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Aug 20, 2014 04:54 AM

Looking for the quintessential true sushi bar/experience in New York.

Any ideas? We are visiting in a month and are looking to do this one night. We decided against Masa after reading reviews. It sounds good but just crazy expensive and I am a firm believer that the most expensive doesnt always mean the best.

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  1. I should mention we are leaning towards Sushi Yosada and sitting at the sushi bar if we can.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Suzie

      Nakazawa is the hottest right now. Hard to get a reservation, so it may be off your list and it's nigiri only so very much Tokyo-style in my understanding.

      So many other good options.

      Sushi Yasuda, pretty classic, a little rushed but that might fit the NY vibe. Try to sit in front of the head sushi chef (Mitsu, IIRC) when making reservations. They are not that difficult to get since they churn out guests every 90 minutes or so. A ton of variety, once I had about 36 different pieces of sushi, and it may have been 40. All top quality.

      Ichimura I have not been, but I hear only great things. Very experienced chef who has some intriguing fermented, aged options and then a variety of other items.

      Karumazushi is the oldest and extremely expensive. This is like the bankers/Japanese big business crowd. Excellent sashimi, somewhat dated decor.

      15 East attracts a diversity of opinions here. In my experience, the sushi has been good but not as stellar as the places above. I have not sat with the head sushi chef.

      1. re: dndicicco

        Thanks for the detailed answer. Good to know about the "being rushed" at Yasuda. It may not be a strike against them but its just good to know.
        We are a little hesitant to try the thing that is hot or trendy right now as we really want to try something that has been around for a while and is consistently good and has made a place in that culture. We are big foodies and love sushi. Going to New York, a big part of the trip is planning the meals/food, lol. We actually have a dry erase board to help us plan our dining, lol. Sadly I keep adding to the list instead of erasing.

        1. re: Suzie

          To me I've never found Yasuda to be rushed. Yes, they have a 90 min limit but of all the times we have been we have never done a full 90. So I think it's more of a mental thing.
          If you were to eat at Jiro in Tokyo you'd be in and out in 30 mins. I never found sushi to be something that goes for several hours. You are supposed to eat it and soon as is set down for optimal temperature anyway.

          That being said: Yasuda gets top marks from me with Mitsuru.
          Nakazawa also was stellar and interesting in it's different preparations. But it's a hell of a trick getting reservations. Also, the service was a bit wooden and the owner was looming in the background over our shoulders a bit too much. Likely because it was still relatively new since it opened.

    2. Ichimura or Nakazawa are the hot places now it seems

      1 Reply
      1. Yasuda is definitely more rushed. They even inform you of a 90 minute time limit when you reserve. That being said, I've never actually had them kick me out.

        My picks would be:

        15 East with Masa if you want a more formal atmosphere.

        Dojo with David if you want a more relaxed/party atmosphere.

        I've also had great meals at Ichimura, Sushi Azabu, and Nakazawa.

        1. After reading all the comments, I think it is important to know what sushi you like that you've had. What kind of experience. "Quintessential true sushi bar,," doesn't tell me if you want traditional style, modern style, rolls, are you someone who doesn't like "fishy" fish? It's easy to name all the popular names. But if I go for sushi with some people, I know that Ichimura they will not like and Sushi Gari they will love. Others won't like Nakazawa because you can only get sushi and maybe they want a sashimi or soba or tartare dish, so I recommend Blue Ribbon Izakaya to those that want a mix. Ichimura for those who would enjoy fermented dishes, even "fishy"fish. But I will say Ichimura's small sushi bar gives you feeling of being in Japan. Years ago I took someone to Jewel Bako when Masa was there and the sushi was amazing , but the person I took for dinner said " no spicy tuna rolls??" So not sure exactly what you want. That being said,
          15 East is my #1 choice, Ichimura #2, Blue Ribbon Izakaya #3 ( best deal, and skillful chef), Hatsuhana is good but don't plan on any interaction with chef.
          Sushi Gari if you like modern sushi. Karumazushi I don't like the attitude toward Gaijin there. Nakazawa I don't pick, Ive been there 3 times, been there done that. Masa , Ive never been to, Ive tried several times but couldn't get in. Kura sushi is a place for a good sushi experience also. Sushi Chefs that I know, have raved about the food. However, they didn't have to pay the high price because of personal relationships. I wouldn't eliminate Masa as a top choice.

          12 Replies
          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Foodwhisper, I love your comments.

            What are your thoughts on Yasuda, SushiAnn, Soto, and Sasabune to name a few other spots that are sometimes thrown around here.

            1. re: dndicicco

              Thanks for loving my comments. Sometimes I look at my comments and say " did I actually say that". Moving right along here,
              Yasuda- I haven't been back since Yasuda had left. I assume the eel choices are still very good. I do not like the attitude of their management.

              Sushi Ann: They are underrated and have high quality sushi and sashimi

              Sasabune: The chef likes to be considered the "Sushi Nazi" , but he is actually a nice guy. They lack in fish from Japan. The rice is too hot and falls apart. The chef says his sushi should be eaten with chopsticks ( so it doesn't fall apart). No sushi should be eaten with chopsticks.

              Soto: I think his food was much better when he first opened. Perhaps high ratings ( stars) went to his head , also the increase in business may have changed his methods. I felt much of his food ( on my last visit) was pre-made. Soto's small plates are the highlight of the restaurant and some have gone downhill IMO. His sushi was never anything to write home about.

              15 East : as I said many times, I think it is the best and the fish very high quality . The chef , traditionally trained in Japan.

              Ushiwakamaru: The fish is high quality. I am not a big fan however, just because the head chef didn't remember me when I returned. I have friends that are regulars and love the place. These are people who know sushi. Why the chef likes those giant mugs of beer when you buy him a beer is beyond me.

              Kanoyama: Largest assortment of Japanese fish I've seen in NYC. The chef is talented. His omakase leans toward many dishes besides sushi. Can be overly expensive.

              Ichimura at Brushstroke: Sushi chef with the best attitude one can have. His style of aging and curing is admirable. High quality fish. A great atmosphere for eating sushi. I like this place very much.

              Blue Ribbon Izakaya: Very much underrated. Omakase at the sushi bar with head chef is the only way to do it here. The head chef is quite talented. he has worked at Sushi Ann and Sushi Seki and Hatsuhana. He is knowledgeable and creative. The sushi/sashimi is excellent and an excellent deal. My only gripe is they don't use fresh wasabi.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                This is so spot on! I feel as though you're my more advanced doppelganger. ;)

                - I do go too Yasuda post-Yasuda, but I very much hear you about the management. The whole numbered reservation and reminder about 90 minutes over the phone (not enforced) is such a put-off.

                - I have lunch at Sasabune sometimes, and enjoy the "Japanese-style" omakase, although the variance is zero so I have been worn down by the schtick. The Sasabune warm-rice thing is all over LA, but even there is getting tired

                - SushiAnn was my first foray into serious sushi, and holds a soft spot for me. That's where I had some of my initial omakase experiences, and the negi-toro roll with Japanese pickles at the end is fab.

                - I've had omakase twice at Soto, and both times Soto-san was his usual curmudgeon self and I did notice a lot of the small dishes being pulled from under the counter, i.e., pre-prepared. Neither time was I blown away. There's a restaurant in Atlanta that I frequent, Tomo, which is a very similar style. The chefs are buddies

                - 15 East. I have not had with the Japanese chef, so my experiences (twice for lunch) have been ehh. I absolutely have to go again

                - Ushi. This was a little too hipster for me, and I was put off by all the spicy-tuna roll orders.

                - I have not done Kanoyama, but definitely want to check out

                - Ichimura is on the top of my to-do list. I absolutely love the idea of aging the fish.

                - Blue Ribbon has scared me away because of the fake wasabi. I was there once and considered it pedestrian, but did not give it a fair shot as I was confined to a table on a business meeting

                If you're willing to continue...thoughts on Sushi Dojo, KarumaZushi, Azabu, Seki, and Gari UES? That about covers my sushi knowledge base...although Nakazawa looms on the horizon.

                1. re: dndicicco

                  I find BR Izakaya on the LES to be of better quality than BR Sushi in Soho. Which were you at?

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Good call. I'm so Philadelphia that I don't differentiate between SoHo and LES!! ;)

                    It's been about four years, so I can't quite recall but it was very big and dark, not that that helps.

                    1. re: dndicicco

                      BR Izakaya is only 2.5 years old, so it was probably the Soho one.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        But it's certainly not 'very big". At all. Maybe he was even at the BR Grill uptown.

                        1. re: thegforceny

                          I'm starting to doubt my memory completely. 4 years ago and many, many sushi restaurants later has made things hazy. The sushi was very unmemorable, but again I was at a table and it was lunch. My sushi palate at that point had only begun to branch out from the barest of basics, so appreciation was far from my mind.

                2. re: foodwhisperer

                  As a side note, I was checking out the Yelp reviews of Kanoyama, and I'm very intrigued by their omakase. It looks as though they plate all the nigiri or sashimi at once, which is a bummer, however, that extra-long anago looks delicious! The fish does seem to be very varied, and especially fresh from the pictures. I don't mind the occasional cooked dish, such as a kama or grilled fish head. Not too crazy about all the fried items, however, although I'm sure they appeal to the East Asian palate!

                  1. re: dndicicco

                    There is the Kanoyama omakase "set" which is a value priced plate... And then their actual omakase at the bar. Totally different.

                    1. re: dndicicco

                      Sashimi is usually plated at once, at many high end places. Sushi is one at a time, at Kanoyama and elsewhere.]
                      The omakase is excellent at Kanoyama, with dishes you won't get else where. That being said you don't pay a set price, omakase is charged by the individual dish. If he gives you the grilled Hamo ( conger dagger tooth eel or pike) it will cost you about $35 ( so I'd say skip it). The chef is an artist, and regardless of anything said on yelp, it is a worthwhile place to do omakase. Also a huge assortment of fresh oysters, as well as fish from japan. When the Japanese Consulate and high government officials from Japan were here 2 years ago, they booked the whole sushi bar and some tables at Kanoyama. That was their choice of Japanese restaurants.
                      PS as far as Blue Ribbon Izakaya goes LES, goes, it is certainly a big if not huge place. It is certainly loud , and after 6 PM it can be dark.

              2. Yasuda is undergoing a renovation these days, so make sure to call ahead. I passed by this morning and I can't see it reopening in less than another ten days.
                [Still, I'm not a contractor; it could be back up by this weekend! They're definitely doing a root canal on that (usually beautiful) space, though.]

                There's Sakegura right across the street, of course: a wonderful place, but certainly a koi of a different colour.