Sushi Yasuda, the closest thing to Jiro in NYC?

Sushi Yasuda
204 E 43rd St
(between 3rd Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10017

I recently watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi again because LAW had not seen it yet.  It was, again, inspiring and humbling.  For LAW’s birthday, I decided to take him out to what I have synthesized to be the closest thing to Jiro we could find in NYC.

We ordered the omakase, which translates to, “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese.  Ordering the omakase means you are entrusting your entire meal to the sushi chef.  It is a form of respect at these nice sushi places and also the way to go because you end up getting the freshest fish and potentially trying some new fish you did not know about.  The omakase at Sushi Yasuda ranges in price (averages at $125 per person), depending on how much you can eat and what kind of fish you are served.  The sushi chef serves about 20-30 pieces of nigiri sushi, one by one, ensuring that every piece you get is served at the proper fish temperature and rice temperature.  After the last nigiri of the set, usually an egg custard one, he asks if you would like anything else.  Our meal, including tip, was $350.  You are supposed to eat using your hands.  There is a pinched piece of cloth drenched in lemon water for you to wipe your fingers after each bite.

Bluefin Tuna

Big Eyed Fatty Tuna – best tuna I’ve had

Snapper and Durade

New Zealand King Salmon, Hawaii Salmon, Alaska King Salmon – favorite: NZ

Sea Scallop with lemon and salt – incredibly sweet and tender, salt was amazing

    Scallop Himo (ribbons) and Scallop Shirako (sperm sac) – female served to LAW, male served to me, both suuuuuuuuuper creamy and sweet… a bit strange

Warasa Yellowtail – crispy/crunchy!

Shimaaji Yellowtail

Orange Clam – very sea-tasting…

Shrimp – cooked and very sweet

Oyster – a.m.a.z.i.n.g. BEST oyster I’ve ever had.  So incredibly sweet and creamy with a bit of lemon juice.  Melts in your mouth and fuses with the warm, chewy, slightly vinegary rice.

Fluke Fin (muscle of the fluke), Fluke – fluke fin was very interesting… chewy and very rich

Mackerel, Jack Mackerel

Salmon Roe, Arctic Char – roe was extremely fresh, the skin snapped with the slightest pressure from your mouth, melded well with the rice.  Seaweed is also roasted to perfection

Trigger Fish – tasted a bit like the crunchy Yellowtail

Uni Roll – LAW described it as truly experiencing umami.  Uni was creamy, sweet, not briney at all, and just… I can’t even describe it… just UMAMI bursting in your mouth.

Toro Scallion Roll – Toro was scooped up from a bowl of mushy fatty tuna… at any other restaurant, this tuna would’ve been the old leftover scraps.  But here, it was delicate, sweet, slightly marinated toro.  Scallions gave it a nice kick.  Seaweed, again, was amazing.

Unagi Kuro (dark freshwater eel), Sawani (fresh white sea eel) – eel is one that we always order at typical sushi places because it is cooked and therefore does not rely on freshness as much.  Tasting the eel here change my opinion completely.  Eel needs to be fresh.  They were both roasted for us right after the toro roll and were not drenched in that terrible sweet eel sauce.  Flavor relied on freshness of eel and marinade.  So… sweet.  The sawani literally melted in my mouth.

Egg Custard – Just like at Jiro’s place, the omakase ends with the egg sushi.  In the documentary, you learn that Jiro does not let you crack an egg until 10 years of apprenticeship.  Even then, it took one of the guys almost a year to master the custard and be allowed to serve it at the table.  I didn’t understand this until trying the custard at Sushi Yasuda.  Egg is egg, how difficult could it be?  This was the fluffiest egg I have ever had.  It tasted like air with essence of deliciously sweet egg… with a hint of a bit of fried egg at the end… serious umami.  Oddly enough, it went really well with the rice.

Omelet – I didn’t like this one as much as the custard because it was more dense.  Still good though.

Surprise Birthday Fruit Plate – When I made my reservations a week in advance, I had asked if they could do something special because it was a birthday.  They asked if the birthday was for “the male or the female.” I was confused by this question but realized they noted “male” to remember to bring the fruit out for LAW and not me.  I never brought up the fruit plate again a week later at dinner but after our last course, they diligently brought out the plate.

Everything was very well paced, like a symphony as Jiro described it.  The rice is incredible.  If I could, I would just order a bowl of rice with a few sheets of their seaweed and be more than content.  The fish was truly the freshest and most well prepared that I’ve had.  The restaurant itself is small though very spacious (few seats for the amount of space).  I made sure to make reservations for the bar because only then can your omakase be served one by one.  The bar is brightly lit to a warm homey hue.  There is no music to distract your tasting adventure.  They say its best to come solo because it is a place to really taste, though I thoroughly enjoyed having my very best tasting partner with me.  Just leave the chatters at home.

Thank you for your an amazing night!




6 thoughts on “Sushi Yasuda, the closest thing to Jiro in NYC?

  1. I haven’t been to Yasuda since Yasuda himself moved back to Japan. I’m glad to hear the quality has not dropped since the master went home. glad you had a fantastic meal

    1. It is indeed still amazing! Althoughhhh, my new favorite omakase is at Kura. Check it out if you haven’t! More lively interaction with the chef, a mix of Osaka style cooked foods and sushi, great sake.

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