Whenever I mentioned to people that I don’t like sushi, 99% of the time the reaction I got was “WHAT?? How can you not like Sushi?? it’s so good!”. Now looking back, I think there were two main reasons why I never liked sushi that much: 1) I got food poisoning from sushi in China (yeah i know, why would you eat sushi in China) 2) I never got good sushi. Most of the time when I went to eat sushi, I got rolls. Yes rolls.. like Rainbow Roll, California roll…you can name them. But all this lack of love for sushi changed when I visited Sushi Nakazawa in New York City.
Many of you may have watched the documentary Jiro’s Dream of Sushi. In the film, one of the apprentices under Jiro was Nakazawa, otherwise known as the egg guy, spent most of the film perfecting the egg custard. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to try this place.
Things to know before you go:
- Make advanced reservation (at least 1 month in advance) to avoid disappointment
- You can make reservation online at open table or call them directly
- The meal takes about 2 – 2.5 hours
- It’s Omakase so the chef determines what you eat
- Seating at the bar is $150 per person, cheaper to sit in the dining room
- Each Omakase is 20+ pieces of sushi (fish + rice)
- Dress code is business casual
- Inform them of any food allergies ahead of time
- For special celebrations, they will give you a scoop of ice cream with a candle on top. Call ahead to arrange this
- You may not get Nakazawa himself as your chef, so check with the restaurant for his schedule ahead of time
- It’s best to eat sushi with your hands (instead of chopsticks)
- You can request to take photos with the sushi chef
We got really lucky to get a 7:15pm reservation at the bar, so we could watch the sushi chefs do their magic. The interior of the restaurant is not what you would think for a sushi place, it’s rather modern with black and white color themes.
While we got there a little bit early, the host kindly asked us to wait in the waiting room while the other diners finished their courses so everyone at the counter can get seated at the same time.
We got the $150 omakase sitting at the bar. It’s a set course of nigiri (raw fish on rice) given to you by the chef one at a time.
After our omakase, we decided we wanted to re-order the King Salmon and the Scallop (my favorites). We also wanted to be more adventurous and ordered 2 other nigiri pieces.
It was a truly amazing experience and now I finally understand why everyone I know loves sushi. The restaurant has a lot of specialty Japanese sake and other drinks. Some of my favorite pieces included the King Salmon, Scallop, California Sea Urchin, and the Wagyu Beef. Compare to the high end sushi places in Japan, Nakazawa seems rather “Americanized”. What I mean by Americanized is that it provides the diners with some very basic/familiar fish such as Salmon (although different kinds of Salmon). You generally wouldn’t get so many pieces of Salmon from restaurants in Japan. Also, since the restaurant has a whole dining area besides the bar, that part is very different from the high end sushi places we went in Japan where there is literally just a sushi bar.
I really liked the overall experience and the sushi, although I feel the host was a bit “arrogant”?. I felt the hosts in Japan were more warm and personable (and they wear Kimonos!). But that may just be me. Was it worth it? I think it was! We got over 20 pieces of sushi and some of the high end places in Japan are definitely more expensive with fewer pieces. If you are in town looking for a nice dining experience, this must not be missed.