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The Early Word on Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village

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Sushi Nakazawa opened its 10-seat sushi bar last month, and the reservation book filled up almost immediately. Many of the diners that managed to land seats across the bar from former Jiro Ono apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa have reported back on their omakase experiences, and the news is almost unanimously excellent. Diners praise everything from the freshness of the fish, to the impeccable technique, to Nakazawa's warm personality. Here's what they have to say:

The Good News: One Yelp reviewer calls Nakazawa the best in the city: "I've been to my fair share of sushi restaurants and have done many omakase meals...This place is definitely above the rest of the sushi restaurants I've been to in the city. Every piece of sushi is expertly prepared, from the temperature of the fish, the way the fish is stored in the refrigerator, the nori that he uses, the amount of soy sauce he puts on each fish, the fresh wasabi, the rice. Everything is thought out so well; every piece of sushi is perfectly balanced. Chef Nakazawa is friendly, the service is attentive and composed and the seats super comfortable. Although expensive, I thought this was worth every penny spent." [Yelp]

The Informed News: From a Chowhounder who knows their sushi: "I would say this place is in the top tier. Its very different in style than Ichimura and 15 East. The rice is slightly sharper and slightly less sweet than 15 East or Yasuda. I prefer the rice at 15 East. Live scallops that were still quivering was excellent and loved his Ikura, more soy and konbu flavor than most places. I could have sworn he switched up two different temps for the rice for various fish preps. Santa Barbara uni was served, but I prefer Hokkaido uni. The tamago was good but not my type of tamago, it was very sweet and dense like an egg custard. I prefer the castella or dashimaki style tamagos." [CH]

The Unique News: A few highlights from another reviewer on Chowhound: "The mantis shrimp was spectacular — soft and yielding and perfectly paired with same sauce that Nakazawa-san uses for his anago...And, oh, yes, that tamagoyaki famous from the documentary is amazing. He clearly takes pride in his various preparations — he made some interesting comments about how even an ostensibly traditional sushi chef uses subtle differences in preps to create individuality when, after all, there are only so many different kinds of fish in the sea. He seemed to relish highlighting for each piece whether it had been aged a week, or dusted with yuzu pepper, or dabbed with Japanese mustard..." And on Chef Nakazawa himself: "He smiles and laughs and genuinely seems to be having fun behind the counter...He just seems like a nice, open guy who happens to be a top-flight sushi chef...One might've feared that there'd be some kind of cynical feel about the place, as if it were just exploiting the popularity of the Jiro documentary, but I didn't sense that at all." [CH]

The Contender News: One Chowhounder thought there were a few kinks to still work out, but mostly loved the food itself: "Sardine (from Oregon) was definitely the overall favorite from the meal (and one of my favorites ever) with pieces like King Salmon, Scallop, Sweet Shrimp, and various pieces of toro also top notch. Actually, I had one of, if not, the best toro hand roll I've ever had. A lot of the shellfish was cracked open right at that counter — full fish broken down and sliced right in front of you, which I think added something to the overall experience. You were able to choose your sea urchin (somewhat gimmicky) but an ode to the quality and freshness of the ingredients...All in all though, it was a great meal, and if a few of the rough edges can be worked out, this could be a contender for one of the top spots in the city." [CH]

The Beautiful News: On Han + Diana Eats, blogger Han files a glowing review with plenty of photos. The king salmon is "buttery," the Maine scallop " smooth and succulent," the "kissed by ginger" Japanese jack mackerel is "deliciously oily and flavorful," and the sea kelp-marinated fluke "an unexpected stunner." The sake pairings, meanwhile, are "near perfect, with the exception of one that was good, but did nothing to enhance its portion of the meal." The only downer: "We were disappointed to be the only patrons at our seating to be served exclusively by the assistant sushi chef (all other eight patrons received service from Nakazawa), and while sharing cuts of fish may result in similar results, I do believe the assembly of nigiri by chef does vary — amount of wasabi, sauce, formation of rice, etc., and some of our pieces did feel heavy-handed with wasabi, but the meal in its entirety is undeniably spectacular." [Han + Diana Eats!]

The Detailed News: One Chowhound user describes the entire omakase procession: "There is no appetizer or amuse-bouche except for the homemade picked ginger – we dive in with Chef Nakazawa and begin with some Pacific salmon with sea salt and California citrus. The procession continues with hand smoked Alaskan salmon (smoky and flavorful), Maine scallop (he shows us the shell and then opens it in front of us), geoduck (lightly seared), abalone, jack mackerel, kohada (aka gizzard shad – one of my favorites of the evening), trigger fish, sword fish, Spanish mackerel, baby cuttlefish, live mantis shrimp (succulent and unique), blue fin tuna (aged for five days), chutoro (I preferred this to the otoro), otoro, octopus, ikura (house seasoned), and anago...The nigiri had a good balance of rice to fish, and they were prepared expertly. Some pieces were seared, others were brushed with different vinegars, juices, oils, sauces, and various concoctions, many of them were enhanced with zests, sea salt, ginger, daikon, Japanese mustard, and wasabi." But after all that, there was one disappointment: "Last night they didn't have sea urchin (uni) ...for an omakase that cost $175/pp in NYC, not have any uni during the meal is inexcusable." [Chowhound]

The Friendly News: This Yelper finds one way in which Nakazawa may be even better than his mentor, Jiro: "Nakazawa-san has delivered a pretty compelling sushi experience without the need for a trip to Tokyo?Nakazawa-san's demeanor is quite friendly, a stark contrast from the stoic Jiro. He'll talk with you, ask you what you like, dislike, and generally joke around, which in my opinion, goes a long way in making you feel comfortable and at home. There's really not much more to be said other than that it was a superb experience, and I can't wait to be back!" [Yelp]

The Traditional News: Yelper Kenneth appreciates Nakazawa's simple approach: "Hands down the best sushi I have ever tasted in my life. Unless you have a ticket to Tokyo and a reservation at Jiro's, this will most likely be the best traditional edomae nigiri sushi you will ever experience?Everything was simply but elegantly and perfectly prepared. Nakazawa-san, like a traditional sushi chef should, does not strive to do anything too fancy or ridiculous. Instead, the shokunin relies on unparalleled technique and simple ingredients to complement and really augment the unique flavor and texture of each fish, so that at the end of the day it is the fish that shines through as the hero of the dish. In other words, don't look for anything unconventional here...this would probably be the antithesis of a night at Sushi of Gari. Yes, the ingredients were more traditional and simple; however, each nigiri piece still managed to overwhelm your taste buds with an explosion of flavor. The secret is all in the details: the knife work and cut on the fish, the varying and optimal temperatures at which each piece was served, the ratio of sushi meshi (i.e.) rice) to meat, etc." [Yelp]
· All Coverage of Sushi Nakazawa [~ENY~]

Sushi Nakazawa

23 Commerce Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 924-2212 Visit Website

Sushi Nakazawa

23 Commerce St., New York, NY

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