In 1963, Craig Claiborne—the very first food/restaurant critic of The New York Times— reviewed two new Japanese restaurants, Nippon and Saito. The former was the very first sushi restaurant in New York. In the review he mentioned sushi, noting that it “may seem a trifle too ‘far out’ for many American palates.”
Raw fish has come a long way since then. Sushi emerged even more on the New York dining landscape in the 1980s and, by the ‘90s, it exploded; everyone was eating it. Today, there are affordable (if somewhat ho-hum) neighborhood sushi spots in every part of town in the five boroughs as well as revelatory (and expensive) omakase rooms sprinkled all over Manhattan.
But how to sort through the proliferation of sushi restaurants, the near ubiquity of those red paper lanterns donning the facades of Japanese restaurants everywhere? Here’s a pro tip: in New York to eat great sushi, you’re going to have to feel a bit like Mr. Monopoly for a night.
Sure, there are some affordable above-average places, but for truly great, mind-bending, my-life-will-never-be-the-same sushi? Be prepared to spend a pretty penny.
That said, here are 10 restaurants serving the best sushi in NYC, some pricier than others.
Omakase Room by Mitsu
Located in a nondescript cellar where Christopher and Gay Streets meet in the West Village, this eight-seat spot serves up—as the name suggests—a 12-piece omakase menu for $180. When Osaka-born chef Mitsunori Isoda’s fish hits the palate, it melts like butter. There’s also a small selection of a la carte sushi pieces available to order.
Since 2004, chef Masa Takayama has been raising eyebrows and exploding taste buds with his exotic omakase menu that only the one-percent (and the people who love them) can afford in his eponymous restaurant tucked away in the building formerly known as the TimeWarner Center (10 Columbus Circle).
Sushi is a luxury. Masa sushi is an extreme luxury. Masa’s specialty is serving extremely hard-to-find fish that is flown in from Japan regularly.
In order to eat like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, you’ll have to fork out $950 for a spot at the sushi bar (or $750 to sit at a table), making this three-star Michelin restaurant the most expensive place to dine in the United States.
Walk into a nondescript office building, pull open the even more nondescript door, and enter the purple lounge. Soon you’ll be sitting at a half-moon-shaped sushi bar. Welcome to Michelin-starred Noda, a posh sushi den in the Flatiron District.
The man cutting fish behind the bar is lauded erstwhile Tokyo sushi chef, Tsunoda. The 20-piece omakase here will set you back $315 before sake or wine and tip.
Opened at the end of 2021 and an offshoot of lauded uptown Michelin-starred sushi institution Sushi Noz, this Chelsea sushi eatery deviates from its older uptown sibling by serving up somewhat more adventurous and flavor-exploding fare thanks to the long-term aging technique they’ve mastered here at seven-seat Noz 17. The menu intersperses pieces of nigiri with otsumami, Japanese beer-drinking snacks. The 30-course omakase costs about $400.
A lot of high-end sushi restaurants boast that they have fish flown in from Japan several times per week. Rosella, located in the East Village, does the opposite.
Most of the sushi handed to you by the sushi chef here was caught in the United States. And much of it comes from in and around New York City, making Rosella one of the most sustainable sushi restaurants around. It also happens to be fantastic-tasting fish, by the way.
In addition to the a la carte sashimi, and nigiri, they also offer excellent Asian-inspired items too—like the spicy shrimp laksa and crudo amberjack pesto.
Shion 69 Leonard
Hailing from Tokyo, Shion Uino is one talented sushi chef. He arrived in New York a few years ago, having spent time cutting up fish at three-star Michelin Tokyo restaurant Sushi Saito.
Similar to Masa, this Tribeca spot puts an emphasis on rare and hard-to-find raw fish. But whatever chef Shion hands you is certain to be melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The omakase will run you $420 each (including gratuity) before beverages.
Located a couple of blocks south of Union Square, Shuko is run by two chefs who sharpened their knives at Masa. But don’t mistake this place for that temple of raw fish on Columbus Circle. Shuko has a more festive atmosphere, even if the omakase menu will cost you $228.
For the splurgers out there, the additional uni tasting (with sake pairing) for $110 is incredible.
This Michelin-starred Midtown East raw fish sanctuary has just eight seats and serves up a preciously delicious omakase menu of seafood flown in daily from Japan. The $200 menu includes four small dishes, nine pieces of nigiri, a handroll, and a bowl of miso soup.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
If you want to save some money on some of the best sushi in NYC, go at lunch. Sushi Ginza Onodera, an offshoot of a lauded Tokyo restaurant group called Ginza, is an eight-seat temple of sushi on Fifth Avenue near Bryant Park.
The lunch omakase is just $130, $180, or $250 depending on the size and types of seafood you want to eat. At dinner, eight appetizers, nine pieces of nigiri, one tomago (an omelet sushi piece of sorts), miso soup, and dessert costs $450. Or if you go at 5:30 pm, the dinner omakase goes down to $380.
Perhaps one of the most famous sushi restaurants in New York City, thanks to chef Daisuke Nakazawa’s supporting role in the popular 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Nakazawa spends a good portion of the 111 minutes on film trying and failing—and ultimately perfecting at the very end—to make a tomago.
Now he’s in his eponymous West Village sushi restaurant and, given the high-quality sushi here and the popularity of the place, it’s a relative bargain compared to some of the other sushi sanctuaries in town. A seat at the bar will cost $180 for the luscious 20-piece nigiri-only omakase delight. And yes, you’ll get one of Nakazawa’s famous tomagos too.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.