High-quality sushi and secret backyard gardens don’t often overlap in this city. So you can imagine our anticipation when we heard about this pandemic-era restaurant on the Upper West Side via a highly enthusiastic reader email. Now that we've been, we can confidently say a trip here (at least for sushi-people and garden-people and sushi-garden-people) is worth every bit of that emailed enthusiasm.
Sushi Nonaka operates out of the bottom floor of Korean restaurant Boka (the owners of the two businesses are married), and there’s almost no signage. So you won’t know you’re at the correct restaurant from the outside until you go in and start asking the host if you’re in the right place. They’ll take you downstairs, past a chic sushi bar, and out to a back garden that looks like an Architectural Digest cover story.
When it comes to ordering, we recommend the $89 sushi omakase that comes with 10 pieces, a hand roll of your choice, and miso soup. (Heads up: if you’re sitting in the garden, they’ll bring out a platter of sushi instead of serving you piece-by-piece). Between the striped jack dabbed with sweet smoky yuzu sauce and the ombre-pink chutoro that disintegrates on your tongue, Sushi Nonaka is the kind of restaurant that will ruin your regular old sushi spot.
While we were eating here, we saw our table neighbor gulp down a piece of sweet, almost creamy botan ebi sushi, and say, “I’m sorry but I can’t go back to cheap sushi anymore.” Unfortunately for all of our wallets, she’s right. The selection of fish changes depending on what they get shipped in that day, but some of our favorite pieces were the lightly seared sea bass, striped jack with smoky yuzu sauce, and flaky, sweet unagi.
If you want to eat here for around $50, you can opt for the 8-piece sushi set, or a 12-piece sashimi set. They also serve a couple of appetizers to supplement your meal, including savory and cold cucumber salad topped with sesame oil and flaky sea salt. We still maintain this is a place to go big and try an omakase - especially considering many other restaurants with fish this high quality serve omakase meals in the $150 range.