Before touching down in NYC this winter, SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa was already an LA sensation. Famed sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa's popular chain features a straightforward menu that puts the focus on sustainably sourced high quality fish. The Flatiron restaurant which has seen a never ending rush since it's debut is housed in a long wood adorned space with a slightly cavernous feel. Both à la carte and omakase options are offered but the omakase known as the "Trust Me" ($39) that comes with Organic Edamame, Tuna Sashimi, 8 pieces of Sushi, a Toro Hand Roll and Blue Crab Hand Roll is the way to go. With this in mind, we ordered one and the "Nozawa Trust Me" ($51) which includes additional two pieces of the Daily Special sushi.
The edamame and tuna sashimi which commenced the meal were palatable but nothing out of the ordinary. The sushi which followed in ritual servings of two was better. The fish was incredibly fresh and each precision sliced piece sat atop a loosely packed mound of warm vinegary rice. I actually want to take a moment to clear up a common misnomer about sushi because sushi is not raw seafood and is in fact the vinegared rice that is often paired with raw seafood. Raw seafood sliced into thin pieces without the rice is known as sashimi. Okay back to my review... Sugarfish takes their sushi seriously and Chef Nozawa's precise process has been painstakingly replicated at their restaurants to get the combination of rice and rice vinegar just right. Interestingly they use small capacity rice cookers like the ones people use at home which they had to get certified for restaurant use. The entire story is actually quite fascinating and you can read it here. The vinegar taste in the sushi is definitely more pronounced here than at most other sushi restaurants and that along with the warmth of the rice results in a really pleasant combination of texture and flavor with each bite.
Sugarfish is a real model in efficiency. The service was quick and cordial and dishes would roll out continuously as they were made. They also encourage diners to eat them immediately for the optimal experience. This especially applies to their famous hand rolls so that the nori (seaweed) remains crispy and it really makes a difference. Though their own housemade soy sauce is offered, I found that their sushi didn't need it. Sugarfish does deliver on their promise for an easily accessible quality sushi dining experience. It's not mind blowing but certainly quite satisfying.
Sugarfish is open for lunch and dinner daily. They do accomodate food allergies but do not accept reservations and are a full service, no tipping establishment in which the hospitality is built into their prices. The buzz may have died a little with this place but the lines haven't. A friend of mine who went for dinner last week told me that he had an almost 3 hour wait. This is good quality sushi at a reasonable price and while we enjoyed our experience and would return, I certainly wouldn't wait more than a half an hour. For the record, we went at lunch when they just opened and there was no wait.
33 East 22th Street
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