Five-star resorts are overly expensive because they come with things like private beach access and full-body mud masks that claim to make you look 15 years younger in 45 minutes. And Eagles club seats will set you back more than ones closer to the field because they have that heated inside area where you can take shelter during the last few games of the season. But sometimes you don’t need all the extras, and for those situations, there’s Sakana: a toned-down version of a high-end sushi place with an excellent omakase at a fraction of the cost.
Sakana is a casual BYOB in Queen Village with a 12-seat counter and a couple of tables for overflow. There’s a host upfront who manages the seating situation, and two or three sushi chefs using their iPhones to control the whatever-they-feel-like playlist, which might start with a single spa-like flute playing you to sleep and end with a Spotify mix that’s probably called “LSD Vibes That Your Mom Will Still Like.” But despite feeling more like a laid-back test kitchen than an actual restaurant, the sushi here is similar to what you’d expect from a place where you have to know someone to get a reservation and close your eyes while you sign the check.
The only choice you’ll have to make at Sakana is whether to do their signature omakase, which is 12 pieces for $58, the 10-piece sashimi omakase for $58, or the $108 sakana omakase, which comes with 21 pieces and some of the gold-flake, caviar-filled extras you might see at a special occasion spot. But unless you’re super hungry or trying to impress a friend who quotes Jiro Dreams Of Sushi in casual conversation, the signature omakase is the way to go.
The 12 pieces of fish vary from standards like hamachi and mackerel that might come with miso or wasabi, to more unique things like firefly squid with a drop of green pepper salsa and uni with seared foie gras. Throughout the meal, the chef checks in with you to ask what you like and what you’re not a fan of, in case uni reminds you of a wet dish sponge. And while the meal may seem like it’s over after your last piece arrives, you should order an ice cream sandwiches before you leave. They have two on the menu, one with green tea ice cream and another with vanilla and pieces of fruit, and they’re both sandwiched between buns that taste like cake cones. It’s a simple, three-bite dessert that will have you wondering why you don’t carry them around in a refrigerated backpack to eat after every meal.
Unless you opt for the sakana omakase, your spot at the counter only lasts 45 minutes, which means your meal might be bookended by appetizers and dessert at a separate table. It disrupts the flow a bit, and even though they’ll usually make it up to you with an extra piece of sushi if you’re stuck waiting for an especially long time, it can bring the entire experience down a notch. So if it’s a seamless and uninterrupted anniversary dinner you’re looking for, complete with bottle service and heated hand towels between each course, you should probably head down the street to Royal Sushi. But if you just want to meet a friend for a casual dinner that consists of some pre-purchased sake and high-quality fish, there’s no better option than Sakana.
The best option is the always changing 12-piece signature omakase. Here are a few examples of what it might include.
Oyster With Yuzu Foam
Saba With Green Pepper Jelly
This has to be ordered in addition to the omakase. Get it if it’s available.