New York – Sushi Nakazawa

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of my favourite documentaries. After watching the film I had dreams of visiting Chef Jiro Ono’s 3 Michelin star restaurant but after learning how difficult it was to secure a reservation, I had little hope of them ever coming true. While planning our trip in 2016 to New York I read about Chef Nakazawa, one of Jiro’s apprentices, who moved to the US and became a head chef at his own restaurant in Manhattan. I made reservations immediately. This was likely as close as I’d get to Sukiyabashi Jiro.

Atmosphere: The entrance of Sushi Nakazawa opened to a waiting area with a handful of seats and a fully stocked bar. We arrived early for our reservation, so after checking in with the hostess, we ordered cocktails to sip on until our table was ready. Complimentary coat check was available. There were no seats available at the sushi bar while we were in New York, so I settled for the dining room, which was in a completely separate room with no visibility to the chefs. The dining room was dimly lit, quite the contrast from the bright sushi counter, and tables angled away from each other for added privacy.

Service: From the very first step into the restaurant to our last bite, service was exceptional. Before the meal began, our server walked us through a display of classic Japanese ingredients that would be used throughout the meal like yuzu, shiso leaf and pickled plum. Compared to other omakase experiences, sitting in the dining room paled in comparison to the sushi bar. Dinner still flowed at a comfortable pace but I missed watching each piece come together, especially when the price difference was minimal. Stephen found a piece of shrimp shell in his bite of tamago and we were offered a complimentary piece of wagyu beef nigiri as apology.

Food: The omakase at Sushi Nakazawa featured 20 pieces plus a hand roll. The quality of the fish was top notch, sweet, buttery with textures that ranged from melt in your mouth to firm and chewy. A trio of salmon nigiri was first, three different species that varied in fattiness and flavour. Next was a selection of white fish and scallop, each uniquely garnished. Snow crab, prawn and mackerel were next. The nigiri on this plate all had stronger natural taste and I liked the progression from sweet salmon to fishier fish. Following this was a variety of tuna cuts from lean to medium fatty. No o-toro but still delicious. Two pieces of uni were next, one from each coast of the US. Our meal ended with a negi-toro hand roll followed by a piece of conger eel and tamago.

At the end of the omakase meal, our server left us with the a la carte menu to order additional pieces if we so wished. I usually double up on pieces like uni and spot prawn or try a fish that wasn’t included, however I was surprised with just how many other fish were available. Double the selection of our meal. To me, ordering omakase infers that a variety of the day’s best selection of fish will be served. While the variety was there, seeing many more premium types of fish available a la carte was frustrating. I would’ve liked more transparency upfront with their menu or a tiered pricing model to include pieces like o-toro and Hokkaido Uni from the get-go. But, I guess that’s part of trusting the chef.

Overall, I feel like my expectations for Sushi Nakazawa may have been to high based on the hype and price tag (over $200 CAD/person after tax and gratuity). It was still a memorable meal, but not my favourite omakase experience.

New York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi NakazawaNew York – Sushi Nakazawa
Sushi Nakazawa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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