New Yorkers have been devouring sushi since the 1960s when one New York Times writer called the dish a fleeting trend. Today, that so-called trend has evolved. Making up almost one-fifth of New York’s Michelin-star establishments, Japanese restaurants are now pillars of the city’s world-famous dining scene. Here are the best Japanese restaurants in New York City.
Don’t judge a ramen spot by its size; this small slurp shop is home to a huge talent. Credited in his home country of Japan as one of just four ‘Ramen Gods,’ chef Shigetoshi Nakamura has joined forces with another ramen great, Sun Noodle, to deliver rave-worthy ramen to American eaters. At Nakamura, vegan truffle miso, tontoro pork and more ramen varieties are enjoyed with abandon.
When scouring the city for the best Japanese restaurants, the uptown area of Harlem may not immediately spring to mind. With locations in West Harlem and Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Jin Ramen is about to change that. Serving the richest of Japan’s “top three styles of ramen,” Hakata, Jin boasts offerings outside of what you’ll find at a standard slurp shop. Green coconut Thai curry, kimchi and adobo-braised pork belly are just a sampling of the spot’s out-there ramen options.
Run, don’t walk, to Mu Ramen, a Long Island City spot hailed for its signature – and limited – namesake dish. Foodies fall in line for the highly coveted Mu Ramen bowl, which features an oxtail-and-bone-marrow-based broth, tender brisket and sour pickle. Missed today’s Mu? The always-packed spot’s foie-gras-stuffed chicken wings, ‘crack’ kimchi and uni with spicy maguro will more than make it up to you.
This pocket-size sushi spot serves everything from Western-influenced omakase to decadent sushi to the city’s best selection of Japanese whiskeys and single malts. Indulgent diners are sure to savor Neta’s creamy uni porridge, toro and caviar sushi, and foie gras and sea urchin custard.
Shuko is not your average sushi restaurant. The omakase-only menu created by Masa Columbus Circle alums Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau involves up to 27 courses, including as many as 18 sushi pieces. Shuko’s sushi kaiseki experience, which comes with the option of adding wine, sake and spirit pairings, is priced at $195, while featured ingredients such as toro caviar and pickled persimmon taste priceless.
At the 21-year-old Sushi of Gari, every bite is crafted. The Upper East Side mainstay (today, Gari boasts six concepts across New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles) dresses each sushi piece with the perfect amount of sauce and toppings, including escargot herb butter, prosciutto and white truffle oil.
For a romantic night out, dine at Zenkichi. A meal at this “modern Japanese brasserie” is the borough’s ultimate aphrodisiac, thanks to its covered private booths and excellent service. Dishes like sweet duck salad and dark chocolate pudding with roasted walnuts beg to be shared.
Impress a sushi connoisseur by bringing them to 15 East. The Michelin-rated restaurant takes its sushi seriously, crafting bites with its signature slow-poached octopus and uni and tuna flights. Casual sushi lovers looking for spicy mayo or JB tempura rolls will be disappointed here, though the upscale eatery’s popular omakase is a great option.
Sushi Seki has amassed a devoted following of New York City’s most revered chefs, including Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud. An extensive wine list and late closing time (2:30am) set Seki apart immediately, but it’s the masterful sushi and sashimi, such as Snow Crab California rolls and raw mirugai, that make this eatery worth trying.
Providing top-rated cuisine in a casual environment, Sobaya offers many dishes to choose from. Its menu includes 28 soba varieties as well as classic Japanese dishes, such as donburi. In fact, simpler bowls featuring nori and fried bean curd shine particularly bright here.