Whether you’re expensing a dinner with clients from out of town, treating yourself on a Friday afternoon, or just want to eat seafood from somewhere that’s not the Red Lobster in Times Square, going out for sushi is one of Midtown’s best dining options. And while there are some hole-in-the-wall spots, some very serious zen sushi temples, and even a few places hidden under office buildings, the reality is that most are basically just “good Midtown sushi places.” But reading about that would probably be a little boring, so we’re placing them on a Hollywood actor and actress scale. Read on to find out what makes the Kerry Washington or Owen Wilson of a Midtown sushi place. Or in other words, to find out where you should be eating sushi in Midtown.
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Sushi Yasuda is the George Clooney of Midtown sushi restaurants. He’s attractive in a way that no one is going to argue over, and when you say, “Name a famous Midtown sushi place,” people will say “Umm... Yasuda?” in the same way that when you say, “Name a famous actor,” people will say “Umm… George Clooney?” In both categories, there are newer, younger competitors as well as extremely worthy contemporaries, but when it comes to name recognition and overall quality, you can’t beat Yasuda. For the full experience, sit at the bar, order the omakase, and expect to pay well into the triple digits.
Hatsuhana is the Kerry Washington of Midtown Sushi. It means means business, but can still be a good time, and you can bet it’s going to wear a great dress to the Emmys. Use Hatsuhana for any near-Bryant Park business meeting, and order the “Box Of Dreams,” which involves a bunch of different preparations of sashimi and will also just make your meal sound exciting.
With two locations, Sushiden is a nice, high-quality sushi spot that’s traditional, but not stuffy. It’s on the fancier and pricier side, but it’s not intimidating or pretentious. Think of it as the Helen Mirren of sushi places - people of all ages will appreciate it, but older people in business suits will especially.
Small and serious about its craft, you’ll appreciate Kurumazushi if you’re very intense about your sushi - the Marion Cotillard of Midtown sushi. Yes, she got nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, but if you bring the wrong person, they might walk in and say, “Uhhh, this movie is in French?“. Expect to pay a lot here - the sushi plates start at $100 and the omakase is $300, though there are some under-$50 lunch specials. This is expert territory.
Jennifer Lopez is really a singer, but she’s been in a couple of movies. One of them was Gigli, and another was The Wedding Planner, which doesn’t say much, but everyone still loves J.Lo. That’s Ootoya - not an expert in sushi, but one of those does-it-all places that manages to pull most things Japanese off pretty well. It’s lively, and a good choice if some members of the group want sushi, while others want cooked food.
Sushi Ann is the Maggie Smith of Midtown sushi. Traditional and fairly old school, but also accessible. There are a few sushi specials here in the $30-$40 range, which is notable among the high end spots.
Right across the street from Yasuda, Sakagura is hidden underneath an office building, the lobby of which you actually need to enter to get inside. If Yasuda is George Clooney, Sakagura is… Sia. In other words, not similar at all. Sakagura actually isn’t a sushi place at all - it’s really a sake bar/izakaya, but we’re including it here because if you’ve made your way to the East 40s and realized you aren’t quite ready to drop $250 on dinner, Sakagura is going to show you a good time. There are several sashimi platters, as well as raw fish rice bowls and onigiri rice balls that may satisfy a similar craving. Like Sia, it’s fun, hidden, and if you drink enough sake here, you might end up swinging from a chandelier.
Sushi You blasts Japanese music videos over the bar and offers a pretty great $60 omakase. Sometimes pieces take a while to come, and some of the sauces are a bit sweet, but when you want creativity, quality, and fun in one place, this small under-the-radar spot is where you want to be. It’s the James Franco of the Midtown sushi situation - you’ll be simultaneously all-in and wondering exactly what’s going on.
Sushi Of Gari has a few locations, and is best known for its omakase that features things like tuna topped with tofu sauce or a piece of fish topped with a quail egg and truffle oil. In other words, it’s here to make things a little funkier than usual, but you’re still definitely going to pay top dollar to cast it in your movie. Think of Gari as Owen Wilson. Know that this definitely isn’t the best Gari location (we prefer the Upper West or the original Upper East Side locations) but it’s still a good bet for Midtown.
Sushi Seki Hell's Kitchen
If Gari is Owen Wilson, Sushi Seki is Luke Wilson - the younger brother. Different in some respects, but interchangeable at times. You’ll eat inventive pieces of sushi here, some of which are quite similar to those at Gari. This is Seki’s third location, and it’s slicker and newer than Gari’s nearby outpost. It has a few different spaces - a sushi bar, tatami rooms, and a cocktail bar.
Sushiya is the Victor Garber of Midtown. Who’s Victor Garber? Google it. Yep, that guy. You’ve seen him in a bunch of stuff, and sure, he’s good, but you don’t remember his name until you get some context. When you need to eat a yellowtail and scallion roll in the mid-50s, this is where you come.
Natsumi is a random actor on NCIS. If you don’t watch, you’re not going to have any idea, but if you do, you once stalked this random actor on Instagram. If you work near Times Square, you’ll be happy to know about Natsumi for a spicy tuna roll or assorted nice-looking rainbow roll-type items. The space is somewhat upscale-feeling in the sense that it does actually have some level of decor, and prices are pretty reasonable.
Sushi Damo is Midtown sushi’s Brendan Fraser. Is it anyone’s favorite place? No, and if The Mummy is anyone’s favorite movie, we need to have a talk about that. This is a nice and sleek, but not fancy spot where you can get some special rolls wrapped in avocado and topped with caviar and wasabi mayo and the like. Use it if you need a meal near Columbus Circle.
You wanted to cast Jennifer Lawrence but the budgets weren’t high enough? Cast Emily Van Camp (you know, the one from Revenge). You’re going out for lunch with your boss and really want to hit Hatsuhana, but know his or her meals/entertainment budget isn’t that high? Hit Tshushima instead. It’s not the same, at all, but it’s affordable and tasty and will get the job done when you’re eating near Bryant Park.
Located in a hotel lobby and part of a semi-corporate chain, Blue Ribbon Sushi’s Columbus Circle location is the Matt LeBlanc of Midtown sushi. A tiny bit cheesy but also a little bit cool, you know you’re going to have a fun time and some tasty food. In addition to sushi, they also serve Blue Ribbon’s famous fried chicken.
Straightforward and very friendly, Shimizu is the Michael Cera of Midtown sushi. Probably never going to win an Oscar (though you never know!), but will star in a charming movie you’ll watch on airplane. Use this as a reasonably-priced option in Midtown West.