At first glance, six-year-old East Village standby Kanoyama appears indistinguishable from the slew of other run-of-the-mill sushi restaurants in the neighborhood. But a closer inspection reveals a much more sophisticated venue that has long touted daily imported fresh fish and one of the largest specials menus in the city, making for a sushi experience both elevated and charming.
Conservative appetites can find comfort in familiar fare like rock shrimp tempura ($12), delectable usuzukuri ($18), a rose petal-thin fluke paired with ponzu sauce, and a manicured selection of hand rolls, the standout being the fried oyster roll ($13) slicked in spicy mayo. But sushi connoisseurs and adventurous palates alike can foray into the the expansive list of daily specials, or entrust the raw-fish masters with a omakase, or chef's choice menu.
Three options—omakase sushi ($39), omakase sashimi ($49), and super omakase ($180)—are each artfully presented to stunning effect, making the meal a complete feast for all the senses. On a recent night, the super omakase commenced with a chilled corn soup topped with tempura corn that boasts a luscious consistency similar to custard. Next was the ayu nanban, a fried sweet fish in vinegar sauce, and golden seared anago, a salt-water eel that’s so deeply caramelized in unagi sauce it could pass for candy.
Though already substantial, the meal soldiered on with a selection of sashimi ranging from the standout buttery baby red snapper that melts on the tip of your tongue upon impact to a white eel emboldened by wasabi, fluke with scallion, striped jack fish with lemon salt and a disappointing scallop that was unpleasantly gummy in texture. Toro hand rolls enveloped in extra crispy nori, tobiko with egg, and a velvet unami round out the overall satisfying experience.
Service concludes with a pair of desserts: tamago, a sweet Japanese egg omelette, and monaka, a wafer-like sandwich filled with mochi ice cream and red bean sauce. It's the traditional, understated conclusion to an omakase, befitting the tried-and-true simplicity of the restaurant and its offerings.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER CHRISTINE FISCHER HEWIT