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The best sushi in NYC

From old-school restaurants to raw-fish newcomers, feast your eyes on the best sushi NYC has to offer

Photograph: Filip Wolak
Sushi Sasabune

New York has no shortage of Japanese food options, but how do you avoid shabby takeout tuna rolls and find yourself a truly exquisite sushi experience? We’ve whittled down our pick of Gotham’s best sushi restaurants, from no-nonsense sashimi spots and Midtown restaurants to fine dining toro palaces helmed by Michelin-star–toting toques. This is the best sushi NYC has to offer. 

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RECOMMENDED: See more of the best restaurants in NYC

Best sushi in NYC

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Sushi Yasuda

In 2011, Naomichi Yasuda shocked devotees of his lauded midtown stalwart—open since 1999—when he announced that he would be returning to Japan. Fans breathed a sigh of relief when he turned the simple maple counter over to longtime kitchen lieutenants Tatsuya Sekiguchi and Mitsuru Tamura. Reserve a seat at the bar of this bamboo-clad space to watch Tatsu and Mitsu—as they’re affectionately called by regulars—dispatch purist renditions of nigiri onto wooden trays in elegant, efficient movements. Like the old master, the pair eschew over-the-top combos, letting the primo seafood and their superior knife skills shine. They top rounds of lightly vinegar-moistened rice with beautiful seafood, like a meltingly soft slab of fatty tuna; a milky disk of sweet sea scallop; or baby purple squid brightened with shiso and wasabi. That top-shelf sourcing doesn’t come cheap, and reservations are booked out far in advance, but even without its namesake toque, this storied sushi den is still worth the price of admission: Yasuda would be proud.

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Midtown East
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Sushi Nakazawa

Last we saw Daisuke Nakazawa, he was toiling over egg custard as the modest apprentice in the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, humbled by the rigors of an 11-year stint under the world’s most distinguished sushi chef, Jiro Ono. Now, the pupil has emerged as the teacher at this sleek West Village sushi bar. Whereas his master was stoic, Nakazawa is a jokester who places a live squirming shrimp on your plate just for a laugh. But his pranks don’t undercut the seriousness of his nigiri, like pike mackerel, featuring a gentle brininess that gives way to unctuous maritime fat as you chew, and wild yellowtail from Hokkaido, with fatty tails that tantalizingly overhang rice so tenderly packed, it would fall to pieces if you looked at it funny. At times, delicately flavored creatures like scallops or fluke are outstripped by pungent wasabi or yuzu. But the meal is like a wave, its gentle lulls rendering the crests all the more thrilling.

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West Village
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15 East

At this glossy downtown spot—opened in 2007 by Marco Moreira (Tocqueville) and his wife, Jo-Ann Makovitzky—Jewel Bako vet Masato Shimizu presides over a nine-seat dark wood bar overlooking an airy high-ceilinged dining room. Shimizu employs first-rate seafood flown in from Japan, deftly molding lightly torched golden-eye snapper or luscious soy-lacquered cherry salmon on beds of loose toothsome grains. Creamy sweet Hokkaido uni, seasoned with a slick of soy sauce, is encased by a crisp nori strip, while fall-apart anago (sea eel) gets a light dip in sweet soy. Whipping out fish anatomy charts and well-worn books to show where the exceptional cuts of smooth, deep-red tuna come from, Shimizu schools novices and aficionados alike. Superlative nigiri with a side of education? We’ll happily sign up for instruction.

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Union Square
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Shuko

At this 20-seat sushi counter from rock-star chefs Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim—formerly of Neta—a cool $135 prompts an omakase (chef's selection) of exceptionally made edomaezushi served in its purest form, each lightly lacquered with soy and nestled atop a slip of warm, loosely packed rice. Luscious, marbled toro, a usually late-in-the-game cut affectionately known as the kobe beef of the sea, boldly arrives first, even before sweet Spanish mackerel with barely there shreds of young ginger or sea bream dabbed with plummy ume shiso. The cocksure shuffling, though initially jarring, is a kick hiccup to your usual omakase beat, a winking reminder that, even with the price hike, Lau and Kim haven’t completely shed their subtle sushi-dogma subversions.

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Greenwich Village
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Brushstroke

The restaurant, a collaboration with Osaka’s Tsuji Cooking Academy, brings kaiseki cuisine—the intricate, formal multicourse meals at the pinnacle of haute Japanese cooking—into a surprisingly relaxed and accessible setting. The dishes, gorgeously plated on handmade Japanese stoneware, flow like parts of a symphony, from muted petals of raw kombu-wrapped sea bass one night to a rich and restorative black truffle custard, with crab underneath and sweet mirin on top. A feast here builds toward a subtle climax, asparagus tips with pristine lobes of uni leading to silky black cod with watercress sauce and crumbled pistachios. Beautiful pink slivered duck breast with smoky charred eggplant yields to earthy stewed pork cheeks (an inspired swap for ubiquitous belly) with cider reduction and green apple puree.

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Tribeca
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Sasabune NY

“Trust me” isn’t exactly what you want to hear when you’re about to nosedive into the oft-sketchy world of raw fish (the tainted-tuna tour of 2012 hit a whopping 26 states), but it’s the well-earned M.O. of this UES sushi nook, opened in 2006. And trust you should—owner-chef Kenji Takahashi rolls out a no-nonsense, at-whim menu of top-tier seafood to rival more highfalutin Japanese dens, without the sucker-punch price. Walk through an unassuming storefront—marked with naysaying signs warning NO CALIFORNIA ROLL, NO SPICY TUNA—and score seats at the tight-squeeze bamboo counter. There, Takahashi speedily transforms daily market finds into raw marvels: a mosaic of lardy albacore slicked with tart ponzu sake sauce; creamy Scottish salmon hooded with satiny kelp and a nutty pinch of sesame seeds on top of still-warm rice; and a bright ikura (salmon roe) roll, briny pearls popping loudly inside a crisp nori wrap. The spartan decor is definitely wanting, and servers bellowing “No soy sauce!” is the closest you’ll get to mood music, but for dreamy slips of pristine nigiri, in Takahashi we trust.

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Lenox Hill
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Kuruma Zushi

If there’s a jollier sushi chef in New York, we don’t know who it is—Toshihiro Uezu’s friendly mug has been welcoming raw-fish cognoscenti and rookies alike at this venerable toro temple since 1977, a gaiety that belies the seriousness of his skill. Perched on the second floor of a dingy midtown building, Uezu’s 12-person sushi bar turns out jaw-dropping nigiri in its purest, most traditional form, delivered from his hands to yours: glistening slabs of kanpachi belly, shiny silver skin still intact; buttery otoro melting moments after hitting the tongue; and fluke so fresh you can see through it. This is no-bells-and-whistles sushi—the most adornment Uezu employs is a dash of ponzu or scallion curls, instead focusing attention on the überhigh quality of the seafood, the masterfully tempered rice and the fresh wasabi (more delicate and subtle than the sinus-searing powdered junk, typically just food-colored horseradish). Uezu may just prove your stubborn grandfather right—maybe old-school is the right way.

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Midtown East
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Sushi Seki

Where do big-league toques like Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud go to sate their late-night fish cravings? Chef Seki’s cultish sushi gem has served as a sake-fueled second-dinner spot for after-hours chefs and clued-in locals since opening in 2002, plying nonpurist flavor combos until 3am. For five years, Seki trained under Sushi of Gari’s whimsical head, Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio, and the influence is reflected in the inventive menu: Creamsicle-hued salmon topped with scallion sauce and a crispy fried kelp shard; bluefin tuna dotted with oniony tofu crème fraîche; and young yellowtail crowned with slivered jalapeño, a Gari signature. The late hours lend a boozy, jovial atmosphere—maître d’ Koji Ohneda bustles between the sushi counter in front and the rowdier dining room in back, pouring sake into quickly emptied cups, but don’t drink too much—you’ll want to remember Seki’s artful, picture-perfect offerings with more than just Instagram’s help.

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Lenox Hill
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Masa

A transcendent bite of top-grade toro is priceless. But at Masa, that melt-in-your-mouth morsel comes at a cost—a whole meal is a cool $450 before tax, tip and sake, to be exact. Masa Takayama’s extravagant raw-fish emporium has been a once-in-a-lifetime destination for sushi devotees since it opened on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center in 2004. Parked next to the equally ritzy Per Se, Masa represents all-out indulgence: At the bar—made of a $60,000 piece of rare Japanese hinoki wood—Takayama and his acolytes lavishly press shaved truffles into lightly warmed rice beds, before topping them with kingly sea bream; sumptuously enrich risotto with uni and truffle butter; and fill their shabu-shabu pots with slabs of foie gras and fresh lobster. It’s a luxury that few but deep-pocketed whales can afford, but Takayama’s three-Michelin-starred gem is cross-off-your-bucket-list dining at its finest.

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Upper West Side
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Sushi of Gari

Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio made waves when he debuted this minichain in 1997, becoming a New York pioneer in avant-garde pairings, such as jalapeño-topped yellowtail and Japanese red snapper with wilted greens, pine nuts and crispy lotus root. Sugio’s fanciful creations continue to draw thrill-seeking Japanophiles to his tony Upper East Side flagship, where they shell out a hefty sum for a pay-per-piece spot at the L-shaped bar. Tiny beds of slightly tart rice come out in quick succession: pepper-oil–slicked tuna tempered by a creamy dollop of tofu sauce; silky truffle-oil–dotted fluke boosted by a quivering poached quail egg; and rich Spanish mackerel offset by earthy enoki and shiitake mushrooms. The decor may be simple—dark red banquettes, black lacquer tables—but at Gari, all eyes are on the plate.

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Upper East Side
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See the best sushi restaurants in America

Comments

19 comments
Oliver G
Oliver G

15 East - we are coming - we had a amazing Omakase in Tokyo at Sushi Aoki and the head chef gave us your card and we are excited - anyone in Tokyo looking for world class sushi need look no further than Aoki - cheers

D. F
D. F

I agree about Uncle Jack's Steakhouse on 34th/9th in midtown.  I was surprised to find out that they closed up their party room to turn it into a dedicated sushi bar---but it appears that even among steak carnivores there is a demand for sushi, especially quality sushi and sashimi where the chef is making different specialty concoctions.  I was going into Uncle Jack's Steakhouse for one of their ribeyes---but wound up ordering an assorted sushi platter, and I did not miss the ribeye,  This sushi was the perfect substitute, I did not feel deprived.

Chuck D
Chuck D

Very helpful article. There are so many different sushi places to choose from....Uncle Jack's Steakhouse, one of my long-time favorite restaurants in NYC, just started a new sushi bar....just the other day, I tried their Black Pepper Tuna Roll, which was scrumptious. The tuna was very fresh, and the avocado and cucumber complimented it perfectly. I highly recommend trying Uncle Jack's sushi...you won't regret it!

Jack R
Jack R

It's a good post!! Well, you will find a series of sushi restaurants in NYC but your main concern is that where to get your favourite sushi in excellent taste. Just Visit at Jack's Sliders and Sushi and find an amazing taste of Sushi.

Eric B
Eric B

Great article. There are a few great sushi places around times square, I do not know any specific addresses, but every single sushi place I have been to around there has turned out to be great. Thank you so much for this article and sharing the info with us, I think I will look a few of these up when I get the chance.


Eric | http://www.pinkrice.com.au 

Jack R
Jack R

The greater share of sushi restaurants in New York catalog.

Robbertjack
Robbertjack

I must say nice list that you have shared with all readers and according to me everyone should enjoy the Japanese food before die because it is awesome in taste.I ever love to eat this cuisine even I try to find such kind of hotels and restaurants to dine during my tours. Here I am grateful to you for this list because these days I am going to have some fun with 3 day tour from new york to niagara falls by http://www.getbustours.com/3-Day-York-to-Niagara-Falls-Philadelphia-and-Washington-DC-Tour.html. I hope it will enjoy there a lot. .

The Sushi Legend
The Sushi Legend

Fine list,  but shocked that Sushi Dojo or Tanoshi are not on there and Sushi of Gari is. I have Dojo and Tanoshi (among others) ranked very highly on my NYC-centric, sushi blog (www.thesushilegend.com)

David H
David H

OK, the only people who can afford these prices are the same affluent people who can afford to buy a luxury highrise or pay $5000 a month for a studio. These restaurants are not for any of us who actually work for a living.  How about showcasing some AFFORDABLE options instead of pandering to the likes of Trump and the city's landlords.

Jeff P
Jeff P

Any list of superior sushi places in the big apple that doesn't include Hakubai is a joke.  And not a funny one.

Norbu gurung
Norbu gurung

Lobster place at the chelsea market has the best sushi in nyc. No doubt

ela
ela

u better be kidding ... sushi soto is one of the best clearly whom ever wrote it has never been to japan and his knowledge is lucking

maria bianchi
maria bianchi

for me ..... i love 15 east, .... the best !!

AFineLyne
AFineLyne

You missed a really good one. Fairly new, so you may not be aware. Jado Sushi on 8th Ave between 114th St & 115th St. Don't forget to try desert. 2 recommendations from me - Peanut Butter Pie and Mango Cheesecake.

Jeff P
Jeff P

@AFineLyne Right.  Those sound like really japanese desserts.  not.