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Sushi Yasuda vs. Kuruma Zushi


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Interesting. Not once was the word omekase used at either Kuruma or Yasuda. I simply sat down to eat sushi and sashimi and I was given what the chef wanted me to have. I didn't complain nor did I have need to. All I did was enjoy.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Interesting. Not once was the word omekase used at either Kuruma or Yasuda. I simply sat down to eat sushi and sashimi and I was given what the chef wanted me to have. I didn't complain nor did I have need to. All I did was enjoy.

In Japan, you would generally only ask for omakase if you want the chef to decide everything. It is also pretty common to start off at a sushi bar saying you would like an assortment of sashimi and asking what is good that day. They chef will happily recommend a few things. You can then ask for more recommendations or intersperse your own specific requests with the chef's choices. Then move to nigiri, maki, etc. Admittedly, the back and forth is a little easier if you speak some Japanese but can also be accomplished with pretty limited vocabulary.

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Admittedly, the back and forth is a little easier if you speak some Japanese but can also be accomplished with pretty limited vocabulary.

The back and forth with Yasuda is easy in English and there's a lot of back and forth with Yasuda asking what you like and what you've had before. It's an interactive experience and he's not got a set menu or order in his mind of the one size fits all diners.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Since this level of sushi was entirely new to me I was more than happy to leave the driving to the chefs. That the price, especially at Kuruma was as high as it was surprised me in that I expected it to be expensive, but not that expensive. I'm not complaining about the cost, just registering my naivete. Both meals were exceptional. It is just that at those prices I would much sooner and more frequently return to Yasuda.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 3 weeks later...

Boy does this thread have me wanting to try Kurumazushi. Here's a question, though: when I look it up at citysearch, the reviews are mostly bad, sometimes almost brutally so-- both about food and service. Since all of you who have been there had very positive experiences, do you have any thoughts on why those people had such different experiences?

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Boy does this thread have me wanting to try Kurumazushi.  Here's a question, though:  when I look it up at citysearch, the reviews are mostly bad, sometimes almost brutally so-- both about food and service.  Since all of you who have been there had very positive experiences, do you have any thoughts on why those people had such different experiences?

My feeling is that Kuruma (along with Masa and to some extent Yasuda also) is not a place for clients just starting to learn or beginning their relationship with sushi. It is, after all, "just fish and rice". I think there is a very fine line between very good and truly great in sushi and it takes a certain amount of experience to appreciate the difference. Because of the high cost of Kuruma the expectation is high. I personally think that a wide disparity of opinions about any restaurant is a good sign; it encourages one to find out for him or herself. It is also worth noting that the very positive reviews of Kuruma at many sites tend to be from an older, more traditional Japanese clientele, a good sign.

What do I know? I have been in a very obvious minority in my preference for Kuruma on this site but to me, there is a beauty to that. My Japanese friends and acquaintances continue to say that nothing comes close in terms of the fish quality at Kuruma, including Masa to most of them, and I tend to agree.

Go check it out.

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Well Milla, I and my partner in culinary crime plan to try Kuruma ourselves. This forum is going to be dangerous to my pocketbook and my waistline! :blink:

Is it like Yasuda where you can make reservations for the sushi bar? We spent about $120 apiece at Yasuda and I would be uncomfortable spending anymore than that. Is it possible to keep it to $120 apiece and still have a good experience?

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Boy does this thread have me wanting to try Kurumazushi.  Here's a question, though:  when I look it up at citysearch, the reviews are mostly bad, sometimes almost brutally so-- both about food and service.  Since all of you who have been there had very positive experiences, do you have any thoughts on why those people had such different experiences?

There are many possible reasons. The most likely in my mind is that Citysearch reviews, like Zagat reviews, come from people with a wide range of experience with food. So you can't trust that their opinion will even resemble your opinion of the same food.

Some of the citysearch responses to Kuruma are laughably uninformed.

Of course all top sushi restaurants have the same fresh fish, because they all get it from Fultons Market as any avid Sushi fan knowsmake this perfectly clear
Sometimes I take my boys to a decent place called Haru, it's 100 times better than this place. I despise, and let me make this perfectly clear, I DESPISE KURUMA ZUSHI.

Some are price-obsessed.

but the truth of the matter is Kuruma Zushi does not need you, they have a clientel of very wealthy Japanese buisnessman that frequent their place, whom don't know any better, and don't mind shoveling out $450 for 3rd rate sushi.

For them, all Kuruma is is overpriced sushi -- as Milla said, just fish and rice. If you can't appreciate the difference between Haru and Kuruma, there is no way you'll accept the $200 premium that you pay to eat at the latter. But even for people with experience with good food, when you're paying $300 for anything, your expectations are extremely high, and any disappointment, however minor, becomes more significant. Some people can criticize while keeping their heads (i.e. docsconz at ADNY). Others get hostile, exaggerating, though not always intentionally, the negative aspects of their meal. To whom, I wonder, would Kuruma's sushi truly qualify as third rate, as some citysearch responders described it?

We spent about $120 apiece at Yasuda and I would be uncomfortable spending anymore than that. Is it possible to keep it to $120 apiece and still have a good experience?

Remember, you are paying for luxury when you order all out omakase. If you a order a set or by piece, you're getting the same quality fish and the same rice. A sushi chef is not doing his or her job if the only way you can have a great experience is by going all out. I've spent $60 on Yasuda at dinner. If you were so inclined $60 could buy you as much as 20 pieces!

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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I have been in a very obvious minority in my preference for Kuruma on this site but to me, there is a beauty to that. My Japanese friends and acquaintances continue to say that nothing comes close in terms of the fish quality at Kuruma, including Masa to most of them, and I tend to agree.

Go check it out.

I'm a bit close minded in my preference for Sushi Yasuda over Kuruma, but I've only been to Kuruma twice -- and got a set both times. It's much closer in style -- the size, the rice -- to the sushi I ate at Miyako, a very traditional and excellent sushi-ya in Tokyo. But based on your recommendation and expertise, I might have to give in and give it another shot. Damn you.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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I have been in a very obvious minority in my preference for Kuruma on this site but to me, there is a beauty to that. My Japanese friends and acquaintances continue to say that nothing comes close in terms of the fish quality at Kuruma, including Masa to most of them, and I tend to agree.

Go check it out.

I'm a bit close minded in my preference for Sushi Yasuda over Kuruma, but I've only been to Kuruma twice -- and got a set both times. It's much closer in style -- the size, the rice -- to the sushi I ate at Miyako, a very traditional and excellent sushi-ya in Tokyo. But based on your recommendation and expertise, I might have to give in and give it another shot. Damn you.

i smell a lunch opportunity together next time i am in NYC... :smile:

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Well Milla, I and my partner in culinary crime plan to try Kuruma ourselves. This forum is going to be dangerous to my pocketbook and my waistline!  :blink:

Is it like Yasuda where you can make reservations for the sushi bar? We spent about $120 apiece at Yasuda and I would be uncomfortable spending anymore than that. Is it possible to keep it to $120 apiece and still have a good experience?

You can call ahead and make a lunch reservation at the bar. When you are there DO NOT be afraid to tell them how much you want to spend. Tell him you would like to try his best in your price range. I think you will find them more than accomodating.

Don't forget to post... :smile:

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You can call ahead and make a lunch reservation at the bar.  When you are there DO NOT be afraid to tell them how much you want to spend. Tell him you would like to try his best in your price range. I think you will find them more than accomodating.

Don't forget to post... :smile:

Hmmm, lunch is out. I work downtown. I'll just have to try for a dinner reservation. I thought I'd have my new digital camera next Tuesday but it won't arrive by then. So no pics.

If you can't appreciate the difference between Haru and Kuruma..

That's a seriously scary thought, JJ. :shock:

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I have been in a very obvious minority in my preference for Kuruma on this site but to me, there is a beauty to that. My Japanese friends and acquaintances continue to say that nothing comes close in terms of the fish quality at Kuruma, including Masa to most of them, and I tend to agree.

Go check it out.

I'm a bit close minded in my preference for Sushi Yasuda over Kuruma, but I've only been to Kuruma twice -- and got a set both times. It's much closer in style -- the size, the rice -- to the sushi I ate at Miyako, a very traditional and excellent sushi-ya in Tokyo. But based on your recommendation and expertise, I might have to give in and give it another shot. Damn you.

i smell a lunch opportunity together next time i am in NYC... :smile:

I smell that, too! :biggrin:

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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This may be of interest with regard to the thread.

You can find some comments on NY's sushi places here.

It's definitely of interest, primarily because it doesn't include Sushi Yasuda. One wonders what the story is behind that seemingly impossible-to-justify decision.

Might be worth discussing some other points on another topic.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have been in a very obvious minority in my preference for Kuruma on this site but to me, there is a beauty to that. My Japanese friends and acquaintances continue to say that nothing comes close in terms of the fish quality at Kuruma, including Masa to most of them, and I tend to agree.

Go check it out.

I'm a bit close minded in my preference for Sushi Yasuda over Kuruma, but I've only been to Kuruma twice -- and got a set both times. It's much closer in style -- the size, the rice -- to the sushi I ate at Miyako, a very traditional and excellent sushi-ya in Tokyo. But based on your recommendation and expertise, I might have to give in and give it another shot. Damn you.

i smell a lunch opportunity together next time i am in NYC... :smile:

I smell that, too! :biggrin:

I don't know if it could work out for me, but if it could I would love to join you. :biggrin:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful, informed replies-- I appreciate your thoughts. And you've convinced me to give Kurumazushi a shot-- this is shaping up to be a costly, incredibly delicious trip. I'll be posting a full report when I finally get to New York!

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  • 3 weeks later...

It looks like I'll be making a second quick trip to NYC, but my schedule is a bit dependent on what others end up doing, so it won't be possible to plan out my eating as carefully as I'd like. If I find I have time, would it be possible to just walk up to Yasuda or Kuruma for lunch and get a seat at the bar (for 1) without a reservation?

Edited by sakana (log)
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It looks like I'll be making a second quick trip to NYC, but my schedule is a bit dependent on what others end up doing, so it won't be possible to plan out my eating as carefully as I'd like.  If I find I have time, would it be possible to just walk up to Yasuda or Kuruma for lunch and get a seat at the bar (for 1) without a reservation?

Do you feel lucky?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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It looks like I'll be making a second quick trip to NYC, but my schedule is a bit dependent on what others end up doing, so it won't be possible to plan out my eating as carefully as I'd like.  If I find I have time, would it be possible to just walk up to Yasuda or Kuruma for lunch and get a seat at the bar (for 1) without a reservation?

The two times I went to Kuruma for lunch, the bar was almost empty. At Yasuda, you can definitely get a seat at the bar at lunch, it just might not be at Yasuda's end of the bar.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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It looks like I'll be making a second quick trip to NYC, but my schedule is a bit dependent on what others end up doing, so it won't be possible to plan out my eating as carefully as I'd like.  If I find I have time, would it be possible to just walk up to Yasuda or Kuruma for lunch and get a seat at the bar (for 1) without a reservation?

The two times I went to Kuruma for lunch, the bar was almost empty. At Yasuda, you can definitely get a seat at the bar at lunch, it just might not be at Yasuda's end of the bar.

Excellent-- thanks, JJ. Am I correct in assuming that I can potentially have the same experience (in terms of food) at lunch as I would have at dinner at both places?

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Excellent-- thanks, JJ.  Am I correct in assuming that I can potentially have the same experience (in terms of food) at lunch as I would have at dinner at both places?

I know you can at Yasuda, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be able to at Kuruma. Can't wait to read your report!

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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  • 1 month later...

Finally had dinner at Yasuda last night, and the experience was just as wonderful as this thread had led me to expect. I sat right in front of Yasuda and had phenomenal fish while talking (in great detail, oddly enough) about old-school, American professional wrestling. Who knew a man could know so much about sushi AND wrestling? I didn't take any pictures and my memory is not reliable enough to list everything I ate, but the things that stood out most were the 2 different kids of uni (prepared differently and with distinctly different tastes), eel prepared 2 ways, oyster, and trout, which I'd never had before. Each piece was of a perfect size, and the rice was amazing-- warm and welcoming, and just sticky enough. I'm someone who rarely notices the rice, but Yasuda's work serves as a reminder to me that, when it's prepared with care, the rice significantly enhances the taste and texture of each bite. In response to my questions about his use of salt, Yasuda put pinches of both kinds that he uses in front of me, inviting me to taste and feel the differences-- I love that he's so engaged with his customers, and loves what he does enough to share every bit of it with us.

In addition to discussed Dick the Bruiser and the British Bulldogs, I asked Yasuda quite a lot about his background. The most interesting thing he said when I asked why he came to the US, and to NYC in particular, was "I didn't care where I went, what I did. I just wanted to touch more fish, touch more rice." I assume this is an explanation he uses often when asked about his life, but it nevertheless seemed almost profound when coupled with his lamentation about the American cultural obsessed with names and labels and status...

I'll probably hit Kuruma for lunch later this week-- will I really not be frowned upon if I tell them up front how much I want to spend? And who do I tell? Is it bad form to tell the chef himself? Should I just tell the waitress? Both?

Edited by sakana (log)
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Finally had dinner at Yasuda last night, and the experience was just as wonderful as this thread had led me to expect.

...

I'll probably hit Kuruma for lunch later this week-- will I really not be frowned upon if I tell them up front how much I want to spend?  And who do I tell?  Is it bad form to tell the chef himself?  Should I just tell the waitress?  Both?

So glad you liked Yasuda! I had the same response to his sushi: I had known that sushi was supposed to be about the rice, but I'd never tasted what this meant.

In regard to Kuruma -- and this applies for all sushi bars -- never be afraid to tell the chef your spending limit. I supposed there are some chefs who when given a limit of $60 would serve you eight pieces of toro and rush you out. But a good chef will be happy to serve you less ostentatious fish and cuts of fish.

The few times I went to Kuruma during lunch, it was nearly empty. So you don't have to feel like you're displacing a big spender at the bar. Each time, I've ordered a set (about $30-40) plus a few extra pieces. You can tell either chef Uezu or his assistant, who incidentally is very interesting to talk to, as she is a she and is from, I think, the Dominican Republic, about your spending limit.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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