I went to Sushi Yasuda in New York City last night and oh boy! This was a great experience. Firstly, they are a very traditional sushi-ya, no spicy rolls, or other American funkyisms. And they made this pretty clear when my dining companion (a colleague of mine) asked about a spicy scallop roll. But, our waiter was very nice and polite and steered us towards interesting specials and made us aware what the itamae suggested that night.
I started out with something I’d never had before; flounder roe. It was very interesting. whitish/gray clumps that were very subtle, and tasted like a combination of all the delicate flavors of green onion and the ocean. Very unique. I went on to Ankimo (monkfish liver), one of my seasonal favorites, and then started ordering sashimi and sushi with gusto.
Before our sushi arrived, the waiter brought out a seaweed salad comprised of 5 different types of seaweed with a bowl of dressing for dipping. Some of these were the norm (wakame) and it was missing some I am used to (hijiki), which wasn’t a problem. But it was great. A very rounding experience and the textures were something at which to marvel.
Then our dinner arrived. Each piece was perfect. Not perfect in the sense that it looked like a machine measured and manufactured it, but perfect in they way the food was balanced. They use fresh wasabi there without even being asked (a sure sign of high quality) and the itamae had really put the perfect size neta on the nigiri-zushi. The whole piece fit in my mouth perfectly so there was no embarrassing ‘squirrel mouth.’ And it was very fresh. The o-toro was amazing and the buri was definitely the best I’ve had in years. What was really neat was that the presentation was very simple yet beautiful.
My usual place is great, but Sushi Yasuda was really a whole new experience. The service was great, the food was incredible, and we drank too much sake (but it was worth it and I wasn’t driving anyway). It’s really great to have the experience of dining in a traditional sushi-ya as well, I didn’t miss any of the fancy, flowery rolls and mixes. I was there for the fish and I got more than I expected out of the dinner. It was a fancy dinner with what seemed minimal effort (which is entirely untrue, they put a lot of effort into their presentation). And it blew my mind. It would have blown my wallet too, but I was being treated 🙂
If you have an opportunity and don’t mind paying up for it, check out Sushi Yasuda. You don’t have to be on your best behavior, but you do have to be there on time (they don’t hold tables, they are so busy and popular). And definitely look for the specials.
The Sushi guy.
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Wow, you surely have real good understanding for art of sushi. Impressive. By reading your blog, I could easily imagine what sort of sushi you ate at Sushi Yasuda. Like you said before, sushi may not be for everyone, but I feel happy to see an American have a love for a part of my culture like I love some of American culture.
You may really be true Sushi Otaku!
Thank you 🙂
I appreciate good food and there is something about sushi that just makes me want to dig deeper and deeper. Not only is good sushi tasty, but it’s great to actually experience dining instead of the common American ‘wolf it down’ mentality. Over here, we tend to go for quantity over quality and we are lessened by it, in my opinion. I love that I have found something that I can appreciate while I eat it instead of just feeling that i’m filling my belly.
The sushi guy.
I agree that Sushi Yasuda is one of the best restaurants in the US for sushi (and whatever else they choose to prepare.) Yasuda-san used to work at Hatsuhana in NYC, but now that he has opened his own restaurant he is free to focus on the key elements that make his sushi great. He tells me that the rice is exrtaordinarily important, and the results show it. He works very hard to achieve perfect rice and he marries this rice with the right amount of fish, etc. to create great sushi. Your comment about balance is very important. Yasuda-san knows about balance. He also knows about fish. Go during peak toro season and you will have the opportunity to taste 5, 10 or more types of toro. He’s a god. (and appropriately strict about his art.)