The Raw Deal
It’s hard to believe that sushi, such a prevalent delicacy in New York City, only made its way onto American soil about five decades ago. However, it wasn’t long before the fare went from an insider’s secret to an abundance that extends to nearly every grocery in the United States. Thanks to master chefs like Toshio Suzuki at Sushi Zen—Manhattan’s pinnacle of sushi—the beauty, simplicity, and joy of the sushi tradition are kept alive. But there are plenty of other exceptional sushi establishments in the city. Here’s our rundown of New York’s can’t-miss sushi restaurants.
All or Nothing
If you’re hankering for unparalleled sushi in Brooklyn, head over to 1 or 8, a South Williamsburg hideout on South 2nd Street that takes its name from a Japanese phrase meaning “all or nothing.” Past the narrow bar entrance, patrons are met by a bright, all-white dining room, where the yellow-lit chef’s kitchen shines like a beacon along the left wall. The horse mackerel on the nagiri list is a must-try, but if you’re seeking a creative take on makimono, we recommend the mushroom tuna roll—sautéed mushroom, red pepper, and asparagus that’s topped with seared tuna and ají amarillo sauce.
Master of Tradition
When it comes to sushi, the Japanese employ a tradition of keeping the sushi master in sight, preparatory skills on display. This is mark of high-quality sushi, and it’s a tradition that Sotohiro Kosugi adheres to at Soto, an intimate, 42-seat hidden gem in Greenwich Village. Kosugi, a third-generation sushi chef, works with fresh seasonal fish that’s flown in from all parts of the globe. Try the scallop-and-shiso agedashi, which delivers a confluence of subtle flavors in one delicious bite.
Kanoyama may be your best bet for a casual, relatively affordable omakase—a chef’s tasting menu—in the East Village, but don’t be fooled by the lack of sky-high prices. For years, this well-kept secret has been serving some of the best-quality sushi and toro dishes in the city. The chefs here emphasize knowledge about and selection of the best fish. Some are sourced from nearby Maine and less-near California, while others are caught off the coast of Japan. Insider’s tip: Bypass the raucous crowd in the front of the restaurant for the quieter walnut bar in the back.
A Good Start
At Jewel Bako, a bamboo-accented East Village sushi haven, the selection of fresh sashimi and hand rolls is top notch, but we were most impressed with the restaurant’s standout appetizers. A trio of tartares—bluefin tuna, salmon, and yellowtail, served with sweet potato chips—and the seaweed salad (served with a tamari sesame vinaigrette) are certain to get any meal off to a good start. An extensive sake and wine selection rounds out the menu, but don’t overlook the bar’s noteworthy sake martini.
Hamachi in Hiding
Kyo Ya is hidden away in a recessed space just off of 7th Street and 1st Avenue—so hidden, in fact, that the gleaming “open” sign out front is the only indication that the place exists. Once inside, diners are treated to an all-wood decor, but the cuisine remains the star of the show. You’ll be hard-pressed to find much information about Kyo Ya online; however, frequent diners recommend the kaiseki menu, which boasts several seasonal dishes.