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Eat and Drink

Omakase on a budget: Finding affordable chef’s-choice sushi in NYC

Omakase has typically been the territory of expense-account diners, but several new sushi restaurants are opening up the meal to all budgets.

A Japanese phrase that is understood to mean “I’ll leave it up to you” or “trust the chef,” omakase is akin to a sushi tasting menu, featuring a chef’s choice of the best, freshest fish available. At upscale, celebrated spots such as Sushi Yasuda and 15 East, you can spend upwards of $150 to experience authentic omakase. But thanks to a few recent openings, New Yorkers can now enjoy a tasting menu for as little as $27.

On a budget? Here’s a look at some of New York City’s newest, most affordable omakase.

Sushi on Jones

Sushi on Jones
Photo Credit: Sushi on Jones

New York’s first outdoor sushi bar, this Bowery Market kiosk is modeled after the sushi counters found in Japanese subway stations. Up to six diners at a time have 30 minutes to enjoy 12 pieces of freshly prepared sushi, all for just $58 (the price, before owner Derek Feldman eliminated tipping this week, had been $50). Meals progress from scallop and crab to hamachi, uni and eel and even include two pieces of Wagyu beef. Come August, Sushi on Jones will open a slightly larger (10 seats) indoor location in the West Village to accommodate even more fans. 348 Bowery, 917-270-1815, thebowerymarket.com

Sugarfish

Sugarfish offers three "Trust Me" menus.
Photo Credit: Noah Fecks

Led by celebrated chef Kazunori Nozawa, this Los Angeles import is focused on purity. Nozawa starts each day with a trip to the fish market, then serves his selections over warm, loosely packed rice with homemade soy sauce and ponzu. Guests can choose from three “Trust Me” menus, with the cheapest costing just $27 for organic edamame and six pieces of sushi and going up to $51 for 15 pieces for dinner — with even cheaper options for lunch. You can also supplement your omakase with a la carte sashimi, hand rolls and specials like toro sushi. 33 E. 20th St., 347-705-8100, sugarfishsushi.com

Sushi Katsuei

Sushi Katsuei's salmon roe
Photo Credit: FoodNYC

A Park Slope favorite, Sushi Katsuei opened a second location in the West Village in March, drawing new diners with its traditional, Edomae-style sushi, which emphasizes the flavor of the fish. Here, $57 gets you a toro-scallion hand roll and nine pieces of nigiri, ranging from fatty tuna and salmon roe to ocean trout and yari squid. 357 Sixth Ave., 212-462-0039, sushikatsuei.com

Sushi by Bou

The omakase experience builds up to a strong
Photo Credit: Sushi by Bou

After helping launch Sushi on Jones, chef David Bouhadana left to open his own, similar concept. Now, at outposts in Gansevoort Market and the Sanctuary Hotel, he also serves a $50, 12-course omakase, which guests have just 30 minutes to consume. In addition to fish like akami and salmon, diners can look forward to pieces of Wagyu beef topped with uni. Gansevoort Market, 353 W. 14th St., 917-870-1587; Sanctuary Hotel, 132 W. 47th St., 917-348-5737, sushibybou.com

Sushi Ishikawa

Sushi Ishikawa chef Don Pham
Photo Credit: Sushi Ishikawa

At former O Ya executive chef Don Pham’s month-old, omakase-only restaurant, guests can pay $85 for 12 courses, which change constantly but focus on Japanese fish like hairy crab from Hokkaido and uni from Kyushu. Also included are more involved dishes, like black abalone with mushroom soup, and octopus with green tea salt. (A 15-course menu is also available for $125.) Closed Sunday-Monday; 419 E. 74th St., 212-651-7292, ishikawanyc.com

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