In this city, there are a lot of different kinds of sushi. There’s the type you eat at JFK while you stare at a rainy tarmac, there are omakases that cost as much as a plane ride to Europe, and there’s also pretty much everything in between.
When you’re looking for a casual sushi dinner on a weeknight, these are the spots you want. They’re reasonably priced, and they all serve quality raw fish that will make you feel like the ruler of a vast undersea world. Without the necessity of actually living underwater, where a giant squid would almost definitely eat you.
Kanoyama is an East Village classic with very fresh fish, and it’s your best option for casual sushi in the neighborhood. They serve a bunch of different combos for under $30, and in addition to whatever sushi you’re eating, you should be sure to get the tuna tartare and any of the chef’s specials. Just be aware that this place gets extremely busy - either call ahead for a reservation or grab a seat at the bar.
If you’re looking for sushi that isn’t sell-your-couch expensive in the East Village, Takahachi is another great option. It’s always busy, but the wait is never too long, and you could get away with eating here in your gym clothes. Stop by on a Tuesday night when you want to forget about the fact that it’s a Tuesday, and order a sushi deluxe platter.
Hasaki has been open since the early ’80s, and it’s a little more upscale than Takahachi and Kanoyama. But you can still get a “sushi regular” here with eight pieces and a roll for $30, and there’s a two-person option that comes with an extra roll. The sushi at Hasaki is pretty traditional (so no rainbow rolls or anything with mayo), and you can also get a good omakase for $60. Or you can get two tuna rolls and call it a day. Bring a date or a friend you want to catch up with, and sit at the long bar.
Japonica has been around since the ’70s, which might sound terrifying at first, because whoa, what was sushi in the ’70s in NYC like? But this is actually a quality neighborhood spot that’s always full of Greenwich Village/West Village people. It technically isn’t cheap, but there are ways to get out of here reasonably - they have a well-priced bento box, for example. The whole place is pretty small but extremely efficient.
There’s another Takahachi in Tribeca, and it’s the best place for casual, affordable sushi in the neighborhood (you can get seven pieces of sushi and a roll for $20). Also, it’s only two blocks from the subway, which you should keep in mind for when it’s February and you start to make all of your decisions based on proximity to heated transportation tunnels.
Momoya is the sushi headquarters for all residents of Chelsea high rises. What do they come for? Spicy tuna on crispy rice. The goma-ae spinach with sesame sauce is incredible, too. The space is one of the nicest on this list, and it works well for a date or even a work lunch if your office is nearby. There’s an Upper West Side location, too, and it’s pretty much the same.
Depending on how you order, your meal at Shinsen could range from fancy (an uni tasting and kobe beef handrolls) to typical neighborhood sushi fare (sushi sets with eight pieces and a hand roll). But the space and experience of eating here are both pretty casual. If you need a place near Bowery with a pretty wide selection of fish to try, this is a good choice.
Home of the massive piece of nigiri. You either love Yama’s huge pieces of sushi or find them slightly intimidating, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that this is the go-to spot in Gramercy.
Another temple of massive pieces of fish. This one may have slipped a bit over the years, and the wait outside can be maddening, but it’s a solid bet if you’re in Greenwich Village or Soho. FYI, they only take cash or Amex.
Kazunori specializes in handrolls, and attracting crowds of people who like to eat those handrolls. The blue crab and toro versions are our favorites, and for $13 you can get a four-roll set that includes both of those. On a weeknight, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get a seat at the counter (there aren’t any tables here), but we wouldn’t recommend bringing more than one other person with you. You can always take your food to-go if it’s slammed.
Midtown restaurants tend to be either excessively fancy or not-great and overpriced, but Wokuni is different. It’s a big place a few blocks south of Grand Central, and they serve very fresh fish at reasonable prices. There are a few different sushi and sashimi platters, but you can also order a la carte (and/or get some yakitori). Grab a table or a big booth for lunch or dinner with your boss, your aunt, or whoever else made you come to Midtown.
When you need to eat a yellowtail and scallion roll in the mid-’50s, this is where you go. Nothing about the space or the food is going to rock your world, but you’ll leave satisfied and with money remaining in your checking account.
Go to Tsushima at lunchtime, and you’ll find it full of other people who like decent sushi, but don’t have a corporate card situation where spending $80 on a random Friday is totally cool. The space and food are simple, and prices are very reasonable.
Do you work (or, god forbid, live) near Times Square? If so, you’ll be happy to know about Natsumi. It’s the kind of place where you can get a solid spicy tuna roll, and probably something topped with avocado and various sauces. The dining room is somewhat upscale in a fancy-restaurant-from-the-’90s kind of way, and prices aren’t obscene, especially for the neighborhood.
Upper West Siders swear by Yasaka. The specials are great, and you should go for either the mini omakase (six pieces of sushi topped with interesting sauces and a roll) or the Miyabi (six pieces of traditional sushi, eight pieces of sashimi, and a roll). They also take reservations online.
Ah, the Upper East Side - land of 1,000 terrible sushi places and a few really excellent ones. Matsu is the rare middle ground, where you won’t spend $100 per person, but also won’t eat anything that’ll cause you to avoid sushi for several months. It’s a casual little space decorated with polaroids of previous diners, and there are a bunch of different combos to choose from.
The sushi at Hibino won’t send you into a daydream full of images from Wicked Tuna, but if you live in Long Island City, the location and prices make it worth your time. It’s a block from the 7 and G trains, so it’s a convenient option for a quick dinner or takeout on your way home, and there’s a 15-piece sashimi platter for $21.
Suzume is ideal if you want sushi, but you’re with some other people who don’t. There are some unusual and very good raw fish dishes at this Williamsburg spot - like spicy scallop with avocado, and big eye tuna topped with shoestring potatoes - but for your friend who’s never gone further than a California roll, there are also options like wings, tacos, and bowls of ramen.
Momo Sushi Shack is definitely casual, but gives you more of a “night out” feel than a lot of nondescript neighborhood sushi spots. It’s right next to the Montrose L stop, and once you step inside, you’ll feel like you’re in a little sushi hut in the middle of Bushwick. This place is known for its sushi “bombs” (little spheres of fish, rice, and sauces/toppings), and they also serve cooked meats, fish, and vegetables. Momo makes for a good early-in-the-game date spot in the neighborhood.
The menu here consists entirely of omakases, which range from $25 to $50 (including tip). Most of the sushi is Kyoto-style, or pressed and rectangular, and your omakase will mainly feature one type of fish, with different garnishes on each piece. Since Okozushi is also BYOB, it’s hard to spend a crazy amount of money here - just be aware that the space is tiny, and they don’t take reservations.
Other than the fact that there’s a pot pie on the menu, Bushniwa is a pretty straightforward Japanese restaurant in Bushwick. You’ll find things like dumplings and pork buns, as well as some quality, reasonably priced sushi and sashimi. You can get a sushi combo for less than $30, and there’s also a full bar with cocktails, wine, and sake. So stop by on a weeknight, or bring a friend on a Saturday and split a bottle of wine.
Sushi Katsuei’s excellent $52 omakase is one of the best sushi deals in the city, and we’ve called it the best sushi in Brooklyn. But they also have an extensive a la carte menu, which means you can get in and out with a quality meal for much less. And if you aren’t in Brooklyn, there’s a second location in the West Village.
We like Yashin Sushi because of how relaxed it is, and the fact that there’s a specialty roll named after the song “Rolling In The Deep.” Technically this place is in Park Slope, but you could wave to someone in Gowanus from the dining room. It’s calm enough for a very casual date, or dinner with some kids. Bring them all and debate the official neighborhood borders of Park Slope and Gowanus.
Park Slope has some of the best sushi in Brooklyn (at Katsuei), and it also has a lot of places you can Seamless $3.50 California rolls from when your kids start eating them like Skittles. But when you want to go out for a casual meal that’s in between, JPan is your best bet. Order the sushi and sashimi for one, two, or however many people you have - for $26 per person, you’ll get 10 pieces of high-quality sashimi, five different types of nigiri, and an eight-piece chef’s choice roll.
If you just want to pick up some sushi and eat it on your couch while you watch whatever show your coworkers are currently arguing about, go to Silver Rice. It’s a counter-service place that serves a bunch of different rolls, as well as some sushi bowls and snack-sized cups of rice and raw fish. Each of this place’s two locations (one’s in Crown Heights and one’s in Prospect Lefferts Gardens) has some seating, but they’re both better for takeout.