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When I read that Yasuda was leaving his namesake restaurant Sushi Yasuda to go back to Japan, I immediately picked up the phone and made a reservation in front of him because I knew if I didn’t do right then it’d end up being impossible to make a reservation in front of him. Luckily I did because a week later I tried to make a 2nd reservation and he was completely booked for the next month.
Sushi Yasuda has been my “go to” sushi place in New York for many years. The quality of the seafood is always outstanding (in particular their eel is by far the best in NY) and they definitely haves the best rice in NY.
Yasuda told me he is going back to Japan because his daughter will go to high school soon and they had to decide whether she would go to high school here or in Japan; he is 52 and he either needs to leave now or go when he is 57 and he decided he’d rather go now. He plans on opening a small 8 seat sushi bar in Tokyo (forgot what district), but that is up in the air as of now as it’s hard to find a good space and it’s possible he may end up working for someone else. He also said at this point in his career he just wants to perfect his craft and he needs to go to Japan to compete and learn at the highest level of competition.
Here’s what we got:
- Fugu kara-age (fried blowfish appetizer): This was listed as one of their special appetizers. It was perfectly fried pieces of blow fish with pickled grated daikon and scallions. It was excellent, the batter was light, the fish meat was very tender and clean tasting. 4.5/5
- Tsukemono (Pickles): They gave you this as a start to the meal. It was just a nice combo of slightly sweet pickled cucumber, seaweed and diced carrot. 4/5
- Big Eyed Toro (Tuna Belly): This was a nice way to start the meal off with a bang, this was one of best pieces of big eyed toro I’ve had in a while. So buttery and delicious, it was a beautifully marbled piece of fish. 4.7/5
- Uni (Sea Urchin): This was from Santa Barbara. Very clean tasting, creamy and a little bit briny. Really good. 4.5/5
- Blue Fin Toro (Tuna Belly): This was also excellent, fatty although not quite as fatty as the big eyed toro and a beautiful piece of fish although it wasn’t quite as good as the big eyed toro. 4.25/5
- Ebi (Cooked Shrimp): I’m not the biggest fan of cooked ebi, but the version here was really nice and I loved the rock salt and squeeze of lemon on it. 4.25/5
- Anago (Conger Eel): Eel is one of my favorite Japanese foods and Yasuda really just blows the competition in NY out of the water. The eel has such good texture and the meat is almost slightly sweet, I love the simple preparation of just being broiled with a dash of rock salt. 4.6/5
- Hamachi (Yellowtail): This was from Kyushu. Nice tender meat and a good flavor. 4/5
- Spanish Mackerel: I like Spanish mackerel a lot and the cut here was very nice and had a good clean taste. 4.5/5
- Butterfish: A nice piece of fish although butterfish is a fairly plain tasting fish. 4/5
- Farm Salmon: This was a really nice piece of salmon, very clean tasting. 4.25/5
- Wild Salmon: I really liked the wild salmon, it was interesting that it really did taste different than the farm salmon and since they gave them to us at the same time you were able to really compare. 4.5/5
- Snow Crab: Crab sushi is not one of my favorite sushi because it generally ends up being sort of bland. That said the version here was nice as the crab meat was quite sweet. 4/5
- Mackerel: This was a great piece of mackerel and also one of the cleanest and least “fishy” tasting pieces of mackerel I’ve ever had. 4.25/5
- Anago (Conger Eel): I had to get another piece because it was so good. 4.6/5
- Unagi / shirayaki: This is always one of my favorite things at Yasuda and it was so good again. The quality of the meat and flavor is just so much better than everywhere else in NY. 4.6/5
- Oyster: Unfortunately they didn’t have Peace Passage oyster which is what I normally get. However, this oyster was still quite good, I love the rock salt and lemon on it. 4.25/5
- Big Eyed Toro: I had to get another piece because it was so good. 4.7/5
Sentiment aside, I think this was the best meal I’ve had at Sushi Yasuda and my GF agreed with me. Also fyi, they are not closing (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/din...). Mitsuru Tamura is going to be head sushi chef, I’ve eaten in front of him several times and he is excellent. I’m sad Yasuda is leaving, but everything must come to an end. This is one of my favorite restaurants in NY and I really hope they are able to maintain the high standard of food that I have come to enjoy.
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