UPDATE: This story was originally published on January 9.
So, you recently realized that slurring a Champagne-induced vow at 1 a.m. to embrace green juice and a 5 a.m. gym time was a lot easier said than done. But you still wanna drop (at least some of) the pounds you packed on during the calorie-awesome holidays. To help you get — and stay — healthy, we thought it was the perfect time to shine a spotlight on one of our favorite diet-friendly meals: sushi. It doesn't get much healthier than bite-sized rolls of rice and raw fish wrapped in vitamin-packed seaweed (suck it, kale smoothie).
But in a city where sushi restaurants are as abundant as Starbucks, it's hard to know which one to choose. Are you ready to up your hand-roll game? It's time to say "sayonara" to sucky sashimi and maki with our list of the 17 best sushi-serving spots in town. From high-end restaurants like Morimoto in Chelsea Market to BYOB, under-the-radar joints like Poke, you'll never have to chew on a stale California roll again.
If you’re into monster-size pieces of sushi topped with thick slices of extremely fresh fish (yes, please!), this no-frills Greenwich Village staple is a must-try. While they don’t offer any super-funky sushi options, the traditional menu is packed with delicious, straight-forward choices. We’re obsessed with their Spicy Tekka roll (spicy tuna with a little mayo) suited up in almost-black strips of seaweed.
Tomoe Sushi, 172 Thompson Street (between Bleecker and West Houston Streets); 212-777-9346
For wallet-friendly rolls ($5-$14) that will give you a good chuckle due to their LOL-worthy names (like the Good Time Roll: avocado and asparagus roll topped with salmon and spicy sauce), head to this no-frills haunt on the Upper East Side. In addition to these quirky special rolls, Poke offers traditional sushi and sashimi options. But before you go, make sure you pick up a bottle of booze (it’s BYOB) and hit up the ATM (it’s cash only).
Poke, 343 East 85th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues); 212-249-0569.
Restaurateur Gabe Stulman’s (Perla, Fedora) latest venture, Chez Sardine, is an inauthentic take on Japanese izakaya (Japanese 101: an izakaya is a casual drinking establishment that also serves food). In addition to entrees like Maki Tempura (shrimp, avocado, and soy mayo) and Miso-Maple Salmon Head, the menu boasts seven, super-funky sushi options. We’re stoked about the Beef Tongue roll with ponzu and jalapeno or the Smoked Arctic Char roll made with spicy rice.
Chez Sardine, 183 West 10th Street (between West 4th Street and Waverly Place); 646-360-3705.
At this high-end contemporary Japanese restaurant tucked away in Chelsea Market, acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto uses fresh fish sourced from markets around the world to create some of the finest sushi in NYC. Dine in the glass-walled, 160-seat dining area, or saddle up to the 24-seat, wooden sushi bar surrounding the exposed kitchen, and watch the master whip up rolls like the soft-shell crab with asparagus, tobiko, avocado, scallion, and spicy sauce. Other options on the seasonal menu include Japanese Lobster Fritters and Duck, Duck, Duck (roasted duck leg, duck sandwich, and duck egg). Have $125/pp to throw down? Then take our ad-rice and order the multi-course omakase (chef’s tasting menu).
Morimoto, 88 10th Avenue (between 15th and 16th streets); 212-989-8883.
Sen has been providing Hamptonites with quality sushi for 18 years at its Sag Harbor digs, and just opened a sexy second location in NYC (finally!). Wash down specialty rolls (Crispy Snapper with spicy miso sauce is our go-to!) with exotic tipples such as the Sen Mojito (sake, coconut rum, fresh lime, and rum) or Seasonal Hot Apple Cider Sake. There’s also a stellar traditional Sake list for the less adventurous (or those looking to double fist).
Sen, 12 West 21st Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212- 388–5736
If you can find this subterranean East Village Japanese eatery (hint: descend an iron staircase into a nameless resto that simply says “Open”), you’re in for a real treat: pressed sushi. This rectangular type of sushi is a real rarity in NYC, and boy is it delicious. At Kyo Ya, the rice is flavored with shiso, scallion, sesame seeds, fried kelp, and two kinds of ginger, then topped with melt-in-your-mouth slices of fresh fish. And if you can remember to make a reservation about a month in advance, you might be lucky enough to nab one of chef Chikara Sono’s ten nightly multi-course kaiseki meals ($95-$150), which offers dishes made with hard-to-find ingredients like bamboo shoots.
Kyo Ya, 94 East 7th Street (between Avenue A and 1st Avenue); 212-982-4140.
Photo: Courtesy of Tomoe Sushi
Visit Hasaki in the East Village for excellent traditional Japanese fare for reasonable prices. Our go-to roll is the mayo-free Spicy Tuna.
Hasaki, 210 East 9th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues); 212-473-3327.
Ichimura at Brushstroke
The sushi bar at Brushstroke restaurant in Tribeca, Ichimura, was pretty much undiscovered until New York Times food critic Pete Wells put it on the map last year with his three-star review, claiming chef Eiji Ichimura’s sushi is some of the best he’s ever had. While you can’t go wrong with sushi topped with fresh fish, Ichimura practices another technique: curing fish in salt, vinegar, or soy sauce. He even seasons the rice for the rolls with three kinds of vinegar. It’s going to cost you $150 bones to sample any of it though; the omakase is the only option available at this teeny restaurant within a restaurant.
Ichimura at Brushstroke, 30 Hudson Street (at Duane Street); 212-513-7141.
Another omakase to try before you die is the one at Sushi Seki, a high-end haunt on the Upper East Side. There is a sushi-only omakase, which consists of 12-13 pieces of sumptuous sushi and a hand roll for $80. A la carte faves include the crunchy Shrimp Tempura or Spicy Scallop rolls.
Sushi Seki, 1143 1st Avenue (between 62nd and 63rd streets); 212-371-0238.
This chic, modern-style Japanese eatery churns out superb traditional sushi with a modern flair courtesy of Chef Masato Shimizu, and was recently awarded a Michelin star (read: go now). Currently, the seasonal menu offers winter fishies like Kanburi (yellowtail from Himi port, Japan) and Kansaba (mackerel from the Japan Sea). Other seasonal ingredients are sourced from places like the Union Square Green Market. And while we heart all the sushi big time, it’s the perfect time of year to indulge in their hand-made Soba noodles in hot broth.
15 East, 15 East 15th Street (between 5th Avenue and Union Square West); 212-647-0015.
This dimly-lit, tri-level townhouse boasts a super-sexy downstairs lounge, a 75-seat dining room equipped with a bar overlooking Bond Street, and a tatami room located on the 3rd floor, which is super fun for group dinners. Must-try roll: Alaska King Crab Crispy Rice (lemon aioli, chili, cilantro). The crab is bursting with flavor, and the spices add a nice kick.
Bond St, 6 Bond Street (between Lafayette Street and Broadway); 212-777-2500.
What happens when two former chefs from the three-Michelin-star-awarded restaurant Masa open their own Japanese joint? Neta. This 2012 newbie has made quite an impression on hungry New Yorkers with its A+ Japanese cuisine, which includes an array of traditional sushi rolls. If you're more the cooked-asparagus type than the raw-fish type, 11 vegetarian options are also available, like a Sweet Potato & Shiso Tempura roll.
Neta, 61 West 8th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212-505-2605.
Photo: Courtesy of Hasaki
This funky, graffiti-walled spot in Prospect Heights offers a serious selection of both traditional and inventive sushi. The prices are hard to beat, and the rolls are made with delicious fresh-off-the-boat fish. If you’re feeling adventurous, browse the Primo Special Rolls section of the menu ($7-$13), where you’ll find a roll named after the President (tuna, salmon, yellowtail with crunch, scallion, tobiko, and eel sauce) in addition to a yummy Mexican Rock ‘N’ Roll roll (spicy tuna, jalapeno, hichimi pepper, and crunch). We just love that crunch is a noun.
Geido Restaurant, 331 Flatbush Avenue (near Park Place); 718-638-8866; Brooklyn.
You know you’re in good hands when a sushi chef hand-selects each fish served at his restaurant, bases that selection not only on freshness but on the fish’s personality, and then makes sure to test each fishy twice for hazardous chemicals like mercury. Sushi master Naomichi Yasuda does all of the above at his elegant-yet- simple restaurant Sushi Yasuda. His preparation of the fish, which includes some super-rare options like Seki-Saba (a rare mackerel from Japan), is as clean and simple as the restaurant’s décor (think: walls, ceilings, and floors made from bamboo). He even looks down upon dunking his traditional sushi and sashimi options in soy sauce because he feels it ruins the flavors (although it’s available, if you must). If you’re a sushi purist, this is exactly the spot for you.
Sushi Yasuda, 204 East 43rd Street (at 3rd Avenue); 212-972-1001.
Blue Ribbon Sushi
The sushi gods love themselves some Blue Ribbon Sushi. So much so that after this cozy Soho spot opened in 1995, a handful of other Blue Ribbon sushispots cropped up around town. But the original is arguably still the best, thanks to chef Toshi Ueki’s talents with anything of the gill variety. He has delicacies flown in daily from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Sea of Japan for his innovative menu, which includes the godly Blue Ribbon maki roll (1/2 a lobster, shiso, and black caviar) and Spicy Crab roll (blue crab and shiso). Oh, and about that whole New Year’s diet thing. Yeah, gods don’t diet. They def order the Green-Tea Crème Brulee for dessert, and so should you.
Blue Ribbon Sushi, 119 Sullivan Street (at Prince Street); 212-343-0404.
Sushi of Gari
This dude Gari whips up seriously delish sushi at his five NYC locations. His rolls cost a pretty penny due to their mega high-quality ingredients and pristine presentation - some pieces look like they’ve been gift wrapped in thin sheets of seaweed decorated with bow-like drops of green wasabi – so we only make ressies here for splurge-worthy occasions.
Sushi of Gari, 130 West Broadway (at Duane Street); 212-285-0130; visit website for other locations.
For an additional $1.50 per roll, you can swap out white rice for organic wild rice at this traditional Prospect Heights gem, which boasts some killer vegetarian rolls like the Umeshiso (plum and shiso leaf) and Natto (fermented soybeans). If traditional fish-topped rolls are more your style, opt for the Melting in Your Mouth special roll (white tuna, yellowtail, avocado, an scallion). The fish is so fresh, it really does melt in your mouth.
Gen, 659 Washington Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue); 718-398-3550; Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of: Sushi of Gari