So this year we got O Ya, Shuko, Ushiwakamaru 2.0, Kosaka, and now, Sushi Zo. (maybe others?) In 2016, we've got Ginza Onodera coming, and continued rumours of a Sushi Yoshitake outpost. Also, new chefs at both Jewel Bako and 15 East.
Had a chance to check out Ushiwakamaru, Kosaka, 15East (lunch) and Kanoyama in the last week+ & it was an interesting contrast.
Of all these meals, I was most impressed with 15East with Taka-san. I hadn't had a full omakase with him since Masa left (he was doing the second-half of service when Masa was still there), and I was almost shocked at how good this meal was. He's kept much of Masa's menu intact, but much of the quality-control (eg. rice/fish temp) was as good as it's ever been (or maybe better). Perfect pacing, an interesting/new neta-order, a couple of interesting new presentations, and the cured fish was all as good as ever. Excited to go back again for dinner.
Kosaka just opened a few weeks ago, so definitely gave it a bit of lee-way on service (awkward), and pacing (screwy). Environment is gorgeous - the most ginza-like environment in NYC. Beautiful sushi bar. Neta was not as high quality as 15East, but still very good (and occasionally excellent). Rice temperature was wildly all over the place - which didn't seem to be on purpose (possibly related to some service timing issues), and rice texture was a bit mushy. That said, I would go back once they have some more time to figure out the service kinks. Meal was enjoyable and everyone was very friendly. One of the owners (Mihyun) is running the front-of-house.
New Ushiwakamaru is very nice. Odd part of 23rd street, but inside features a beautiful new bar. I thought this meal was vastly improved over previous meals at Ushiwakamaru. Rice temp/texture was stellar (though a bit on the cool side), and the Neta was very high quality - as good as 15East. I still don't get why they ask patrons to put soy on some pieces themselves, but other than that, there's no question Ushiwakamaru is in the top tier of sushi shops in the city now.
Kanoyama still perplexes me - Nobu has so much talent and such a broad knowledge of japanese cooking, but it's such a weirdly casual environment, and their marketing makes no sense. That said, this was the best meal of the bunch, on a pretty dead tuesday night (bar half-full). Started off with some 'pregnant' snow crab (served in shell), and salted blowfish shirako that had been roast over cherry wood. Both amazing, rustic and authentic and unlike anything I've had anywhere else in the city. 18+ pieces of sushi with a whole new set of preps. I have probably eaten with Nobu 50+ times and there's something new every time I'm there. Neta quality ranged from super-crazy-high to just-better-than-average, but he makes up for it w/ technique. His style of nigiri is so different that it's hard to compare with the other three, but it's still my favorite and closest to the sort of flavors and textures that you get at the top spots in Tokyo.
Will be interesting to see how Zo does (another style unique to LA), and i'm pretty excited about Onodera. Too many choices! Would be interested to hear others favorites.
Happy sushi new year, all!