazawa Impressions After Two Meals

I've been fortunate enough to dine at Sushi Nakazawa twice in the past two weeks—once at the sushi bar and once, last night, in the dining room. I will say that the sushi bar is far superior and worth the $30 premium, but my meal last night was with a party of four, larger than the bar can accommodate.

The interaction with Nakazawa himself at the sushi bar is incredibly fun. His energy and sense of humor makes for a fun meal. He even recognized us again when we walked out last evening, as did the owner who thanked us for returning. Touches like that, along with the attention paid by the servers, somms, runners, etc., make the experience akin to Per Se or Eleven Madison Park.

About 5-6 pieces were different last night than our first visit. I didn't take notes last night, but both visits started out with Alaskan king salmon, hay-smoked chum salmon, a scallop (with a healthy bite from yuzukosho), and geoduck (yum).

At the bar, this was followed by a fish that Nakazawa introduced as gingkofish, but I can't quite figure out what it was. Next was golden-eye snapper and fluke.

At our table, we were served cod with cod milt (not our table's favorite, but milt is pretty divisive), along with another white fish I cannot remember.

Both times, the mackerel was phenomenal. Nakazawa is pickling and aging his mackerel for six days. I'm typically not a mackerel fan, but I've enjoyed all three variations from him—horse mackerel, pickled mackerel, and Spanish mackerel. Last night, there was a beautiful piece of herring served alongside the horse and pickled mackerel.

The first visit, we had the raw tiger shrimp and the steamed blue shrimp, but last night there was only blue shrimp. I personally prefer the steamed shrimp. Perfectly sweet, warm, and not tough in the least.

One interesting thing of note: on our first visit, we had three pieces of tuna, but last night we just had chu-toro and o-toro. The o-toro last night was seared.

Other pieces I remember: triggerfish, fluke, bream, yellowtail (two kinds), hay-smoked bonito. Pretty standard, but Nakazawa's treatment of each individual piece makes them each outstanding. The uni, ikura, and eel were stellar on both visits. My boyfriend could eat about 10 pieces of Nakazawa's ikura. We also really loved his rice.

On our first visit we did the sake pairing. Initially reluctant about it (we like wine and not sake), we enjoyed it quite a bit and were surprised at the variety. It's a value, and I certainly recommend it. Last night, after telling the somm what we liked from the pairing, he guided us to an excellent bottle for the table at a nice price-point, so if you're overwhelmed by the wine or sake, defer to the somm.

I'll end this by making a note that I've not had a lot of extremely high-end sushi experiences before (or any, really, despite a lot of traditional fine dining), but I hope that despite my affection for delivery sushi sometimes, this write-up is helpful to others. It is a very, very good restaurant.

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  1. Thanks for the excellent report. Wish they would accept solo reservations at the sushi bar.

    1. Thank you for the report and photos! I'm looking forward to eating there some day. (also agree with ellenost about solo reservations =( )

      1 Reply
      1. re: silencespeak

        Sounds like a couple of CHers should just band together and go. :)

      2. Terrific report.

        Thank you for taking the time.

        1. I also thank you very much. Great report. It gives one a very good idea of what to expect. Btw I love fish milt. The first time i had it , the chef called them "male eggs".
          Like Ellenost, I wish they took single diners. Also I've had no luck at 12 midnite trying to get a reservation on line.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodwhisperer

            My favorite preparation of milt was when Fergus Henderson cooked for two nights at the John Dory Oyster Bar a few years ago—he served a fabulous seared milt on toast. I can certainly understand why some people don't like it though! ;)

            I'm surprised that I've been lucky twice now with reservations. The best advice I can give to have your browser on the page at ~11:55 and then just start click "refresh" until you see a reservation pop-up. It is worth mentioning that I didn't get my first pick of time for either reservation; I just took what was available—a 5 p.m. at the bar, and a 6:15 p.m. at a table, but who cares? Hope this helps.

          2. Gorgeous photos, Laura. Sounds like two fantastic meals. what sake did you order at the table?

            1 Reply
            1. re: coasts

              I wish they had their list online so I could find it! I may call and ask, because I liked it very much and it almost drank more like a lighter riesling or a gewurztraminer than a sake. Will report back.

            2. Nice review. Do you think you're now a convert to high end sushi and sake?

              3 Replies
              1. re: MVNYC

                Yes, and no.

                The sushi certainly moreso than the sake—champagne and sushi is my favorite, but it was nice to try a few different varieties of sake, even though it will still never be my first choice.

                As for the sushi, I will definitely return for meals with guests and visitors who are interested, but I don't foresee high-end sushi becoming a regular habit. It's a special and unique experience to have a handful of times, but from a "value" perspective, there are better restaurant experiences to be had.

                1. re: loratliff

                  Sushi Nakazawa, is causing damage to my computer. I get as far as clicking the yellow time box, that they say is available, only to get the unavailable. Then I punch the screen of my monitor. I'm starting to hate these people at SN. I doubt if calling them, gets anybody a reservation.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    They're transitioning from their own system to Open Table, and the switch is far from smooth. I've had the same problems as you.

              2. So odd that they have ikura, not even in season right now, that ends around November. Frozen?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Shirang

                  I'm not sure. Perhaps the roe sacs are flash-frozen and then thawed when Nakazawa cures them.

                  I'm personally not averse to frozen fish since much of it is flash-frozen as it's caught anyway.

                2. An invaluable review - thanks for sharing.

                  I've never been to any high-end sushi restaurants in my time. I usually don't think a few pieces of sashimi or sushi will suffice for a dinner. What did you think, loratliff?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: RogueFoodie

                    At Nakazawa, it's 20 pieces of nigiri, with the option to add more nigiri, plus dessert.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      One note - when I went, it was at the last seating (9:30 PM), and there was no option to add more nigiri.

                    2. re: RogueFoodie

                      Totally full afterwards! Not uncomfortably stuffed like I've been before after EMP or Per Se, but I didn't need to eat anything the rest of the evening, and our meals were at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

                      (The 6:30 p.m. dinner was with my dad—who normally isn't satisfied by sushi or small plates alone—and near the end, he even said he was comfortably full, so you will probably be surprised.)

                      1. re: loratliff

                        20 pieces is a good number of pieces. Other places like Sushi of Gari I believe you get around 12. Neta you get 8 plus a few small dishes.
                        I tried again, unsuccessfully to get a reservation for March 11. Frustrating