2017 was a year of unprecedented growth for our (yes, our) favorite cuisine. Omakase focused restaurants continued to open across North America at an unprecedented clip. And the continued rise of social media, a medium that is as beneficial to sushi life as any other, helped publicize those openings as quickly as ever.
My travels this past year took me from Vancouver to Montreal to Montenegro, but with every step, I found a way to satisfy my insane addiction. I've collected some of my personal favourites below (sorry Kazu Nori, maybe next year. Then again, maybe not). Thanks for joining me alongside this ridiculous hobby, and here's to even more exciting adventures in 2018. I've got some great things planned, but email email@example.com with suggestions as always.
Uni. A spoon.
Sakanaya is owned and operated by Chef Shigeru Nishida, a man who is all-present as the Itamae behind the counter. You may be familiar with Nishida-san from his ramen joint Nishida Sho-ten, which is literally next door. Sakanaya's space is more minimalist than Nishida Sho-ten, and for that matter, many of New York City's sushi restaurants. As a traditional, edomae-style, omakase-only sushi spot in midtown Manhattan, there's nothing truly unique about the concept. But the execution, the value and the warmth of Chef Nishida are stand-outs, which is saying something considering that I (a) go to many, many sushi restaurants and (b) was completely sober throughout. It's a good thing I was though, because I was fully able to appreciate the omakase in all it's $80 glory.
Sakanaya became an izakaya in 2017, but read my review here
Down the staircase. Subterranean.
Selection of sashimi. Park's omakase.
Sushi by Bou
The east village's newest sushi restaurant hasn't gotten the press of more famous restaurants in lower Manhattan, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth your time. A long sushi bar, a bright, open space, sheered, wooden tables - a sushi-loving adult could do far worse in the city, whether you're with a group, or dining alone like yours truly. Uogashi shifts between omakase and a la carte deftly, though the food and service are far from perfect. But if you're looking for a decent sushi restaurant, the best option starting with the letter "U" in Manhattan isn't Ushiwakamaru - it's Uogashi.
See my full reviewhere
East village, NYC
Times Sq., NYC
That colour. Uogashi's reasonably priced omakase.
A great restaurant starts with the food, sure, but it continues with the experience, with the atmosphere, with the service, and with the ambiance. Do you feel any differently eating your delicious meal at the restaurant rather than if you sat in front of your television, munching away, scrolling through your PVR? Sushi by Bou in Midtown is a hidden treat, a true tribute to the lower level sushiya of Tokyo.
Unquestionably, when Chef Park himself is behind the counter (and in the kitchen), the restaurant hums. When I consider what makes a successful sushi restaurant (to my amateur eyes), having a chef (or itamae) who is as involved as Park is in his restaurant is key. It doesn’t hurt that Park’s waza – his technique, his training, his expertise – is impressive.
See my full review here