To be completely honest, I didn't have high hopes for Sushi Yasaka. I know I say that often on my blog - likely because I'm a gigantic pessimist - but this time it really was true. The restaurant is located on the Upper West Side, and I tend to try and avoid sushi restaurants located on the Upper West Side.
It's nothing against the American Dream or anything, but I have found that eating sushi in the vicinity of families is a bad omen. I'm not sure if it's just correlation or causation, but sushi restaurants that appeal to families tend to be worse. And the Upper West Side of New York City is FILLED with families.
Fortunately, there's a reason that stereotypes are dangerous. Not only was Sushi Yasaka delicious, but it also had a wonderful atmosphere (more on that later). The food was completely reasonable, with an omakase offering for around $40. Sure it comes all on one platter (pictured right), but smart sushi bloggers can just photograph each piece of nigiri individually. Once again, Sushi of Gari can take note from another restaurant how to effectively use sauce/toppings on nigiri (hint: it's not by dumping it on).
The Atmosphere was a revelation, particularly given my expectations. Dark but not depressing, it sort of felt like a much trendier restaurant down in Soho. There are a lot of tables at Sushi Yasaka, so don't expect something intimate; but given how busy it was, I was impressed that I didn't feel overwhelmed.
That's not to say everything was perfect; the service was slow, and the rice was a bit crunchy for my tastes. While the waitstaff impressively knew everything on the omakase plate, they brought out our orders at completely different times. I know I've said it 1,000 times, but this is sushi - you aren't cooking anything, so nailing the timing shouldn't be too difficult.
While I wouldn't make a special trip from elsewhere in New York, Yasaka is the best sushi I've had on the upper west side, and a worthy visit for those living or staying in the area. Recommended.
SUSHI YASAKA MANHATTAN, NY
Upper West Side. $30-$50 per person.
So here's the thing about Sushi Yasaka ... if you're looking to get your family into sushi, it's ideal.