Two and a half years ago, I ventured to a seat at the sushi bar for the first time. This was before sushi bar experiences at Yasuda, Azabu, 15 East, and before a trip to Tsukiji for sushi breakfast. It was a time when I ate, like the commoners around me…. at a table. The place was Takesushi on 2nd Avenue, and I was here at the request of my colleagues to judge whether this place was “as good as” the sushi restaurants that they frequently hear me raving about.
The meal was excellent. However this information didn’t do my colleagues or my readers much good, a few months later in early 2011, Takesushi closed its doors once again.
I say again because this behavior is actually nothing new. Takesushi originally established itself on Park Avenue near Grand Central, and the main restaurant or offshoots have made appearances at Great Neck, Woodmere, 54th Street & 2nd Ave, Washington D.C. and even Toronto. In my initial review of the 2nd Ave location, I mentioned how it’s (arguably) the first sushi restaurant in New York, and linked users to the 1982 New York Time review.
Apparently Robin Kawada’s wasn’t done with his nomadic restaurant. Earlier this year Takesushi reappeared, this time in Sunnyside at a space that formerly housed a Romanian restaurant. Compared to the cramped 2nd Avenue location, the new dining room is cavernous.
The meal is still best experienced at the bar, where each piece of nigiri sushi comes at you straight from the hands of the chef. The menu has quite a wide variety of items, but just say omakase and be amazed.
It’s always a joy to sit and interact with the sushi chefs, though a few minutes into the meal it’s immediately apparent that the bar wasn’t optimized for the delivery of fish piece by piece. The chef’s are standing too low, making the ice box an obstacle without some assistance by the guests. So be prepared to slightly raise your plate to help facilitate the transfer, your chef will thank you for it, it’s worth the effort rather than taking the pieces on a plate all at once.
At $55, the sushi omakase is an astonishing value. The meal started with a whopping three appetizers: roasted scallops and vegetables, friend soft-shell crab with ponzu, and tempura vegetable sticks. As in true omakase fashion, your meal may vary, but this is a good indication of the quality and quantity you might receive. This being soft-shell crab season, the lightly fried crustacean with ponzu fruit vinegar was absolutely delicious.
Then came the sushi, requested to be served piece by piece. As we were the only guests at the table, the sushi pieces came aggressively, one after another. While you’re given the requisite pickled ginger and wasabi on the side, each piece is carefully brushed with sauce before it arrives on your plate, no separate dipping necessary.
The quality of the sushi was outstanding, and some stood out more than others. We were given two types of tuna (fatty and medium fatty), which taste perfectly aged (contrary to popular opinion, tuna isn’t the best tasting on day one). The orange clams provided spectacular texture and flavor. King salmon proved once again that not all orange fleshed fish were created equal. House cured salmon roe, unlike the store bought variety, was perfectly flavored and pops in your mouth as you bite down. The Santa Barbara uni was absolutely ginormous, although it lacked the intense flavor of the Japanese variety, I cannot complain about a large serving of uni.
For the price of one high end omakase meal in the City, you and a companion can enjoy a blissful sushi experience in Sunnyside. While you don’t get the fresh grated wasabi, or the bamboo lined tranquil dining room, the value is hard to beat. Easily the best sushi bar in Queens, by a significant margin.
What does this rating mean?
Note: Maybe we ought to give this place a 4/5 for the value? Rating takes into consideration the tremendous value proposition. The restaurant is easily accessible via the 7 train. The majority of the guests were Japanese.
4346 42nd St
Sunnyside, NY 11104