Best sushi restaurants in NYC

New York's finest Japanese spots for sashimi, sushi and other raw fish delicacies.

1/10

15 East

2/10

Masa

3/10
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Sushi Yasuda

4/10

Kuruma Zushi

5/10
Photograph: Marielle Solan

Ushiwakamaru

6/10
Photograph: Zenith Richards

Sushi Zen

7/10
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Brushstroke

8/10
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Seasonal rice at Neta

9/10

Sushi Azuba

10/10
Photograph: Hannah Mattix

Sushi of Gari

New York has long been home to the country's top sushi restaurants, with pristine seafood specimens flown in directly from Japan's Tsujiki market and skilled masters cutting fish for omakase blow-outs. Whether you're seeking out purist presentations or wildly creative rolls, we've scoped out the city's best Japanese joints. Take your pick of immaculate old-school temples, bare-bones hideaways and new downtown gems for your next sushi meal.

15 East

Critics' pick

Toqueville co-owner Marco Moreira has returned to his aquatic roots—he was trained as a sushi chef—in the restaurant’s former space. Architect Richard Bloch (Masa) has muted the colors and created a distinct sushi bar and dining room, turning what felt like a country inn into a solemn temple of Japanese cuisine. Sushi is very expensive (ten pieces of nigiri for $55, à la carte more punitive still), but consistently luscious: The scallop is as smooth as chocolate mousse, and almost as sweet. For tuna aficionados, a $75 sampler with six different cuts includes an otoro on par with the city’s best. Choose the raw offerings over the cooked (they still haven’t found their sea legs).

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Gramercy & Flatiron

Masa

Critics' pick

When world-renowned sushi chef Masa Takayama arrived in New York, he came offering the most expensive dining experience in the city’s history: $300 per person for his cheapest tasting menu, not including tax, wine or sake, or the mandatory 20 percent gratuity. To be clear, Takayama doesn’t overcharge for his meals: He overspends, and the mystique of it all—his exquisite materials, his rare ingredients and his labor-intensive techniques—can be lost on a diner who doesn’t know that the top-grade matsutake mushrooms, used in a small kettle of soup and again on a piece of sushi, cost around $50 a pound. Takayama doesn’t distract diners from the meal: The space is windowless and virtually colorless, and the tables are bare. The effect is that of eating in a temple. Takayama prepares each perfect bite-size gift, then places it in front of you on a round slate; you almost eat out of his hands, and the sushi seems to melt in your mouth. This process is, to some serious food lovers, a priceless experience.

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Upper West Side

Sushi Yasuda

Critics' pick

Seeing sushi masters practice in this bamboo-embellished space is the culinary equivalent of observing Buddhist monks at prayer. Counter seating, where you can witness—and chat up—the chefs, is the only way to go. Prime your palate with a miso soup and segue into the raw stuff: petals of buttery fluke; rich eel; dessert-sweet egg custard; nearly translucent discs of sliced scallop over neat cubes of milky sushi rice. Still craving a California roll? Move along.

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Midtown East

Kuruma Zushi

The emergence of Masa as the madly expensive sushi bar of the moment has taken the thrill out of riding a drab office elevator to this dowdy, hidden dining room. Japanese businessmen and Wall Street bonus babies still flock here, though, for omakase (chef’s choice) dinners, featuring rare cuts like katsuo (skipjack bonito) and shima-aji (striped horse mackerel). You better pray that your platinum card is up to the job, because there’s no set menu or even a price list. Masa’s $300 prix fixe seems tame compared to the guessing system at Kuruma: You’ll only be able to surmise from the unitemized bill that your orgasmic roll of o-toro (the highest grade of fatty tuna), which was topped with Iranian caviar, ran $200 for four bites.

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Midtown East

Ushiwakamaru

Critics' pick

It’s no surprise that Japan-philes flock to this austere sliver of a restaurant: Those new to the cuisine might not know what to make of the tiny cube of green-tea tofu that’s served as an amuse-bouche, or might blanch at the shrimp heads in the miso soup. Entrées feature classic maki (no Elvis roll here), sushi and sashimi, and little else. Put yourself in the hands of chef-owner Hideo Kuribara and you’ll be richly rewarded. A special might include sushi pieces topped with burstingly fresh salmon roe, the choicest slice of fatty tuna or a generous mound of shredded, fresh crab. Kuribara’s attention to quality and detail is ferocious: The wasabi is real (a rare luxury), and the intensely flavored, almost bitter, green-tea ice cream is house-made.

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Greenwich Village

Sushi Zen

Critics' pick

Opt for a seat at the 10-stool sushi counter to witness the respect with which the masters at this peaceful den approach their work: every step, from the preparation of the dishes to the storing of their ingredients is done with a precision and deliberateness akin to artistry. While traditional and original rolls are available (such as the shrimp and flying fish roe “Jamaica”), this is the place for ordering omakase—chef’s choice. Depending on the season (and your budget), this could include such exquisite bites as custardy uni, three cuts of tuna, including the prized o-toro, or chunks of delicius unagi—all of which are meticulously described by the courteous and attentive waitstaff. The same attention to detail is seen in sides like pickled Daikon radish, pearlescent rice, and a graceful tower of green-tea mousse rolled in chocolate.

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Midtown West

Brushstroke

Critics' pick

David Bouley’s name may be behind this venture, but the star chef is not in the kitchen. Instead, he has handed the reins to talented import Isao Yamada, who turns out some of the most accomplished Japanese food in the city. The ever-changing seasonal menu, which rotates through 5,000 dishes that Yamada spent years testing, is best experienced as an intricate multicourse feast known as kaiseki. A meal might start with muted petals of raw kombu-wrapped sea bass, before building slowly toward a subtle climax: asparagus tips with pristine lobes of uni leading to earthy stewed pork cheeks with cider reduction and green-apple puree. In keeping with the basic tenets of this culinary art form, the savory procession concludes with a rice dish—top-notch chirashi or seafood and rice cooked in a clay casserole—and delicate sweets such as creamy soy-milk panna cotta.

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Tribeca

Neta

Sushi aces Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau left their respective head-chef posts at Masa and Bar Masa to open this minimalist Japanese eatery. Fish-slicing skills aren't the only thing they picked up from their tenures: The pair borrowed Masa architect Richard Bloch to design the 42-seat restaurant, which is outfitted with a maple counter inlaid with ebony, and gray granite floors. In addition to traditional dishes, the chefs will dispatch creative rolls (such as grilled maitake with black truffle) and small plates (razor-clam risotto with soy-braised veal and Chinese celery) from an open kitchen.

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West Village

Sushi Azabu

Critics' pick

This stealthy sushi shrine—tucked away in the basement of Greenwich Grill—attracts solo diners who happily hobnob with the talkative chefs while popping exceptional nigiri morsels into their mouths. You can order à la carte, but the $58 prix fixe is a generous bargain: First-rate sashimi and grilled salmon starters are followed by half a roll and seven plump pieces (among them luscious chutoro and sweet, silky raw shrimp). For dessert: Try the classic Mont Blanc chestnut parfait. Unorthodox in this setting, but delicious.

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Tribeca

Sushi of Gari

Critics' pick

While many neighborhood Japanese joints serve sushi rolls with wacky names, Sushi of Gari chef Masatoshi Sugio prefers to play with unusual ingredients and oddball combinations. Adventurous eaters brave long lines to cram into his small place and order a sushi tasting menu (Gari’s Choice) that runs between $70 and $80. Sugio has been known to pair seared foie gras with daikon radish; salmon with tomato and onion; and spicy tuna with mayo, Tabasco and sesame oil. Less adventurous souls can order regular sushi and sashimi—which are supremely fresh, if not especially memorable—or hot dishes like negimaki, teriyaki, tempura, udon, soba and dumplings. If you want sashimi, pay the extra $13 for the “special” version, which swaps in exotic fishes for the usual tuna and yellowtail.

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Upper East Side

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