Pete Wells is wildly unimpressed by the offerings at Sugarfish and the LA import’s attempt at offering affordable sushi. That’s saying something: In a city occupied by pricey sushi menus and expensive omakase, Sugarfish’s four tasting menus — all priced under $60 — seem like a fine alternative to expense-account dinners that cost more than a MacBook.
Sugarfish is not the answer Wells argues. Here are some of the reasons he gives the restaurant zero stars:
The fish is uniformly soft and pretty, but none of it tastes much like fish. Sweet shrimp and sea scallops were both exactly as they should be. But there was no heft to the tuna, no depth to the salmon, and anybody who happens to like shiny-skinned, fishy-tasting species like mackerel or sardines is in the wrong restaurant.
The menu and website make much of Mr. Nozawa’s connections among elite fishmongers, but the selection at Sugarfish rarely rises above entry level. The menu lists certain specials “when available.” Sea urchin is one; the last time I went, there wasn’t any. This has to be the only sushi restaurant in New York that can’t get its hands on sea urchin.
Fresh wasabi may be too much to ask at Sugarfish’s prices, but there is no wasabi at all under the fish. This is weird. Where sushi is concerned, wasabi isn’t just a condiment. It’s the air in the tires. Sugarfish lets you apply your own from some concentric bloops of stuff that tastes like watery horseradish and looks like a green version of the poop emoji, without the smile.
In his meals at Sugarfish, Wells failed to find anything that made the restaurant stand out. “By the end of my third meal, I was desperate for some break in the monotony,” he writes. “If Mr. Nozawa had suddenly materialized to yell at me, I would have given him flowers.” Restaurant reviews both positive and negative can make or break a restaurant. Will the lines at Sugarfish persist after Wells’ goose egg?