Four years after SoHo soba house Honmura An closed, Chowhounds still dearly miss it. But they're warming to its month-old successor, Niko. It helps that the new place has brought in familiar faces like Hiro Sawatari, a sushi chef from hound favorite Yasuda. Lau reports a solid showing by the sushi bar, highlighted by Japanese mackerel, shima aji (striped jack), salt-grilled unagi (freshwater eel), and supremely tender bluefin toro, "as good as any of the top sushi places in NY."
The kitchen's also doing great things, executing a menu developed by Josh DeChellis (La Fonda del Sol, BarFry). Fresh, tender soy-burnt octopus features a bright mix of watermelon radish, macerated cucumber, and kiwi, Chuonfood says. He also enjoys the steak tartare: rough-chopped Creekstone beef with soy-cured quail egg, horseradish, and Japanese pickles. foodwhisperer digs the clean flavors of house-made tofu (with shiitake broth and wasabi) and crispy sweet shrimp (with lemon and Sriracha salt). The décor is minimal, like Honmura An's, but there's an added buzz from the bar. "It’s definitely got a bit of a hipper vibe than most sushi places," Lau says, "and the crowd is definitely a little more downtown chic."
170 Mercer Street (between Houston and Prince streets), Manhattan