New York's Best Omakases

—Jessica Ferri
photography by Michel Ann O'Malley
October 5, 2012 | Past Events

1 - New York's Best Omakases
The sushi bar at 15 East

Omakase is roughly translated from Japanese as “I leave it to you,” a reference to diners who allow the chef to decide their dinner. Though traditional omakases focus on sushi, the chef has full discretion. Most often, an omakase comprises several pieces of sashimi in addition to uni (sea urchin), grilled fish, and dessert. This Japanese tradition has become a popular way to enjoy some of the best sushi restaurants here in New York. The best part? It’s all about the quiet, gustatory exchange between you and the chef—sit at the bar and don’t bring a date.

At a lofty $450 per person, Masa is all omakase all the time. We can offer from experience that a meal at Masa is worth every penny, and more. Chef Masa Takayama adheres strictly to the philosophy of umami, “the basic essence of flavor in each ingredient,” with unfussy yet genius presentation. For example, a mound of toro tartare is served in what looks like a sundae dish and topped with inky caviar. There are only 26 seats in the house, but don’t bother with a table. You want to sit at the bar, where you can watch Takayama work his magic. 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9800

In a thirteen-course meal at Soto, located in the West Village, you can expect to find not only some of the most delicious, exotic seafood you’ve ever tasted, but also the most beautifully prepared. Chef Sotohiro Kosugi takes enormous pride in his work, and it shows. Famous for his use of uni, Kosugi sources his sea urchin from all over the world. So you can really become an expert on which seaside locales produce the very best uni. Though you can order off the menu at Soto, why would you want to? The omakase is the way to go. 357 6th Ave., 212-414-3088

15 East
With a Zagat rating of 26, 15 East is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in New York. Chef Masato Shimizu takes a simpler approach to omakase, preparing single servings of sushi or uni on a beautiful slab of marble. This preparation forces you to really savor each piece of sushi, some of which feature several different kinds of fresh uni from California and Japan. 15 East 15th St., 212-647-0155

Ichimura at Brushstroke
Though Ichimura used to be a closely guarded secret, Pete Wells, with his recent New York Times review, has made it impossible to secure a table in this tiny restaurant. Chef Eiji Ichimura came to the attention of David Bouley with his former restaurant in Midtown. When that closed, Bouley scooped him up and installed him at Brushstroke in a small sushi bar. In his recent review, Wells praised Ichimura’s focus on aged fish and the kobe-jimu technique, layering the fish with kelp. If you think you know all there is to know about sushi, Ichimura may still surprise you. 30 Hudson St., 212-513-7141

Sushi Yasuda
A favorite of celebrities who moonlight as foodies (think Gwyneth Paltrow), Sushi Yasuda has earned its reputation as the buzziest sushi restaurant in New York. As chef Naomichi Yasuda was raised in a small fishing village called Chikura in the Chiba prefecture of Japan, his restaurant is focused on being as eco-friendly as possible and exposing its patrons to some of the most exotic flavors from around the world. 204 E. 43rd St., 212-972-1001

Jewel Bako
Jewel Bako, located in the East Village, offers an omakase meal for a steal of $65. Highlights include an uni cup filled with rice, five pieces of uni, and a grilled scallop. With as many as seventeen pieces of sushi, Jewel Bako is fantastic place for omakase newbies eager to try everything. 239 East 5th St., 212-979-1012

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