New York's Best Japanese Restaurants Put Sushi on the Map
By Lucy Walters
Perhaps this doesn’t happen to you, and if so, then I envy your carefree lifestyle that lacks in angst and neurosis, but ever get a craving for sushi or sashimi so strongly you convince yourself you have a mineral deficiency? Sometimes Japanese cuisine is the only thing that will keep you mentally in check to survive in the big smoke.
New York City is packed with options, and the scale is almighty. The trick is to find reasonably priced options that are fresh (that one is a biggie), creative, delicious and unpretentious. Many of the places that manage to swing this winning combination can be found hiding out, keeping a low profile in Brooklyn such as Ki Sushi in Cobble Hill or the mighty Taro in Park Slope.
There are also incredible places in Manhattan, this list would be amiss to not give a respectable nod to Nobu or 15 East. Not the most wallet friendly options but have stood the test of time for tasty and terrific.
The following places are also marked for their ambiance, often boasting clean interiors, good lighting and sophisticated comfor. If you're a sucker for water features with your meal (yes, I might be) then all the better.
10 Haru Sushi - Broadway
If you're in the grip of a sushi craving and find yourself in the Times Square area (where nothing makes sense and the environment is designed to kill you), then Haru Sushi is a good option. Unlike its surrounding competition, the ambiance if chilled out and relaxed. It isn't super sophisticated, but its quiet and not other Times Square area restaurants, so that's a bonus. The bar has a daily happy hour that has cheap libations and munchies, happy hour starts at 3om and goes till 7pm. The food is good, and not unreasonably priced. A good meeting spot for out of towners who mistakenly think Times Square is a good place to meet. (2123989810)
Fushimi of Bay Ridge, what can be said? This is a great venue to go to if you want to party with large groups of dressed up people drinking cocktails, dancing around in room that has opulent, over the top decor. It would be ridiculous if it just wasn't so much fun, and also, rather surprisingly, the food is delightful. Fushimi is dipping it's toe into the fusion band wagon and dealing with it gracefully and tastefully. Fushimi claims to fuse traditional Japanese food with French inspired nouvelle cuisine and it works. Fushimi comes highly recommended by Zagat and the Michelin guide. Did I mention its like a night club with sushi? Good times. (718.833.7788)
8 ki sushi
Ki Sushi in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn can take on its Manhattan counterparts with great gusto. The food is of a very high quality with the Tempura holding court as the most powerful player in the sand box. Other notable items from the menu are the Uni and the Fantastic Roll which is fantastic by name and fantastic by nature. The jalape?o yellowtail is also worth a try. The ambiance is relaxed, dim lighting allows for a quiet, intimate setting that can feel surprisingly romantic. The service is good and you are plied with jasmine scented, hot towels. Bonus. Train: F to Bergen Street ((718) 935-0575)
7 15 East
15 East has won numerous awards and has recently been awarded a Michelin Star. It is noted for its clean and pure ingredients. It isn't easy on the wallet, but it is worth a visit. There is also a personal touch to 15 East, Executive Sushi Chef Masato Shimizu greets guests with an eager smile and a friendly demeanor. Shimizu enjoys teaching diners about the fish he serves, going so far as to show them the exact cut or section of fish in a book. His gregariousness is surpassed only by his precise command of technique, demonstrated by the simple purity of his sushi, Shimizu doesn't use exotic ingredients or flashy garnishes to prop up his work. (212-647-0015)
6 Momo Sushi Shack
Momo Sushi Shack located in Bushwick, Brooklyn is well worth a visit. The facade is unassuming and inside the decor is simple, with long wooden communal tables so be prepared to share during busy times but the lay out is clean and sophisticated. Notable menu items include the pork belly with a fresh boiled farm egg and anything from the "Bomb" menu which lists a variety of sushi combinations that are tasty and filling. One of the greatest things about Momo is their extensive menu which has numerous options for vegetarians and vegans. A super addition to the Bushwick area and well worth the trip. Train: L to Morgan. ((718) 418-6666)
5 Yamato Restaurant
Thank you Yamato for bringing creative sushi to Brooklyn, the special rolls are really fun and always super fresh. The Blossom Roll is great as is the Millennium Roll other notable rolls include the Dancing Roll, Crazy Roll and the Napoleon Roll. The ambiance at Yamato is cool and clean, they have a fabulous outdoor space with a charming waterfall and an abundance of greenery that makes you feel like your in a secret garden that happens to be full of delicious sushi and sashimi. They have very reasonable lunch options if you work in the area, with Bento Boxes a little under $12. The staff are attentive but not in your face. A good choice for a chilled out raw fish fiesta. (718-840-0099)
Tipped as the most recognized Japanese restaurant in the world and punctuated by frequent visits from celebrities and the New York elite, Nobu serves food that definitely lives up to its reputation. Try the "new-style sashimi," lightly cooked with garlic and ginger-flavored olive oil. Squid pasta is also a good choice. Not sure which items to try? Try several! The Omakase a multi-course selection of the chef's choosing covers a wide range of flavors, textures and styles. Don't forget to check out the great sake selections and strong wine list a complement to any meal. Train: 1, 9 to Franklin St. (212-219-0500)
3 Jpan Japanese Restaurant
Jpan is a funky, fresh sushi restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The selection is good and the food is always quality while reasonably priced. Stand out menu items include the Udon Noodle Soup and the Fire Island Roll which is delightful combination of shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna, it certainly isn't the healthiest choice on the menu, but it is tasty. Other stand out's include the Tuna Dumpling, Chicken Yakitori, Spider Roll, Beef Negimaki and the Salt & Pepper Shrimp. Jpan also run a decent lunch special if you happen to work in the area and fancy raw fish as a mid-day pick me up. ((718) 788-2880)
2 Blue Ribbon Sushi
Nearly a decade after it opened, Blue Ribbon Sushi is still going strong, thanks to ultra-fresh fish served over perfectly sticky rice. If price is no object, order some of the day's specials, like melting sea urchin from Japan or chunks of king salmon. For non-sushi fans, the menu includes vegetable rolls and three kinds of California Rolls. Other choices include creative takes on dragon rolls, fresh sea urchin with cooked shallots and roe. A good selection of soups, salads and vegetarian dishes are also available. Order sake samplers or by the bottle from the well-stocked bar. Train: C, E to Spring St (212-343-0404)
1 Taro Sushi
Taro Sushi is great, the food is always fresh and delicious. Owned by expert chef Yuji Sano, Taro Sushi truly is the best sushi in Brooklyn and a testament to Sano's over 16 years of training in the art of sushi. After opening as a virtual "hole in the wall" on Dean Street, Taro expanded into a much larger space on Flatbush with a warm, welcoming atmosphere and a large bar in the front which is a prime place to sit. If you want to treat yourself, go for the Omakase, you will not be disappointed. But be assured, Omakase or not, anything you order will be awesome. Train: 2/3 to Bergen Street. ((718) 398-5240)
About Lucy Walters
Lucy landed in New York City in 2002 and has been trying to try, taste and touch as much of it as she can ever since. Never one to shy away from adventure, she can be frequently found in the most opportune places taking part in a variety of activities ranging from cheese making to rock climbing, dancing to target practice. Lucy has an insatiable appetite for great food and a passion for live music making New York the perfect place for this cheeky British import.
Read more about Lucy Walters here.