What is New York’s best sushi restaurant? The debate usually comes down to Sushi Yasuda and Kurumazushi. An eGullet thread comparing the two is six years old, and still running, without a clear consensus. I had a terrific omakase at Yasuda two years ago, but I was still itching to try Kuruma on the right occasion. A friend of mine who loves sushi had just celebrated a birthday, so I thought the time had come.
The fish here is obviously very good, but the overall experience wasn’t as enjoyable as Yasuda. I will probably return to Yasuda at some point, but I can’t imagine going back to Kurumazushi, unless someone else is paying.
I didn’t bring a camera or take notes, but our meal was quite similar to those many others have written about. We loved the fatty tuna, served in ample portions—how could you not?—and a few other things. Other courses started tasting the same after a while. If the fish here was better than Yasuda, it was too subtle for my friend and me to perceive. The Yasuda omakase actually seemed to have more variety.
Then, there is the small matter of price. Except it’s not so small a matter. I was prepared for the omakase to cost somewhere around $150–200 a head. We weren’t shown a menu or asked about our budget, so I just figured it would be in that general range. Silly me. The bill arrived, and it was $1,005 for two. Back out the sales tax and subtract the sake ($150), and it appears we were charged $387 apiece for the food. That sake, by the way, wasn’t a splurge either, by this restaurant’s standards. I believe I saw only one bottle less than the $150 I spent.
A thousand bucks is awful lot to charge somebody without giving any kind of notice of what you’re in for. As best I can recall, it’s the most I have ever paid for a meal for two. Even on a straight-up basis, I think I liked Yasuda a little more. When you consider that the bill for one at Yasuda was just $107 two years ago, it’s not hard to decide which is better.
I do a lot of research before choosing a restaurant—especially when I’m visiting for an occasion. My research obviously wasn’t good enough this time. Since I posted on this meal at eGullet, a few folks have mentioned that, indeed, if you say “omakase” and nothing more, two people are liable to spend a thousand bucks, or something thereabouts. I simply had no idea that this was their default offering. I cannot be the first person to have gone home feeling cheated.
The restaurant is on the second floor of an office building. The interior is spare and not especially luxurious. I like Yasuda’s blonde wood better. Service was attentive, as it damned well ought to have been, but nothing more that I would expect at sushi places charging a quarter of the price.
Kurumazushi (7 E. 47th Street between Fifth & Madison Avenues, East Midtown)