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James Kessler

THE BEST: Sushi in Manhattan

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Ok, I've scoured EGullet's New York threads, and found no posts that directly confront this question head-on. Of all of the traditional sushi places in Manhattan, which one takes the prize as the best of the best? I am interested in seeing just how good a sushi experience I can have inside the confines of Manhattan. Sure, there may be great places nearby, in outer boroughs and beyond, but for the purposes of this thread, let's just stay on Manhattan, shall we?

Now some people may come right out and insist that Masa automatically wins. I would like to be convinced more thoroughly of that before I plunk down that big a percentage of my income. Perhaps a place like Sushi Yasuda has more people won over, at less than half the price. I am also aware that Morimoto has plans to open in NYC relatively soon. Many will insist that I wait until that opening because Morimoto will surely best anything currently open in NYC. Well, that may be true or it may not be true. For the sake of this thread, let's only debate places that are CURRENTLY open.

Now I will leave the debate to all of you experts. I, who have never eaten sushi in Manhattan as of yet, cannot offer an informed opinion. I will simply state that I am not a newcomer to sushi and would like to upgrade my experience quotient as high as it can go short of a flight to Japan or going into debt for the next five years.

Enjoy the debate, and let's please keep it civil as always! :)


-James Kessler

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I really love Blue Ribbon. Some of the finest yeallowfin toro I have ever had.


"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." ~Winston Churchill

Morels- God's gift to the unworthy human species

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Masa and Morimoto you are paying for a lot more than the fish. And why does Morimoto automatically win?

At the top I'd place: Kurumazushi, Sushi Yasuda, Sushiden on a good night, and arguably, Komegashi and Esashi for what they are. Hatsuhana is also quite good. Haven't been to Jewel Bako but I heard that place slipped a lot.

Some of the best authentic places get lower ratings here because they do authentic sizes, not the steroidization a lot of sushi undergoes here. You're supposed to be able to eat nigirizushi in one bite...

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For straight-ahead sushi, Yasuda gets my vote. They have the best rice, a great selection of fish (the Sockeye salmon when in season is killer) and make things in proper proportion. I'm not a fan of the Orca sized sushi that seems to be so popular in the USA.

For less money, my regular favorite is the downstairs bar at the original Hatsuhana (17 East 48th) with Seki running the show. Seki San has been there for about twenty years and has worked with several top Sushi Chefs, including Yasuda.

Not the best sushi but the most fun is Bond Street. Try a Saketini to get things started. :wink:


Edited by Felonius (log)

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I've been to all the "top" places, and here are my reccomendations:

Yasuda, for a very traditional experience

Gari, for a creative $us$hifest

But in the end, I always end up going to a small place called Kirara, on Carmine St. Their fish is by far as fresh as any place in Manhattan, and their prices are extremely fair. I could practically eat there every week!

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Yeh, Gari is a place I just cant get into.. It just seems like a rich persons safety sushi place.. It reminds me of what LCB is.. Solid food, very expensive, nothing ground breaking or superb..I went to Gari the other day.. Dropped three bills and would have been happier eating at home..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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Yeh, Gari is a place I just cant get into.. It just seems like a rich persons safety sushi place.. It reminds me of what LCB is.. Solid food, very expensive, nothing ground breaking or superb..I went to Gari the other day.. Dropped three bills and would have been happier eating at home..

I'm with you on this. I've had mixed results at Gari on the West Side - sometimes great on the "creative" sushi, sometimes just OK. For the amount of money they charge, I'd rather just take a cab over to Yasuda.

Has anyone noticed if there's a difference between the UES and UWS Garis?

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Sushi seki for medium fatty toro ( I have eaten about 3,000 pieces

Masa for fugu and white truffle sushi

The servers at Gari east have HUGE attitude.....I wont return

Cleighe

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Masa and Morimoto you are paying for a lot more than the fish. And why does Morimoto automatically win?

At the top I'd place: Kurumazushi, Sushi Yasuda, Sushiden on a good night, and arguably, Komegashi and Esashi for what they are. Hatsuhana is also quite good. Haven't been to Jewel Bako but I heard that place slipped a lot.

Some of the best authentic places get lower ratings here because they do authentic sizes, not the steroidization a lot of sushi undergoes here. You're supposed to be able to eat nigirizushi in one bite...

Komegashi? That import from NJ on Broadway that is always empty? The one that got a horrid review from some paper, forgot which one? Might not really matter, but its Chinese BTW.

People have strong preferences in sushi.

I usually eat sushi with a Japanse friend of mine, Tokyo native and Wasada grad.

Sushi Seki is good.

Not impressed by either Yasuda or Gari-east.

Blue Ribbon is not good sushi.

Ushiwakamaru on Houston is good, probably better than Seki and its cheaper.

I have not eaten in Kurma in a long time, but if budget is no object, most Japansese in NY will say it is the place to go.

The sushi at Bar Masa is nothing special and is very overpriced.

The fish at Sugiyama is as good as any place, but it's a small part of the meal.

Tomoe, another place people talk about quite a bit, is nothing special.

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Waseda right? A lot of my friends are from there or aoyamagakuin

I agree about Ushiwakamaru. Chef is a super-nice guy too, very devoted. I meant to post that but forgot the name, he was out of cards that night...

You mean Komegashi got a bad review in a Chinese newspaper? I did read a bad review and felt it was undeserved. I think I it on here, and it was around the opening time. It's gotten a lot better. The chefs are all Japanese and the head is formerly from Kurumazushi and Nobu, so I think you're wrong there. No sushi conniesseur would eat at a chinese-run place, which is rough because Japanese run is the exception to the rule. Also, I said "for what it is", which is a bit of a spin on Sushi, but not like spicy tuna and sushisamba... I put Esashi up there because it's way downtown east village, but of a diamond in the rough, but I had an extremely good meal there -

People may have strong preferences, but there is a proper way to do it authentically, and that is hard to find -

Kurma you mean kurumazushi right?

I've had good sushi at the bar at Blue Ribbon. I've also had good sushi sitting at the bar at Tomoe, despite the gargantuan size. But downtown just suffers a notch.

Remember Sushihatsu? That place was the best for a long time...


Edited by raji (log)

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I mean that Kurma and I mean Waseda, I can't spell.

Komegashi is Chinese, the original ones are in NJ, there is one at Newport for example. Poor review in NY Mag (shows up in Google) and I think worse review somewhere else, in a pretty major publication. It's just a fusion place....not a serious sushi place....perhaps it changed ownership....it's near my office and it was closed for two weeks and then re-opened, although I don't think the menu changed.

Nobu is not a good place, it's not a place I would advertise my chefs as coming from. Zagat's notwithstanding.....

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"THE BEST: Sushi in Manhattan"... It depends who are you asking. I have heard people recommended Minado for all you can eat which I think is total crap. Komegashi is a wannabe "fusion" sushi joint owned by Chinese. Tomoe is pretty decent for the price but I vouch Sushi Yasuda for overall rating.


Leave the gun, take the canoli

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Yah no way an all-you-can-eat can be part of this conversation. Although, there was one in Udagawacho Shibuya that had this really great Toro.. but we're talking NY.

I definitely think there are an elite 5 restaurants and Yasuda is one of those...

All the chefs I met at Komegashi were Japanese and did a great job with traditional sushi and also their "reconstructionist" creations - so in terms of fusion, i've seen a lot worse. I thought their ownership might be Chinese - I don't really care as long as a trustworthy chef is buying the fish and preparing it...

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But in the end, I always end up going to a small place called Kirara, on Carmine St. Their fish is by far as fresh as any place in Manhattan, and their prices are extremely fair. I could practically eat there every week!

I second that. Kirara's fish is delicate, fresh, and moderately priced. The ambiance and service is always pleasant. It's my best sushi in Manhattan, taking value into consideration.


Drink maker, heart taker!

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Japonica, on 11th and University. Outstandingly fresh, succulent, and beautifully presented fish. Zero attitude from the staff, they are welcoming and pleasant. Serene and fairly authentic decor. I only wish it were easier to get a seat during peak times. And it can be a little expensive, but at least I always feel that I am getting what I pay for.

This is the sushi to which I compare all others...

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My sister's husband is Japanese, and I have spent quite a bit of time in Japan. Despite a fair amount of experience in this area, I don't claim any expertise. However, anyone who thinks that Yasuda is mediocre by NYC standards must be smoking something I'm not.......

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My sister's husband is Japanese, and I have spent quite a bit of time in Japan.  Despite a fair amount of experience in this area, I don't claim any expertise.  However, anyone who thinks that Yasuda is mediocre by NYC standards must be smoking something I'm not.......

Yasuda is about twice as expensive as say Ushiwakamaru, for sushi that in my opinion isn't as good. Yasuda is also a bit more expensive than Seki, and Seki is also a better sushi place. Yasuda is at least partly about marketing, it has a nice web site, fresh blond wood etc. If you speak Japanese and see Yasuda yell at his staff at they break things down at the end of the night, you'll understand what I mean. Yasuda is a place built for Americans who like a nice atmosphere. It's not bad, but it's expensive for what you get. I also prefer Seki to Gari.

Tsuki, on First Avenue near 75th, can turn out some good sushi, if you let the chef choose. It's just a local place, but it did make the NYT $25 and under column a few years back. They have things like live Uni, so it's not quite what it looks from the outside.

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Ichimura on 2nd Ave and 54th St.


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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I went to Kuruma Zushi and it blew me away just amazing. Of course it blew my wallet away as well but that is another story.

I used to go to Japonica all the time when I was going to NYU many, many years ago and it was decent, especially for the price, but definately not on par with Kuruma Zushi or even Sushiden on quality.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Wow, such great responses. I'm glad to see everyone chipping in their opinions. Many good points here. Please remember everyone, I don't mean to quell any conversations, and I enjoy reading about all of the places that you all like to visit regularly and/or consider good values for the dollar. However, the central point of this thread is meant to be the debate over which place is THE BEST. I'm talking a combination of both quality of sushi overall, and overall quality of experience including service and decor. Mainly we're talking about the food more than anything else though. So as much as I appreciate hearing about all of your favorite "regular" spots and such... I am more interested in all of your opinions about which particular place wins the overall prize for THE B-E-S-T.

While dollar value is not really much of a factor in this question, that shouldn't automatically allow Masa to win just because of its cost. So, let the debate continue!


-James Kessler

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Japonica, on 11th and University. Outstandingly fresh, succulent, and beautifully presented fish. Zero attitude from the staff, they are welcoming and pleasant. Serene and fairly authentic decor. I only wish it were easier to get a seat during peak times. And it can be a little expensive, but at least I always feel that I am getting what I pay for.

This is the sushi to which I compare all others...

Japonica seems to be quite popular, and yet I have absolutely no idea why. I was there once and, well, never returned. Oversized fish of somewhat decent quality.

The best sushi experience I've had in NYC was at Jewel Bako a couple years ago. So far my attempts to recreate that amazing meal have come up, very, very short. Something changed after the renovation, which seems to be the consensus. IMHO Yasuda-san is (consistently) making the finest sushi in these parts.


Edited by peter_nyc (log)

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I definitely think there are an elite 5 restaurants and Yasuda is one of those...

So what would you say are the other four?


-James Kessler

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Well to answer your 10:17 question, Kurumazushi is the B-E-S-T.

The other 3 I'd say would be Seki, which I haven't tried yet but as Sushihatsu that was the previous B-E-S-T, Sushiden and I guess Ushiwakamaru which I guess I have to go to again. I didn't have a proper meal there, the night I was there I was with a Sushiden exec and we joined the chef there. I have to catch up because I was in Tokyo for a few years!

Sounds like you are really going for the authentic sushi bar which to some of us, tastes the best.

Sugiyama and others are kaiseki...Bond Street, Nobu, Next Door, etc., I've been dragged to many times and I hate paying for the room, the name, the reviews, and the snooty people working there. I'm sure it will be more of the same with Morimoto. Don't get me wrong Nobu's signature dishes are, to this day, delicious, but the sushi and sashimi there are completely average. I'm sure they hook up Bobby D.

Anyway while not the most expensive place in Tokyo by a longshot here's a pic of Midorizushi of Umegaoka's aburiengawa which I still have dreams about jumping over fences. Just keep in mind that for the price of a meal at Kurumazushi, you can fly there.

gallery_34137_2200_89982.jpg

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Zutto off of 7th gets my vote, quiet low key fantasic food, no press just good chefs serving good food, let the old man cook for you, tell him you hate california rolls and salmon and you will get some crazy things that you have never tasted.

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