A 10-seat omakase counter just opened in Tribeca

Chef Jay Zheng does almost all the food prep and serving himself.

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Inside Tsubame at its counter
Photograph: courtesy of Tsubame

Omakase is becoming ubiquitous across Manhattan, meaning new spots really have to stand out.

Tsubame, a new 10-seat kaiseki-style omakase counter just opened in Tribeca, serving small dishes cooked right before you, so if you’re looking for a chef’s counter experience (and not as much raw fish), this may be the omakase spot for you.

Tsubame is named after a bird that nested in chef and owner Jay Zheng’s Japanese hometown when he was growing up. Entering the small restaurant, guests are greeted by hand-blown white glass birds evoking the restaurant’s namesake. A minimalist style of a blonde wood sushi counter, set against a white textured wall and black velvet, gold-trimmed barstools sets the mood for an elegant meal without too much pretense. The restaurant replicates the ethos of Japan’s kappo spots: serious food, but in a less formal, interactive setting, with Chef Zheng behind the counter doing almost all the food prep and serving himself.

To eat, Tsubame's menu consists of seasonal seafood and vegetables, much of which is sourced from Japan. The eight-course menu follows the classic kaiseki progression, starting with an amuse bouche and finishing with dessert, with a complete feast in between. 


Guests’ first bites will be Chef Zheng’s Shiroebi Uni Shokupan: housemade milk bread layered raw baby shrimp from Toyama and vivid uni from Hokkaido, garnished with shiso flowers. Next, hassun, meaning “eight inches” is a collection of small bites served on dining pedestals, including Hokkaido octopus tentacle slow braised for four hours with daikon and served with wasabi and a Toro Gobo Tart placing raw bluefin tuna in a rice paper wafer. Next, a grilled fish course brings out Japanese Amadai (tilefish) crisped yubiki style with hot oil and finished on a binchotan grill, followed by Dungeness crab in an egg custard finished with shaved black truffles.

Traditionally, the lidded dish comes next, and Tsubame’s is an A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Shabu Shabu with udon made of pressed sawara (Spanish mackerel) in dashi. A rice course follows, and then the nigiri, which Chef Zheng created using a fluffy, lightly seasoned blend of two grains of koshihikari rice. Diners are served eight pieces of nigiri, followed by a rice bowl with more caviar. Two light seasonal desserts finish out the meal, which ends with green tea. Sake is also available for sipping during the meal. 

Dinner at Tsubame costs $225 per person, with seatings at 5:30pm and 8pm. Reservations are available via Tock

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