Although the sushi is of very high-quality at Ushiwakamaru, the real attraction for most is the reasonably-priced omakase. There are perhaps only 20 or so truly first-rate sushi restaurants in the city, and the opportunity to experience one at a reasonable price point, in an attractive setting, is an irresistible allure.
The preparation of the sushi at Ushiwakamaru is traditional, as is the attire (servers are clad in yukatas). Many of the offerings are unconventional (sea snail, parrotfish) and difficult to find elsewhere. Although Ushiwakamaru's output can at times be uneven, its best pieces (meltingly rich fatty tuna, sea eel) are commensurate in quality with many of the higher-ranked restaurants on our list.
The subterranean dining room is relatively plain, though certainly not as austere as Neta's, and its abundant use of rich woods creates a sense of warmth and sophistication. Regrettably, the reservationists and servers can be severe at times. But Ushiwakamaru has a strong case to being the best option for everyday sushi in the city.
136 Houston St.
New York (nr. Sullivan St.)
- Hideo Kuribara, Chef