Sushi Zen was always a bit of a mystery to me. In search of the best sushi options in New York City, I always try and review those that ranked highly on other sites (yes, they exist). Sushi Zen is one that always intruiged me; it's in Times Square, so unless I wanted the equivalent experience to putting a couple of forks through my eyes, I wasn't going to be going there.
Fortunately (for both me and the quality of this blog), I work close by, and as a result, a lunch time trip wasn't too onerous. Two things immediately struck me about Sushi Zen: firstly, how absolutely packed it was, even during a weekday lunch. The second was the quality of the fish, which seemed a bit beyond the standard that would be expected in a touristy area.
The Food was as diverse a lunch menu as you will find for strictly sushi restaurants. You'll note the pinkish hue of the O-Toro in the picture to the upper right/left. Impressively, there was also Chu-Toro on the menu, along with a littany of other options. For those that are looking for a higher-end sushi restaurant prior to the theatre, it's helpful to know that the menu comes as advertised. The Uni nigiri was impressively well layered, although not of the highest quality. The picture to the right shows the beginnings of the creamy and runny aspects that indicate a cheaper issue.
The one drawback to the food was certainly the maki. The rolls themselves were poorly packed (note the gaps in the anago/avocado roll), and the rice loose and falling apart. I'm the first to admit that maki doesn't normally appear at the higher end restaurants, but the minimum expectation should be that the individual pieces are somewhat uniform. That clearly isn't the case to the right.
The Atmopshere is expansive, with high ceilings and multiple seating areas. There certainly isn't much of a view, with scaffolding and the diamond district lurking outside. Sushi Zen is clean though, and clearly has perfected what they do. Their staff is knowledgeable about the menu; the Sushi Zen website is one of the few that I've seen with a history of the cuisine dating back to 400 B.C. While I have my concerns with the food that appeals to the broader public, Sushi Zen is a recommend, especially for those that are visiting the theatre or looking for a fancier place for a business lunch.