New York’s 12 Best Sushi Spots
No one could have ever predicted that an ancient method of preserving fish would have changed the way the world eats. What was once street food in Japan grew to be something of an art form. Fast forward a few centuries, head a bit west, and you have a city full of sushi enthusiasts: New York.
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From take-out shops in the East Village to top-rated restaurants in Midtown, there’s a sushi spot for every kind of palate (and spender) in the five boroughs—and New Yorkers are a tough crowd to please. The following 11 spots provide a guide to the city’s best omakase (chef’s choice) menus, inventive rolls, and perfectly sliced sashimi.
Somewhere between a wooden shack and a boat deck is the best way to describe what it’s like to be at Tomoe Sushi in the West Village. The list of choices is endless…that is once you’re done waiting for a table. Be sure to sample the ika-maru (broiled squid in a zesty ginger sauce).
If sushi is art, then Sushi Yasuda is akin to the MoMA. Opened in 1999, this Midtown restaurant prepares sushi with unrivaled attention to detail. The rice is cooked in charcoal-infused water and each day’s arrival of fish is scrutinized to look for the outstanding. Pull up a chair at the bar for the best seat in the house.
When renowned chef David Bouley called upon Tokyo-educated sushi chef Eiji Ichimura, no one expected anything less than something stellar. And stellar sushi is what was received. Traditions are held dear, but this being New York, a bit of experimentation is also at play. The menus are tailored to the diner, and include everything from tuna to geoduck.
Neighborhood sushi hotspot meets graffiti artist studio at this Prospects Heights, Brooklyn restaurant. Veterans of the area since 1985, the folks at Geido make sushi that’s fun and inventive, while still holding true to tradition. And if you stick around late enough, the owner might just pour you a gratis glass of top-shelf shōchū.
Leave it to Williamsburg to put a spin on sushi. At Bozu rolls are revamped into “bombs:” balls of rice topped with everything from spicy scallop to crunchy daikon. Order the party platter and top it off with an ice cold sake from Bozu’s extensive selection (served in kitschy square glasses).
Down-home Japanese small plates and sushi meet chic design-centric interiors at this Cobble Hill, Brooklyn corner spot. The Kyoto influence is clear with Hibino’s emphasis on daily obanzai selections—quite simply, small samplings of simmered seafood and veggies. The chirashi (sashimi and an omelet over a bowl of rice) is also a must.
With only 15 seats and a partial kitchen, you might simply pass by Bugs in the East Village and not even think twice. But behind its doors is Chef Sho Boo, trained by the best at Sushi Yasuda, but wandering her own path. Each piece of sushi receives special treatment (think: fancy salts and imaginative sauces) before it’s yours to swallow.
Most of the fish arrives at Kura’s 130 St. Marks Place outpost directly from Nippon, and there is no menu in sight, except for the one behind the Chef Norihiro Ishizuka’s eyelids, who prepares bites right in front of you. But it’s the kappo dishes that elevate the experience—seasonally inspired dishes that run the gamut from land to sea.
For those willing to travel the distance for good food (here’s looking at you, mirror), there’s Tanoshi Sushi Sake Bar in Yorkville. Chef Toshio concocts his own special soy sauce, called nikiri, which is brushed over the fish. After years in Tokyo’s Ginza district, he somehow landed uptown churning out a tasting menu that includes kelp-cured fluke and sakura kampachi.
Shuko, one of the city’s newer raw fish purveyors, was opened by Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau (formerly of Masa) in late 2014. Pricing is steep ($175 for a kaiseki omakase tasting menu) but the results are well worth depleting some funds. Expect perfectly sliced cuts of ocean trout, shellfish, and toro topped with potent Thai bird’s eye chili to go with thoughtfully prepared cocktails.
Edomae sushi is the prevailing form of sushi worldwide, with its origins in the Tokyo of yesteryear. Classically trained chefs like Daisuke Nakazawa, of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” fame, pay a ridiculous amount of attention to vinegared rice and fish so soft it melts on the tongue. The twenty-course omakase menu at Sushi Nakazawa does just that—but for discerning New York mouths.
Some might argue that a restaurant like Sushi Katsuei belongs in Manhattan, but Park Slope denizens shouldn’t have to cross a river to get good fish. The omakase menu lets the chefs showcase the best fish of the day, with bites like yellowtail topped with shiso paste, or buttery Arctic char. Just don’t ask for any soy sauce—this nigiri is perfect as is.