CK has been talking about Sushi Yasuda from the moment I met him. After more than a few attempts, Pdho and I were finally able to find time (and a reservation) to eat there. I was actually surprised to find out it was located in Midtown near Grand Central station, very close to where I used to work. I’m not sure why, but I expected it to be a small little place in West Village or something. Unlike most Japanese sushi places, Sushi Yasuda has a rather spacious interior but not surprisingly, they don’t really make use of all that room. In addition to the 14 seat sushi bar, there are probably an additional 10 tables where they could probably fit 14. Not that I’m complaining too loudly, because thankfully, I didn’t feel cramped in a small confined space. They take a simple, minimalist approach to style and presentation, but I guess unlike other cuisines, Japanese sushi restaurants aren’t really equipped for high volume and quick turnover, so a restaurant can only accommodate how ever much the sushi chefs can manually produce. The reality is sushi preparation takes a lot more manual labor than stir-frying.
We opted for omakase and let the chef give us whatever was good…. and boy, was all of it tasty. I think the real way of eating sushi and particularly at Sushi Yasuda is to eat it with your fingers. In fact, they even have a little side tray with a mini wet nap for people to wipe their fingers after popping the nigiri into their mouth.
All the sushi tasted very good, very fresh. There were common ones like salmon and yellowtail which tasted familiarly delicious, but there were some less common types of sushi like shima aji and Artic Char (which I think is a type of salmon) which were just as delicious and unlike what I would find at other sushi places.
The difficult part about writing and taking pictures of sushi is everything kind of looks the same and to a certain extent tastes the same, so it becomes hugely challenging to describe the sushi with any sort of true detail to distinguish one piece from the next. That is not meant to take away from how delicious or unique the fish may taste even from the best of sushi restaurants. It is just so hard to describe, because at the end of the day, it’s raw fish…. and it’s just hard to describe.
That being said, the one thing that was truly, truly special and probably the best I’ve ever had was the eel. We had two different types of eel, anago and sawani, and both of them were so delicious that we went and ordered a second round. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the difference between the two, but I think it might have had something to do with one being freshwater versus sea water, but I can’t recall. However, I do remember the anago being baked so it was hot with a slight crisp on top. The sawani sushi, on the other hand, had a slightly sweeter taste and a texture that reminded me of a slightly moister version of a white fish. It was the best thing we had that day, and unarguably a type of sushi that I have never found anywhere else and I doubt I ever will.
Although the sushi pieces were generally smaller than average, I did find that the rice was uniquely delicious. It was freshly cooked, so it tasted a little warm and had a nice mix of vinegar, salt and who knows what else.
Although the meal was pretty pricey, I have to say it was pretty delicious. All the sushi was above average and some, most notably the eel was the best I have ever had. I’m finally glad I was able to check it out, and maybe someday I’ll be back and will have saved enough for another meal.
204 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017
PAFO Ratings for Sushi Yasuda:
Price 4 stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars