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  1. Any sushi aficionado knows the way to get the best nigiri is to make your reservation at the sushi bar with the head chef. Get to know the top toques behind these Japanese standouts. Ichimura, Takahashi, Uezu, Kim, Lau and Seki—say hello to the sushi masters of Gotham

  2. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chef: Toshihiro Uezu
    Restaurant: Kuruma Zushi
    Hometown: Gifu, Japan
    In the sushi game since: 1963
    Style: Traditional edomae (Tokyo-style nigiri sushi)
    Dropping knowledge: “Don’t soak your sushi in soy sauce. That’s a big mistake a lot of people make. You should only use a drop or two—you want the flavor and the quality of the fish to come out, not the soy. That’s why I always tell my guests when to use soy and when not to—it makes it more delicious for them.”

  3. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chef: Seki
    Restaurant: Sushi Seki
    Hometown: Fukin, China
    In the sushi game since: 1998
    Style: Modern
    Dropping knowledge: “Tuna is the most important to a sushi chef. There are so many different types, many different tastes and textures—bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin. You can always tell—if the tuna is not good, the whole sushi meal will not be good.”

  4. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chef: Kenji Takahashi
    Restaurant: Sasabune
    Hometown: Yokohama, Japan
    In the sushi game since: 1998
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: “I like customers that talk to me. Even though we do omakase, which is my choice, I try to customize the menu to every person. Over the years, I’ve noticed that different people lean towards different types of fish—Americans like one type, the Japanese like another—and the only way I can customize it best for you is if you talk to me. We don’t just try to serve the best fish, we try to serve the best fish for each person.”

  5. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chef: Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio
    Restaurant: Sushi of Gari
    Hometown: Fukuoka, Japan
    In the sushi game since: 1967
    Style: Modern
    Dropping knowledge: Don’t let the fish sit too long, says Sugio. “The best way to enjoy sushi is to eat it as soon as it has been served to you.”

  6. Photograph: Virginia Rollison
    Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Chefs: Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim
    Restaurant: Neta
    Hometowns: Southern China and Los Angeles, respectively
    In the sushi game since: 1995 and 2001, respectively
    Style: Modern/seasonal
    Dropping knowledge: Toro may be the king of the sushi world, but Chef Kim is giving some love to sawara (Japanese Spanish mackerel) at Neta. “Sawara’s my favorite fish,” says Kim. “It’s popular in Japan, but it’s very underrated here in the States. It’s such a fresh, beautiful fish.” Lau’s pick? “Scallops, always.”

  7. Photograph: Virginia Rollison
    Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Chef: Eiji Ichimura
    Restaurant: Ichimura at Brushstroke
    Hometown: Tokyo
    In the sushi game since: 1975
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: A huge proponent of shime (curing, pickling and aging fish), Ichimura says, “Curing fish for a few days can change and enhance the flavor. I love using kohada [shad], seeing the changes in it throughout the year, and adjusting my marinades and curing times based on that.”

  8. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chefs: Tatsuya Sekiguchi and Mitsuru Tamura
    Restaurant: Sushi Yasuda
    Hometowns: Hasuda, Japan, and Matsuyama, Japan, respectively
    In the sushi game since: 2005 and 2003, respectively
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: The chefs recommed going easy on the condiments. Too much soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger will throw the flavors of the fish off balance.

  9. Photograph: Filip Wolak
    Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Chef: Masato Shimizu
    Restaurant: 15 East
    Hometown: Takasaki, Japan
    In the sushi game since: 2006
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: “My favorite customer is one that is curious, engaging and willing to learn.”

  10. Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
    Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Chefs: Daigo Yamaguchi and Nobuyuki Shikanai
    Restaurant: Kanoyama
    Hometowns: Yokohama, Japan and Utsunomiya, Japan, respectively
    In the sushi game since: 1998
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: Shinkanai and Yamaguchi always serve tamago, a sweet egg omelette, as their first piece of nigiri. The reason: “If it’s good, then you know the rest of the sushi will be high-quality,” Shinkanai says.

  11. Photograph: Julia Gartland
    Photograph: Julia Gartland

    Chef: Yoshi Kousaka
    Restaurant: Jewel Bako
    Hometown: Toyohashi, Japan
    In the sushi game since: 1980
    Style: Traditional edomae
    Dropping knowledge: “It is customary to eat both sushi and ginger [gari] with only the hands at the sushi bar. Chopsticks are used to eat at the table.”

     

Sushi bosses: New York City’s top sushi chefs

We picked New York City’s best sushi restaurants—now meet the fish-slicing masters behind the counters.

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