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Masa Vets Are Opening a Playful Sushi Hand Roll Restaurant in the West Village

West Village’s newest Japanese restaurant serves hand rolls in a casual setting

The empty interior of a restaurant with stools lined up against bars for eating Sebastian Lucrecio [Official]

Three seasoned Masa vets are opening their own Japanese restaurant in the West Village this week — but it’s a much more casual affair than the extremely high-end sushi destination where they used to work.

When Nami Nori opens Wednesday at 33 Carmine Street, diners will find a laidback, beach-themed seafood restaurant serving varied versions of temaki, hand rolls stuffed with fresh fish and vegetables. To push the casual beach vibe further, owners Taka Sakaeda, Jihan Lee, and Lisa Limb do away with the cone-shaped hand roll and instead serve it in taco format — the ingredients are held in a nori shell that’s open on top, acting as the taco’s “tortilla.”

“The three of us worked at Masa together, and we would often talk about different ideas and concepts,” says Limb, who’s director of operations. “We all felt it would be interesting to do something that would be more inclusive, coming from a high-end background.”

A taco-shaped hand roll topped with rice and salmon, served with a side of ginger Sebastian Lucrecio/Nami Nori

Focusing on temakis helps cut down labor costs, since the assembly itself is quite simple, allowing the team to invest more on high-quality ingredients, says the team, which created the temakis as a collaboration.

Sakaeda, the executive chef who spent over 10 years working under chef Masa Takayama, says he’s trying to approach the menu with the same level of technique while offering a more accessible price point. (Masa’s omakase, at $595 per person, is famously the most expensive dinner in the city.)

The hand rolls are tiny and come in several flavor combinations: A tuna poke one comes with crispy shallots and chile sea bass with daikon, mint, and chogochujang, while another temaki is filled with salmon, tomato, onion cream, and chives, inspired by the lox and cream cheese Sakaeda ate growing up as a kid in Long Island.

Each temaki is priced between $5 and $7, though ones with speciality ingredients like uni and truffle cost more. Diners can add caviar to any order for an additional $10. The kitchen will also dish out a few snacks, which the team describes as “fun, casual, easy-to-eat finger food.” (Think shishito peppers served with smoked miso honey and nori chips with a yogurt chive dip.)

Everything’s meant to be paired with a drink, which will include sake, beer, and wine, as well as Japanese teas and sodas. On tap, there’ll be sake from Brooklyn Kura, wine from the Finger Lakes and North Fork regions, and local craft beers, while nonalcoholic options will include different teas, matcha lattes, and Japanese sodas. See a full menu below.

Nami Nori opens Wednesday, October 2, in a 1,000-square-foot space with 40 seats. The restaurant will have the following hours: Monday through Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.

Nami Nori

33 Carmine Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (646) 998-4588 Visit Website