Recently, Naomichi Yasuda retired to Japan, leaving his eponymous Sushi Yasuda in the capable hands of Mitsuru Tamura. Notwithstanding this departure, the restaurant continues to live up to its extremely high standards, with the same emphasis on selecting the freshest raw fish, flawless execution and respect for tradition. And Mr. Yasuda is still involved from afar, aiding in the sourcing of fish for the restaurant, particularly tuna, from Japan.
Like the sushi, the restaurant’s elegant design is simple and largely unadorned: most surfaces are of smooth blond bamboo planks that exude warmth and tranquility. The cuisine is resolutely traditional: there are no innovative, fusion-style combinations here, the size of the pieces of sushi is almost dainty with no overhang of the fish from the rice and the restaurant essays to inhibit the seemingly genetic predisposition of Americans to bathe, slather, indeed marinate, their sushi in their soy sauce bowls. This focus on purity pays off, as the essence of each piece of fish often bursts through in revelatory ways. There is buttery soft blue fin fatty tuna, rich king salmon and a sea urchin so intense, complex, creamy, smooth and sublime that it has to be experienced to be believed. An exotic array of fish not often available is also offered, including a variety of clams and eel and unusual options like seki-saba, a rare Japanese mackerel.
Many gourmands think that Sushi Yasuda has the best rice in NYC. The care with which it is prepared is made clear in the following explanation by the restaurant: “Perhaps the most complex and difficult part of making sushi is perfecting the rice. Yasuda uses a domestically grown mix of Japanese short and medium grain rice, combined with Japanese red and white rice vinegars, Japanese sea salt and small amount of sugar. The water has been purified with bincho-tan (Japanese charcoal).” Although it is fun to traverse the menu’s oft-unexplored terrain, the omakase is still typically the best option and, if it is available, the L-shaped sushi bar directly in front of the sushi chefs is the optimal way to dine. But be cautioned: the sushi is served quickly and the restaurant can be brusque about shepherding diners out once the 90 minute time limit has elapsed. This too, however, is in keeping with its authenticity.
204 E. 43rd St.
New York (nr. Third Ave.)
212-972-1001 Mon-Fri, noon-2:15pm, 6pm-10:15pm; Sat, 6pm-10:15pm