Okay, I'm not looking to stir up more controversy here, but I feel compelled to share: my husband and I ate at Nozawa for lunch day before yesterday, and it was just wonderful, as always.
We were there for nearly forty-five minutes. We were treated politely, came away full, and spent about $45 each including a drink.
He served the little tray of tuna pieces to start (which is always my least favorite part), then yellowtail, albacore, uni, blue crab handroll, monkfish liver handroll, giant clam with shiso, and at least one other item, which I can't seem to recall at this moment. He didn't have any oysters (ocean water too warm, he said), and that made me sad, but otherwise it was a spectacular meal, and well worth the price.
The uni was the best I've ever had, the giant clam snappy, sweet and tender, and the albacore a lovely creamy mass with a gentle tang of sauce... an all-around great meal. Better than at the fish market in Tokyo.
I loved the meal, but I was distracted by the recent arguments on this board and I couldn't help but speculate: is this man terrible? is there any way I could view him as such? is the rice wrong? is the fish mediocre, or just average? am I being rushed? does this plastic plate offend me? do I feel cheated?
Nope, I just don't get it. I couldn't muster up a yes to any of those questions. There was no larger-than-life evil. There was no plain mediocrity, no snappishness towards employees, nothing. Just a very good meal at a fair price. It's true, as has been written by anti-Nozawans on this board, that there was no overt good-natured prattle, no "sales pitch" ala Teru Sushi, nor was there fine pottery and elegant presentation ala Tama Sushi. I'm not sure why any of those things matter. Isn't it the food what matters?
Nozawa did not kiss my butt with all that stuff, at least not in the way some seem to want. He did kiss it, but by getting up early in the morning and trundling down to the fish market and obsessively picking out the best fish for my meal. He kissed my butt by offering food to me without fake adornement and window dressing designed to fool me. He kissed my butt by remembering what I like and giving it to me. And he kissed my butt by treating me seriously and not pandering to me. I don't want to be good-naturedly convinced that I had a good lunch. I want to actually have one.
I've been eating there for 16 years, so I'm clearly biased, but as hard as I tried to confirm what was being said about the place, I couldn't. It remains one of the only places where I am willing to spend that much on lunch. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who avoids the place because of what has been written here deserves never to taste that uni.