Saito, the Sake Bar from Nakazawa, in Nolita

Saito is so nondescript that you would be surprised to hear that Chef Daisuke Nakazawa of Sushi Nakazawa and Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame is one of the backers behind this project. There are really no signs of him at all, other than the small selection of sushi available on the very edited menu. A chef, not Nakazawa, works quietly behind the tiny bar, and he is not making egg custard. A server with a bit of a harried demeanor takes orders and not much more. It all felt a little rushed and unfinished, as if Nakazawa and his business partners had to scramble quickly to meet an opening date and some of the details got lost. Saito bills itself as a sake bar, but it’s not really obvious that this is their strong suit, as no one is really talking up their sake selections or encouraging you to pair this with that.

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Omakase Room by Maaser

wagyu beef and truffle (very good)

Those of you who know me know that I love a good omakase, especially when it is under $100. While the price points of omakase meals keep creeping north of $300+, I do stumble on new sub $100 places every few months. Omakase Room by Maaser is my latest find, a sushi restaurant in the West Village that was opened by Sushi Seki and Sushi by Bou vets in 2019. The 12 course omakase will run you $95 per person, while 17 courses will run you $135. I would advise you to stick with the $95 option and then order any extra pieces you like a la carte at the end. You can essentially tailor your own 17 course omakase with pieces that you would actually like, which is important, because not everything is created equal here.

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Shiki Omakase in Soho

uni with truffle

I always look forward to a sushi omakase, but the meal doesn’t come cheap. A new sushi bar seems to open in New York City at least every quarter, and the prices keep going up. For instance, the latest entrant to the high-end sushi scene is Yoshino, which prices its omakase at $400 per person. So I was super excited and curious when I passed by the signage for Shiki Omakase, a new sushi restaurant in Soho that offers a $65 omakase. It practically seems like a steal in comparison to so many other places. I had to try it, and the fact that it was byob was even more motivation, so off I went for lunch one day.

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Sushi Ikumi in Soho

It’s been awhile since stumbling upon a neighborhood gem has been a mode of restaurant discovery. But now that the city is reopening, physically walking through neighborhood blocks and finding something interesting that is newly opened is more relevant. Case in point is my recent dinner at Sushi Ikumi, a small sushi restaurant that could not be more nondescript. I walked past the simple dark blue awning multiple times, not knowing a restaurant was there, and the absence of visible letter signage didn’t help, until that one day I happened to pay closer attention and saw diners through the window. I made dinner reservations soon after, and had an excellent chef’s tasting omakase. I went to Nakazawa a month earlier, which was also excellent, but Sushi Ikumi’s omakase surpassed that experience.

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Outdoor Dining at Rule of Thirds in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

There’s something called the rule of thirds in photography that serves as a guide for taking a visually interesting and balanced picture. It’s also the name of a Japanese restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and while I’m not quite clear on why it was named Rule of Thirds, it is very clear to me that this is a visually beautiful restaurant where things like presentation and balance are carefully adhered to.

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