This is going to sound like a broken record, but I’m still looking for a good, reliable sushi restaurant. One that meets the following criteria:
- Quality – the food needs to be good, traditional nigiri.
- Price – to spend is a necessary sacrifice, but splurging weekly is a sin.
- Selection – not being too picky, but there needs to be uni, scallops, and at least two types of tuna.
- Convenience – availability at the bar with a same day phone call.
This quest has taken me to many restaurants, but there still isn’t one that fulfilled all the objectives. Sushi Azabu is an amazing value, but difficult to book. Katsuno has great Japanese food at reasonable prices, but no sushi bar. I thought Yasu in Forest Hills showed great promise, but the recent move to Austin Street makes it slightly inconvenient. Then there’s Takesushi, which I absolutely loved, but it disappeared from 2nd Avenue seemingly without warning as it’s done many times in its storied history. (There’s recent news that it’s back in Sunnyside Queens!)
Today my quest takes me to Tsushima on 47th Street. Nestled between a Japanese noodle store (Onya) and beloved late night dining destination Donburiya, the black facade is very much understated, which is very much how I like my sushi restaurants.
The clientele is predominantly Japanese, always a good sign. On this weekend evening there were quite a few families, though on weekdays it’s the gathering spot for Japanese “salarymen”.
Taking our seat in the middle of the bar, we observed for a moment the interaction between sushi chefs. There’s definitely a lot of tradition going on here, from the hierarchical stations (master at front of bar), to the passing of ingredients (higher value ingredients handled by master chef, dispensed as needed). I liked what I saw and uttered “omakase”. (note: this isn’t the Westernized menu item, but rather wholeheartedly accepting what the chef has to offer)
As we were waiting for the sushi chef to get started, some appetizers are not to be missed. The beef tongue is an outstanding value at $10. The thin slices have a soft delicate texture like a filet mignon, and is seasoned with ponzu and scallions.
I’m usually against overpaying for chawanmushi, which is basically (and literally) an egg custard steamed in a tea cup. This one, however, had plenty of crab meat and overwhelms you, in a good way, with umami that only shellfish can provide.
The sushi here is rooted in traditional Edo style nigiri, with very very subtle hints of modernization and (gasp) fusion. The first piece was fluke paried with what appears to be a red version of yuzu kosho. I’m a big fan of this peppery sauce with any protein, and was surprised by how this subtle dab makes sushi exciting.
From there we had the big eye snapper, hamachi yellowtail, seared and salted salmon, yellow tail belly, giant clam. All was well, until he brought out the spicy scallop. Being a traditionalist I was admittedly bit shocked that this traditional omakase would have spicy-anything, but frankly it wasn’t that bad.
A piece of uni put everything back on the right track.
I was thrilled to have found Tsushima, it’s a great moderately price sushi restaurant that features a solid omakase. The search continues, but this place makes me happy enough for repeat visits.
What does this rating mean?
141 E 47th St
New York, NY 10017