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The Gatekeepers: "Ika"

This is The Gatekeepers, a photo series Eater has commissioned from Michael Harlan Turkell. Herein, we're pleased to introduce you to the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.


Sumile Sushi (née Sumile) is a hotspot in transition. Perhaps. During its first run, prime tables were hard to come by and waits topped out at over 60 minutes. But that was 2003, this is now. Josh DeChellis' West Village Japanese restaurant has cooled and, though you may not get a seat at the new sushi bar, walk-ins are rarely asked to wait long. The concept tweak to sushi is doing the venue right and the crowds are starting to come back. So, as a precaution, say hello to Ika.

Ika:It's a quaint comfortable spot, recommended for 2-4 tops, but we can do up to 14. Ever since we changed to the surname Sushi in mid December ('06), there has been quite an influx of parties and new patrons.

When Miwa (Yoshida, co-owner of Sumile and singer of the band Dreams Come True) stops by it's a media frenzy. We try not to seat her fans too close to her. They ask for autographs, even amid her bodyguards. I've even seen grown woman cry in her presence. She's like the Madonna of Japan.

Beginning of the week, there are lots of industry folk. Jean Georges mentioned Josh DeChellis as one of his favorite young chefs.

We're open Tues - Sat, 11PM Fri and Sat, 1030PM the rest of the week. Some reservations, mostly walk-ins, usually in and around 8PM, but people are becoming savvy to the 530PM-7PM happy hour. By coming in early, this almost assures you a seat at the bar (which is now coveted) as you can drink and eat a full meal. You can actually make reservations at the sushi bar, which might change soon as more and more people linger the whole night and there's little turnover.

Browse previous Gatekeepers.