Best sushi in NYC
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.
After shuttering for three months, the rave-reviewed Lower East Side sushi counter reemerges, with chef John Daley buying out his business partner to assume majority ownership of the 10-seat operation. In this simplified iteration, the three-tier-priced dinner service is stripped down to just one omakase featuring seafood sourced from Japan’s famed Tsukiji and Fukuoka fish markets.
Score a place in one of the three omakase-only seatings and you'll be dining on nigiri turned out by a Morimoto alum. They're not as dainty and refined as the ones at other premium fish houses, but Toshio Oguma isn't serving run-of-the-mill California rolls, either. The quality will please purists, even if the Adele and J-pop soundtrack won't. New Yorkers looking for an intimate alternative to hush-hush sushi dens should sit in on these nightly dinner parties.
Dapper power couple Jack and Grace Lamb brought a bit of Tokyo cool to the East Village when they opened this intimate sushi-ya—hidden behind a heavy black door—in 2001. Now a neighborhood favorite, Jewel Bako maintains its downtown cred with buzzy young crowds and a stylish bamboo-tunnel dining room. In the back, the sushi omakase gets you a dozen of sushi maestro Yoshi Kousaka’s raw-fish marvels.
Following a 17-year stint at Nobu, chef Toshio Tomita went solo with a tasting-menu-only restaurant in the former Kajitsu space. Omakase options include a sushi menu of 15 pieces or a seven-course chef’s tasting, highlighting seasonal ingredients in dishes like house-made soba noodles, kappa-style appetizers and hot dishes, alongside sushi and sashimi made using fish flown in overnight from Japan.
Don’t let the throngs of college coeds and easy-on-the-wallet prices fool you: This ain’t no sketchy all-you-can-eat sushi joint. The corner East Village eatery turns out top-notch nigiri that stands toe-to-toe with some of its pricier counterparts. Do yourself a favor and get a seat at the well-lit walnut bar in the quieter back room so that you can bliss out on your meal in peace.