Cruising below hound radar, literally, is Azabu, a basement sushi spot in Tribeca that a pleasantly surprised Lau ranks among the best in town.
This is a serene, traditionally appointed hideaway, downstairs from sister restaurant Greenwich Grill, which does Mediterranean-Japanese fusion. Highlights of Lau’s $55 omakase dinner included a light, refreshing starter of tofu with crab; tender grilled red snapper neck; first-rate sashimi (tuna and red snapper); and a seven-piece sampling of nigiri sushi distinguished by some of the best rice and fish he has had in New York. Great value, he writes, “and the quality is really top notch.”
juju891 emphatically agrees—“everything was so subtle, delicious and fresh”—and places Azabu on a par with upper-end favorite 15 East. Lau doesn’t go quite that far, but gives it the nod over the hound-endorsed Ushiwaka Maru.
Another sleeper pick, at least for sashimi, is Kyo Ya in the East Village. Better known for its elaborate multicourse kaiseki dinners, it also puts together a splendid sashimi course à la carte, very fresh and beautifully presented over ice, kobetobiko reports. One standout bite, she says, was octopus served two ways: slices and suction cups. Also recommended: oysters, anago (sea eel), and raw fish dishes such as tai with shiso flowers and hirame kobujime (marinated with kelp). Don’t expect a wide selection, kobetobiko advises; Kyo Ya, after all, isn’t a sushi specialist. But what you get will be choice.
On the Upper East Side, a neighborhood veteran, Tokubei 86, remains a solid option for sushi, MMRuth advises. Fish is wonderfully fresh and well-cut (hamachi is a standout). Beyond sushi, MMRuth recommends clams cooked in broth, tender marinated squid with salmon roe, and raw oysters (served with ponzu and sliced scallion). As Upper East Side Japanese goes, she adds, Tokubei is not quite as good (nor as expensive) as Inase, but a big step up from the comparably priced Ichiro.
Sushi Azabu [Tribeca]
428 Greenwich Street (between Laight and Vestry streets), Manhattan
Kyo Ya [East Village]
94 E. Seventh Street (near First Avenue), Manhattan
Tokubei 86 [Upper East Side]
314 E. 86th Street (between First and Second avenues), Manhattan