Chefs’ Picks: Outstanding Sushi Omakase in NYC
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
New Yorkers may be a bit of a skeptical bunch, but many leave their doubts at the door when indulging in omakase at their favorite sushi spot. Meaning “to entrust” or “I’ll leave it up to you” in Japanese, omakase gives the chef complete control of the meal. Prime seafood, often shipped straight from Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji Fish Market, is typically presented in stunningly simple hand rolls, sashimi and nigiri. This style of sushi focuses on highlighting subtle oceanic flavors, rather than masking delicate fish with soy sauce, wasabi and the like. Here, New York chefs share their favorite spots for omakase dining in the city.
When Executive Chef Michael Armstrong of Dream Downtown gets a night off from overseeing the kitchen at Bodega Negra, he can often be found satisfying his sushi cravings right around the corner at Morimoto. Armstrong is a fan of the restaurant’s chef, Robby Cook, who he calls “easily one of the best and most-creative sushi chefs in New York City or anywhere else, for that matter.” In addition, Cook and his team have access to the best ingredients from Japan “because of the Morimoto name,” Armstrong says.
Since its inception in 2002, Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side has become a restaurant industry favorite for its spectacular seafood and late-night hours. One of its many fans is Bahr Rapaport, chef and owner of Seabird and Mezetto. “I love this place for so many reasons. The fish is always ridiculously fresh [and] watching the sushi guys behind the bar is so enjoyable,” says Rapaport, who describes the meal preparation as a show of sorts.
Executive Chef/Owner Michael Lomonaco of Porter House Bar and Grill and Center Bar sticks close to home when he wants an indulgent sushi experience. “My neighborhood restaurant is my omakase go-to: Tanoshi Sushi,” the chef divulges. A tiny Upper East Side establishment, the restaurant only holds about a dozen seats, but Lomonaco says it’s worth squeezing in for “[a] very seasonally driven selection of fish, great music and chill vibe.”
An Impressive Presentation
Formerly located in the West Village, beloved sushi-ya Ushiwakamaru can now be found in more spacious Chelsea digs, which pleases its many fans, including Jake Dell, owner of Katz’s Delicatessen. One of the most-mesmerizing moments of a meal there for him is seeing Chef-Owner Hideo Kuribara prepare the fresh fish. “I love watching him work his magic.”
Depending on your needs, some cuts are better than others.