BEST OF THE BEST: Sushi in the USA
What was once Japanese fast food has made its way to haute cuisine, and there are restaurants out there that strive for sushi perfection—if you’re willing to pay dearly. Say, for example, you’ve just won the lottery, or are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and have lots of disposable income. If this is you, or if you’re a dreamer like me, read on my friends…
Remember how I said you’d have to pay dearly?? Well, Masa just so happens to be the most expensive restaurant in all of New York City, and for that matter the entire country. Meals are omakase, or chef’s choice only, and cost around $600 per person. Expect a variety of edible artwork in sushi form, made with the finest (if not ecologically sustainable) ingredients in the world. Although Sam Sifton downgraded the restaurants from its 4 to 3-star rating in a recent New York Times piece, it is still the place to be for sushi in the Big Apple.
10 Columbus Circle,
Time Warner Center, 4/F
New York, NY 10019
Masa’s slightly less expensive counterpart in LA, Urasawa, uses traditional ideas, but the there is always a twist, often involving edible gold or ice sculptures. Only a few diners are served each night, allowing for a truly personal experience. Like Masa, it is omakase only, and the chef has close to 50 tiny courses in store for you. Think of the $450 price tag as covering dinner and the night’s entertainment, as you will probably be there for well over three hours. While you’re there, chat with the friendly chefs, or the Hollywood celebrity on your right.
218 N Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Also in Los Angeles, Sushi Zo is much more affordable at around $160 a head. Unlike Masa and Urasawa, Sushi Zo takes a more traditional approach and scraps the unnecessary luxury. When you get your bill at the end of the 26-course omakase, you are paying for the food. Located in an austere strip mall, the mostly Japanese clientele dining in an average setting are there for the freshest ngiri, sashimi, and hand rolls West of the Mississippi, and arguably the world.
9824 National Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Technically, Sushi Kaji is in Canada, but this Toronto gem is too good to be overlooked. Master chef Mitsuhiro Kaji believes in traditional, seasonal ingredients, most of which are flown in from Japan. In fact, all the fish he serves in his restaurant have arrived from Tokyo that morning, and nothing is ever stored overnight. Using a variety of skills he learned while training across Japan, Kaji crafts each dish to work harmoniously within itself, as well as together with the rest of the courses of the omakase. Best of all, it’s a relative bargain at $120 per person! So, if you’re ever visiting our neighbors to the north, stop by this place for a truly authentic experience.
860 The Queensway
Etobicoke, Ontario M8Z 1N7
A little more accessible to Tufts students, at least as far as location is concerned, this Boston landmark serves some of the nation’s most creative izakaya, or Japanese tapas. Although much of the menu consists of non-sushi dishes, I felt it necessary to include O Ya on this list, anyway. If innovation is what you seek, look no further! Ngiri, sashimi, and other small plates feature exotic Japanese ingredients, while highlighting local ones, too, such as lobster. But, come prepared to spend $120 per person, if you dare. Think of it like this: Tufts costs 57K a year, but for 0.2% of that price you could have the night of your life. Do college degrees melt in your mouth? Didn’t think so.
9 East Street
Boston, MA 02111
– Gabriel Spieler