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Is there a more extravagant evening to be had in New York than a US$500 per-head sushi omakase experience? Japanese omakase is a multi-course tasting menu with the dishes specially selected by the chef to incorporate culinary artistry and the finest ingredients. Its impressive quality and rising prices have meant a steady increase in the number of New Yorkers flocking to omakase counters over the past decade.
Most feature carefully sourced sustainable seafood imported from Japan and are often helmed by sushi masters that are from or trained in Japan. Although the city is losing one of its best Michelin-starred sushi spots with the recent closure of Sushi Ginza Onodera, many excellent omakase options still abound – provided you can score one of the few seats at a counter.
Here are seven mouth-watering omakase spots in the Big Apple.
In June, Master Sushi Chef Eiji Ichimura returned to the New York dining scene. His storied career has seen him mastermind both Uchu and Brushstroke, where he earned two Michelin stars. Now Ichinmua has partnered with restaurateur Rahul Saito and Mitsunobu Nagae to open his namesake restaurant in Tribeca. Revered for his meticulous dry methods of fish known as ‘Edomae’ style, Ichimura presents his omakase to two 10-person sittings per night, with guests seated around a hinoki wood counter.
Featuring fish and ingredients sourced directly from Japan, the multi-course experience delivers a stunning array of dishes. Start with appetizers such as a mochi rice cracker sandwich filled with uni and caviar, or dashi with unagi and Japanese tomato. This is followed by 12 courses of delicately aged nigiri sushi and temaki, including three tuna courses. A seasonal dessert – recently it was a delicate shiso granita atop a peach compote and mascarpone cheese – finishes the meal.
Dishes are served on rare Japanese lacquerware – antique plates more than 200 years old – and custom tableware made exclusively for Sushi Ichimura by some of Japan’s most prominent artists. And if you order sake, it might come in a vintage crystal Baccarat set from the 1920s.
When Sushi Noz opened on the Upper East Side in 2018, it immediately upped the city’s omakase game and earned a Michelin star. With Chef Nozomu Abe, originally from Hokkaido, at the helm, Sushi Noz offers a classic omakase experience in an intimate room inspired by Edo-period teahouses. Abe even has an ‘Edomae’-style hinoki wood ice chest, a Japanese storage vessel popular in the 19th century that uses massive ice blocks to keep fish fresh.
Nearly all the ingredients used here come from Japan, but you might see the occasional Scottish langoustine or Montauk fluke. Diners are served about six appetizers like taro and snow crab, followed by 13-to-18 nigiri bites, all prepared in a traditional ‘Edomae’ style with the occasional global accent.
The meal always ends with soup, tamago (omelet) and maybe a Hokkaido milk ice cream or seasonal fruit compote. During the day, stop by Noz Market next door for fresh seafood like wild salmon, uni and scallops from Hokkaido. If you don’t want to wait, there are also ready-to-eat handrolls, maki rolls, donburi and sushi plates.
Perhaps the most famous sushi joint in New York, Sushi Nakazawa is the brainchild of Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, who apprenticed at Ginza sushi joint Jiro – the setting for the Netflix cult-favorite documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Nakazawa opened his first sushi spot in the West Village in 2013. Diners can pick from two omakase experiences: a more expensive meal at the 10-seat main bar or five-seat lounge counter; or the same omakase served at a slightly lower price in the main dining room. Sushi Nakazawa is also open for lunch at the counter, giving diners more options to secure a reservation.
A relative newcomer that opened last September, Joji comes from Chef Daniel Boulud and Chef George Ruan, previously of Masa. The two partnered to open an intimate omakase restaurant similar to those tucked into Tokyo train stations, and Joji is hidden on the lower level of One Vanderbilt at Grand Central. The 10-seat counter, plus an eight-person private room, serves a 21-course omakase at dinner and 17 courses at lunch.
Otsumami (starters) might include amadai kara-age with caviar or grilled kinki fish. Then there are about 15 nigiri pieces, mostly sourced from Japan. Dessert is often slices of seasonal Japanese fruit like musk melon. Don’t have time to sit for a full omakase? Grab a luxury to-go box of sushi at Joji Box next door.
This eight-seat counter is concealed in a narrow arcade off Canal Street in Chinatown; it truly feels like a secret. When Chef Kunihide Nakajima of Tokyo opened it in 2020, it was much anticipated by his fans, who had followed his every move from acclaimed omakase spots like Sushiden, Sushi Inoue and Uogashi.
The ‘Edomae’-style omakase includes about 12 pieces of nigiri, preceded by several starters and a hot dish, and customers can even add a uni tasting. Once again, soup and dessert finish things off. The adjacent Bar Nakaji serves otsumami, Japanese cocktails and elusive Japanese whiskies.
The opening of the downtown outpost of Sushi Noz at the end of 2021 brought the meticulousness of Sushi Noz partners Chef Nozomu Abe, David Foulquier and Joshua Foulquier to 17th Street, but with a twist. Noz 17 offers a 30-course omakase using highly seasonal Japanese ingredients that are rarely available in New York. Its format of alternating and intertwining nigiri and otsumami bites throughout the meal is also seldom seen in the city.
Chef Junichi Matsuzaki, previously of Sushi Noz’s Ash Room, is leading Noz 17’s kitchen and has recently received a Michelin star. The seven seats here are some of the hardest to get in the city as they run on a referral system, aside from a four-seat private room bookable on Tock.
Yoshino is a 10-seat, 300-year-old hinoki counter that earned a rare four-star review from The New York Times (one of only four restaurants to do so) and was named the Best New Restaurant in New York of 2022.
It’s helmed by chef Tadashi Yoshida, who took over his father’s restaurant in Japan, calling it Sushi-ya no Yoshino for the first 18 years before relocating the entire restaurant to Nagoya and renaming it Yoshino. After being recognized as one of Japan’s top sushi masters, he closed the restaurant in 2019 and chose to move his business to New York – the first time a sushi chef of his stature has relocated to New York.
Offerings are hyper seasonal, and the menu slowly changes as fish come in and out of season. However, a mainstay is the signature pressed saba sushi. This is cured mackerel pressed to a tightly packed bed of rice and torched with a handheld binchotan charcoal grill, which is then cut into individual pieces and served with a sheet of nori.