Food & Drink

The 10 Best Under-the-Radar Sushi Spots in NYC

Published On 04/23/2015 Published On 04/23/2015

Don't get us wrong, when it comes to NYC sushi, Masa is great. And so is Yasuda. And Nakazawa. But, weirdly, there are, like, a LOT of other sushi places in NYC (weird, right?), and a LOT of also-great ones that don't get nearly the same kind of media love. These are those places, the 10 best under-the-radar sushi spots in NYC, all of which you won't find on ANY of the recent "best of" lists from NY Mag, Time Out, Eater, Gothamist, or Village Voice.
 

Kyo Ya

East Village
Good news for raw fish lovers -- while this subterranean Japanese restaurant is known for an exquisite kaiseki tasting that requires a strict reservation, the top-notch sushi and sashimi are offered a la carte at any time. The ingredients change frequently, but the quality never wavers (expect the freshest Hokkaido octopus or Tasmanian salmon trout, for example). Pressed sushi is another specialty, featuring firmly-packed rectangles of shiso and ginger-infused rice topped with buttery mackerel or soy-marinated salmon.

Thrillist

Yuba

East Village
Armed with primo ingredients like Santa Barbara uni and king salmon, sushi masters (and Masa alums!!!) George Ruan and Jack Wei have turned their unassuming 9th St storefront into an unassuming 9th St temple of raw fish that rivals the city’s big-name joints (minus the high-roller price tags). Don’t skip the namesake yuba dishes -- especially the sea urchin starter.
 

Sushi Katsuei

Park Slope
Bypass the California roll-eating crowds and head straight to the wooden counter, which is presided over by a team of skilled fish slicers. From behind the bar, they dispense nigiri in its most traditional form -- mounds of tart, loosely-packed rice and slivers of fish amped up by a dabble of wasabi or a brush of citrus OR a brush of wasabi and a dabble of citrus. With an omakase that starts at just $45, dinner here is by far one of the best deals in town.

Courtesy of Tristan Wheelock

Momo Sushi Shack

Bushwick
The sushi bombs at this wood-clad Bushwick hangout are, well, bomb. The brainchild of Makoto Suzuki, who also owns Williamsburg’s Samurai Mama and Bozu, the hefty seaweed-less orbs come in creative combos like the Spicy McBomb (tuna, cucumber, spicy mayo, katafi) and the McLow (tuna, avocado, wasabi cream). You’ll also want an order (or seven) of the pork betty -- slices are cooked ‘til tender in a sake-soy mixture and then served with tiny dollops of wasabi cream.
 

Hibino

Cobble Hill and Long Island City
This neighborhood standby is one of few places in NYC doling out Kyoto-style hako sushi, which is made by pressing layers of rice, minty shiso leaves, and fish into a box. The rectangular bites -- showcasing eel, grilled Spanish mackerel, or tuna -- are a must, while Hibino’s signature ultra-creamy tofu is a double-must. Yes, tofu. Get over it.

Thrillist

Bugs

East Village
Don’t worry, there are no actual insects on the menu at this pint-sized gem helmed by Chef Sho Boo. Defying Japanese custom -- which once barred women from making sushi -- the Osaka native mastered the craft at Jewel Bako and Sushi Yasuda before opening her own 15-seat restaurant. Here, the nigiri is punched up with house-made sauces and salts (think fluke slicked with wasabi pesto and snapper topped with plum jam).
 

Sushi Zen

Midtown
It may not boast the same brand name recognition as fellow Midtowners like Sushi Yasuda or Sushi of Gari, but this lesser known fish den certainly deserves some attention. Along with two pristine omakase options, Sushi Zen also dishes out three bluefin tuna specials, a luxe chirashi bowl, and, for thrill-seekers/Homer Simpson, a seasonal fugu (blowfish) sushi.

Flickr/ed

Hasaki

East Village
This standby was around long before the East Village became New York City’s unofficial Japantown. Opened in 1984 by Bon Yagi -- the empire-builder behind Sobaya, Otafuku, and Sake Bar Decibel -- the neighborhood staple continues to rock out with its sashimi out, thanks to high-quality fish and affordable prices. The lunchtime platters are especially good deals.
 

Watawa Sushi

Astoria
Sometimes, those sushi cravings call for regular old boring rolls. But OTHER times, they call for crazy, over-the-top, O, M, G rolls. When you're dealing with the latter, this is the place to get ‘em -- the date night favorite doesn’t skimp on creativity when it comes to its specialty rolls (like the Bumble Bee, with spicy crab meat, cucumber, mango, or the Park Avenue, with tuna, salmon, radish sprouts), but Watawa also knows when to dial down the modernist accents. The sushi and sashimi assortments are refreshingly simple and rely solely on the freshness of the fish.

Flickr/gandhu

Tomoe Sushi

West Village
Despite its no-frills environment, diners queue up daily to get their hands on Tomoe’s delicious rawness. The monster-sized pieces of sushi and sashimi, plus the skillfully assembled hand rolls (the spicy tuna in particular), are well worth the (also sometimes-monster) wait.

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Patty Lee is a reporter and editor who has written for Zagat, Time Out New York, New York Daily News, and Cooking Channel. At all other times: an eater of desserts, aspiring world traveler, and proud Brooklynite. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Kyo Ya 94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

Good news for raw fish lovers -- while this subterranean Japanese restaurant is known for an exquisite kaiseki tasting that requires a strict reservation, the top-notch sushi and sashimi are offered a la carte at any time. The ingredients change frequently, but the quality never wavers (expect the freshest Hokkaido octopus or Tasmanian salmon trout, for example). Pressed sushi is another specialty, featuring firmly-packed rectangles of shiso and ginger-infused rice topped with buttery mackerel or soy-marinated salmon.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Yuba 105 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Helmed by two former Masa chefs, this 36-seat, paper-globe-lit sliver turns ingredients flown in directly from Japan into mouthwatering bites like duck & foie gras steamed buns, caviar-topped tuna tartare, and spicy cod roe pasta.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Sushi Katsuei 210 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (Park Slope)

Bypass the California roll-eating crowds and head straight to the wooden counter, which is presided over by a team of skilled fish slicers at this Park Slope sushi spot. From behind the bar, they dispense nigiri in its most traditional form -- mounds of tart, loosely packed rice, and slivers of fish amped up by a dabble of wasabi or a brush of citrus OR a brush of wasabi and a dabble of citrus. With an omakase that starts at just $45, dinner here is by far one of the best deals in town.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Momo Sushi Shack 43 Bogart St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (Bushwick)

The sushi Bombs at this wood-clad Bushwick hangout are, well, bomb. The hefty seaweed-less orbs come in creative combos that you won't find anywhere else, and you’ll also want an order (or seven) of the Pork Betty -- slices are cooked ‘til tender in a sake-soy mixture and then served with tiny dollops of wasabi cream.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Hibino 333 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Cobble Hill)

This neighborhood standby is one of few places in NYC doling out Kyoto-style hako sushi. The rectangular bites -- showcasing eel, grilled Spanish mackerel, or tuna -- are a must, while Hibino’s signature ultra-creamy tofu is a double-must.

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6. Bugs 504 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

This Japanese eatery serves sushi, sashimi, and tapas like Asian pancakes w/ seafood & wild spinach, and a Berkshire pork filet w/ "gobo chips."

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7. Sushi Zen 108 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036 (Midtown West)

This lesser-known fish den offers two pristine omakase options, plus three bluefin tuna specials, a luxe chirashi bowl, and, for thrill-seekers, a seasonal fugu (blowfish) sushi.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Hasaki 210 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

This no-reservations Japanese restaurant has been around since 1984, when it was opened by Bon Yagi -- the empire-creator behind Sobaya, Otafuku, and Sake Bar Decibel. It was one of the first sushi bars opened in the East Village and remains one of the best to this day. You can order an omakase for around $50, or stick with the consistently high-quality sashimi options. Pro-tip: it's got great lunch specials, making an afternoon trip super enticing for the particularly budget-conscious.

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9. Watawa 33-10 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105 (Astoria)

Sometimes, those sushi cravings call for crazy, over-the-top, O, M, G rolls. This is the place to get ‘em -- the date night favorite doesn’t skimp on creativity when it comes to its specialty rolls , but Watawa also knows when to dial down the modernist accents. The sushi and sashimi assortments are refreshingly simple and rely solely on the freshness of the fish.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Tomoe Sushi 172 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012 (West Village)

Despite its no-frills environment, diners queue up daily to get their hands on Tomoe’s delicious rawness. The monster-sized pieces of sushi and sashimi, plus the skillfully assembled hand rolls (the spicy tuna in particular), are well worth the (also sometimes-monster) wait.

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