The 9 Best Hand Roll Bars In NYC
When you want your sushi to be served like an ice cream cone.
Cake pops, corn dogs, hot pockets—handheld foods are by far the most fun, and that includes sushi. You might know hand rolls (temaki) as the cone or taco-shaped rolls that you get at the end of an omakase dinner. If you’d prefer to eat all of your raw fish and rice like an ice cream cone, you can do so at one of NYC’s hand roll-only restaurants. You’ll find a variety of options on this list from a twelve-course tasting menu to a walk-up counter where you can order à la carte.
This Korean spot from the Kochi team serves a $135 12-course tasting, the bulk of which is dedicated to U-shaped hand rolls filled with marinated meat or fish topped with accessories like pickled daikon. Unlike some hand roll places you may have been to before, Mari incorporates Korean sauces and spices into every two-bite roll. There are a couple tables in the back, but you should sit at the big rectangular counter in the middle of the restaurant.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
If you’re used to some of the more theatrical sushi around NYC, the simple, to-the-point hand rolls at Douska might appear to be wearing their birthday suits. But that won’t matter once you experience the way the fresh yellowtail, a few rogue scallions, and warm vinegary rice come together at this 12-seat sushi spot on the LES. You can go with a hand roll set or order a la carte if you have your heart set on eating mackerel and monkfish liver.
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If you’re not looking to throw down $495 at the highly-rated Sushi Noz, you can get the same high-quality fish and kombu-flavored rice wrapped up in a hand roll at Noz Market next door. Noz Market is a walk-in, standing-only temaki bar that serves rolls that range from $8-$25 for a la carte options like anchovy and grilled salmon pate, with sets available. (There’s also another pricey omakase counter in the back room.) Casually dropping in for a couple high-end hand rolls here feels like adding a scoop of caviar on top of your day.
Daigo Hand Roll Bar
Daigo isn't trying to be "inventive" or creative, and we find that kind of refreshing. The focus at this tiny counter in the Dekalb Market is on quality fish, really good rice, and crispy nori. Unlike some other hand roll spots, you order à la carte here rather than commit to a full omakase situation. You can also order everything on the menu as a rice cup—but rolls are really the move here. Eat them quickly, so the nori stays super crispy.
Temakase believes their fresh, hot rice and crispy nori combination should be eaten within 30 seconds, and they’ve made it very easy to do so at their East Village hand roll bar. The spacious dining room only has counter seating, where you’ll choose from sets of 3-6 hand rolls to be delivered to you piece by piece at your own eating pace by someone in an Hawaiian shirt. There’s plenty of room to guarantee you a spot whether you want to pop in for a quick 30-minute solo meal or linger for rounds of sake from their vaguely tropical themed bar. They also have a second location in Williamsburg.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
If all you want is good, quick sushi for under $40, Nami Nori will scratch that itch. As a rule of thumb, the least complicated hand rolls are the best things here, with a couple exceptions like the x.o. scallop and lobster tempura. The wood-and-white-brick West Village space looks exactly like the kind of bright, minimalist apartment that mostly just exists on social media, and there’s another location in Williamsburg.
photo credit: Frank Oudeman
Most of the handroll bars on this list do their best work when they keep things simple, but the best rolls at Domodomo are the more complex ones. Kombucha puree and mustard seeds add an extra burst of flavor to the miso black cod, and we love the touch of tomato mayo on the salmon. The sleek, light wood look and luxe details (we love a hot hand towel) make Domodomo feel a little fancy, though not quite nice enough for a special occasion. Instead, come through for a date night or celebration that calls for a small time splurge, like spending the extra $5 to top your unagi with foie gras.
photo credit: Maki Kosaka
Maki Kosaka in Flatiron is the casual offshoot of a fancy omakase spot called Kosaka on West 13th, which means you can expect quality fish at lower prices They have two types of hand rolls here: temaki and “grab sushi,” which are pieces of beautifully constructed nigiri that you scoop up with crisp Saga nori sheets. Have your next date night here. The big wrap-around sushi bar has enough space to give you some privacy, and there’s a lush plant shop in the front that feels like their unofficial front porch.
photo credit: Kate Previte
KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar
We’ve got to give Kazu Nori a mention, as they are “The Original Hand Roll Bar," even going as far as trademarking the claim as part of their name. The relaxed younger sibling of LA import Sugarfish is also still one of the best. Each roll is handed to you freshly made, one at a time, and they’re designed to be eaten immediately for maximum seaweed-crispness. It’s a good deal, and it’s also fast: everyone sits along a bar and you’ll probably be out in under 40 minutes.