Best sushi in NYC
At this 20-seat sushi counter, the omakase chef's selection of exceptionally made edomaezushi is served in its purest form, each lightly lacquered with soy and nestled atop a slip of warm, loosely packed rice. Luscious, marbled toro boldly arrives first, even before sweet Spanish mackerel with barely there shreds of young ginger or sea bream dabbed with plummy ume shiso.
At this glossy downtown spot fitted with a nine-seat dark wood bar overlooking an airy high-ceilinged dining room, first-rate seafood is flown in from Japan. Creamy Hokkaido uni 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 books to show where the exceptional cuts of fish are from, the chef schools novices and aficionados alike.
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.
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.
Reserve a seat at the bar of this bamboo-clad space to watch the chefs dispatch purist renditions of nigiri onto wooden trays in elegant, efficient movements. You won't find over-the-top combos, letting the primo seafood and the chef's superior knife skills shine. That top-shelf sourcing doesn’t come cheap, and reservations are booked out far in advance, but this storied sushi den is still worth the price of admission.
When you arrive at Sushi Azabu’s address, you’ll initially curse Apple Maps for steering you astray. Alas, you’re at the right place—hidden in a Tribeca basement lies this Michelin-starred sushi speakeasy. The subterranean lair rightfully prides itself on its adherence to Japanese sushi standards, like how more than 70 percent of the fish is imported directly from Japan, four times a week.
“Trust me” isn’t exactly what you want to hear when you’re about to nosedive into the oft-sketchy world of raw fish, 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.
Perched on the second floor of a dingy midtown building, Toshihiro Uezu’s 12-person sushi bar turns out jaw-dropping nigiri in its purest, most traditional form, delivered from his hands to yours. 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 quality of the seafood, the masterfully tempered rice and the fresh wasabi.
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. The late hours lend a boozy, jovial atmosphere you won't forget.
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, three-Michelin-starred destination for sushi devotees.