Chef Marco Moreira wants to make sure you never eat "fake sushi" again. If you have been getting by with faux crab legs and extra spicy mayo, the upscale 15 East will put your sushi expectations in their place. 15 East has won numerous awards and has been awarded a Michelin Star. It is noted for its clean and pure ingredients. It isn't easy on the wallet, but you will certainly learn about the nuances of fish and fine Japanese dining. Chef Moreira goes so far as to show his customers 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.
Exclusion does one of two things to people: 1) It makes you not even care because you're too cool for it anyway. 2) It makes you want in. Really, really, bad. If you are in camp 2, there is no judgment, but there is a restaurant for you. The restaurant's name is Bohemian and it has no phone number and a crytic website. They want you to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to get in. The only promise you will get is that they "may" contact you. Why would you go through this high school torture? Because this Japanese food serves everything from Foie Gras soba to Washa beef steak and it is hella good.
Mark this hidden gem in the basement of a corporate office building in the Grand Central Terminal and United Nations neighborhood. A nondescript sign is tacked on the wall outside but otherwise you need a guide to get you here and you won't be disappointed. Lively lunch crowd, bustling, small quarters and inventive dishes besides traditional sushi and sashimi. Try Sliced Egg Omelette with Bonito Broth, Half Served Wrapped Around Grilled Eel or Taro Potato, Eggplant and Shiitake Mushrooms Fried in Lightly Battered Broth. Soba is made from scratch and there is a sake connoisseur on hand to help you to decode the menu for just the right match.
Even if you don't hail from New York City, you have likely heard of many of the monuments, street names and even restaurants. Nobu makes that list as one of New York's most recognized Japanese restaurants. Its fame is punctuated by frequent visits from celebrities and the New York elite, but it is truly the food that is getting people talking. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa draws from his experiences around the world to create dishes unlike any other. Take Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Tiradito Nobu Style, Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce, and Black Cod Miso. Don't forget to check out the great sake selections and strong wine list as a complement to any meal.
In the West village, EN Japanese Brasserie takes carefully selected local and Japanese ingredients and elevates them to something far greater than what they would be alone. Tofu is made in-house and is prepared six times a night. It is especially delightful served freshly scooped, like ice cream. Fresh fish waits to be expertly sliced and presented, with inventive offerings like grilled wild Conger sea eel with sweet shoyu cucumber. Chef Abe Hiroki has created seasonal dishes that place the utmost importance on the ingredients. There is even a wide variety of vegan dishes, such as the grilled eggplant with kobucha broth.
In the age of social media and oversharing, Kyo Ya doesn't even have a website. This quiet confidence extends to its food with small plates that are perfectly executed. Try the Alaskan kinki or the sea urchan on tofu skin. Vegetarian sides include a baked-then-fried sweet potato which pairs beautifully with soy sauce. Six dishes for two people is usually a good amount to start with. If you are a planner, the Kaiseki menu can be reserved days in advance. Chef Chikara Sono has a laser-like focus that is inspiring to watch. Sit at the chef's table for a truly outstanding dining experience.
If you have never tried sushi, start your journey here at Hatsuhana. Ever since it opened its doors in 1976, it has become the go-to place for those who have never tried sushi, sashimi or any of the delightfully fresh-in-your-mouth dishes that regale a Japanese restaurant menu. The decor is decidedly simple and serene: blonde wood, Japanese lanterns, that muffles the din of the city just beyond the transom to frantic 48th St. This place has "no gimmicks" just the freshest fish from Maine, Spain, Japan or New England to name a few sources, the most delightful decor that recedes as your dining experience takes center stage and really scrumptious sushi. Cooked dishes include tempura: shrimp, taro root, pumpkin and maybe broccoli made in a way you might not be able to at home. You'll be hobnobbing with lots of regulars in business suits. And don't forget the sake.
While the Upper West side location might have you assuming an expensive pricetag, Sushi Yasaka is committed to delicious Japanese food that doesn't break the bank. Open since 2011, the diverse menu is clustered into groups, from noodles to maki hand rolls to a la carte tempura. Beautifully cut pieces of fish seem to melt in your mouth in this understated, dimly lit restaurant. It is also a great place to go to try Omakase: a lovely assortment of aquatic creatures for your dining pleasure. They even have a mini-Omakase for under $25 which provides a nice array of the chef's selection.