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28 September 2006

Sushi Yasuda

Although I loved Shake Shack, a more subliminal dining experience was dinner at Sushi Yasuda.  Getting from downtown to midtown wasn't that easy given that the UN was in session, and the Secret Service were having great fun screeching through the streets of New York, hanging out of SUV windows, brandishing guns.  Nonetheless I made it in time which meant I had time to book a table there for dinner when I go to NY with Silverbrowess later in the year.  I could tell, just from walking in, and knowing who had booked my table that evening, that I and she would love it.  My dining companion last week was a bit of a legend, Steve Plotnicki.  Who you may ask, is he?  Google him and find out.  But the reason I wanted to have dinner with him was because he is responsible for founding and running one of the best food forums out there, Opinionated About (registration required).  He has a blog of the same name and if you wander over there, you'll notice not only does it live up to its name, but he has a formidable track record of eating in some fantastic restaurants.  I therefore knew that when he said Yasuda was good, I was probably going to like it.  He was also one of the people who offered me sage advice on Urasawa, that I promptly ignored and paid for.


I had an opportunity to scour the menu and decide what I wanted.  Steve arrived, told me to ignore the menu, we were going for the omakase.  He nodded at chef Naomichi Yasuda behind the counter and so the adventure began.  What followed was a meal of astounding proportions, which as Steve said at the time and since, gave the impression chef was trying to kill us by overfeeding us.  The idea of omakase is that the chef serves what he believes is best.  Chef Yasuda clearly thought a hell of a lot was good that day.

Round after round of perfect nigiri, sashimi and hand-rolls, and whatever else took the chefs fancy were served on to our banana leaf, that serves as a plate.  I know the argument goes that what counts in decent sushi is the rice, but my main memory is of the fish.  For example, the four types of salmon nigiri laid to rest any niggling doubts I'd had recently that 99% of salmon served in restaurants is bland.  Similarly the otoro (fatty tuna) was meltingly beautiful.  It tasted of steak rather than fish, and was packed full of that lesser known taste, umami.  Throughout, we were drinking my new favourite, ice-cold sake.  I have no idea of its name, but it was as good as what I drank at Urasawa.

As a non-food aside, Steve invited me to join him after dinner at the Mets.  I'd been to a baseball match, the Mets as it happens, once before, about ten years ago.  I don't know the first thing about the game, but that night, they were playing the Florida Marlins and were set to win the Northern League East Division.  It was one of the most enjoyable sporting events I've been to recently.  The atmosphere in the stadium was electric and the mood was pure elation for two hours.  It was also very all-American, and great for that.


Sushi Yasuda, 204 E 43rd Street, New York, NY, 10017
Tel: +1 (212) 972 1001

Google Maps
Google Earth  (download)

What others say
Gayot -  If Sushi Yasuda is a shrine to raw fish, Naomichi Yasuda is the high priest
Ulterior Epicure - I was surprised, and disappointed not to see Sushi Yasuda get any stars [from Michelin]


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Hi silberbrowonfood: Thrilled to hear you liked Sushi Yasuda. I've been twice now and it's definitely one of my favorite places to eat. Please tell Steven hello from u.e. *wink*


It's a great place. I'm not sure whether I dare pass on your greetings to Steve or not.

Mmmm, sounds incredible. I've never had otoro and I think my life is poorer for it. But some day...

Its actually the National League East Division, not the Northern League, or as we call it here, the NL East. But we appreciate you liking the game anyway so let's call it even.

Jake - thanks for setting me straight on that one. I was in Boston recently just as they got through to the World Series. I quickly learned that getting basic facts wrong, let alone batting stats, is a very easy way to rile a baseball fan.

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