Tadashi Yoshida, one of Japan’s most respected sushi masters and owner of Nagoya’s now-shuttered Sushi No Yoshino, will open Yoshino at 342 Bowery in Noho on September 23.
This highly anticipated debut, which has been in the works for three years and was delayed because of the pandemic, serves as one of the most important sushi openings in New York to date, and the first time ever that a sushi master has closed his introduction-only counter in Japan to launch in the Big Apple. The 10-seat, 20-course omakase sushi experience is priced at $400 per customer.
“In New York, I am competing on the world stage,” says Yoshida, who passed on opportunities to relocate his sushiya to Tokyo. He wanted to “seize the opportunity” to show his skills on, what he believes, is a more global platform with a bigger audience. And much like the snug, nine-seat sushi counter he once operated, here in New York — where he has partnered with art collector and managing partner Alberto Fis as well as Andrew Gyokudari — he’ll have a 700-square-foot stage in what formerly was a Subway shop. The serene space is now outfitted with earthy moss green plaster walls, a coffered wood ceiling, and a silky 20-foot dining counter made from a single piece of 300-year-old hinoki (the other half of this tree resides in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace). The aesthetic mixes traditional Japanese design with a contemporary feel — a similar reflection of Yoshida’s Edomae omakase with subtle French influences.
Having grown up in a culinary family — Yoshida’s father owned a sushi counter in the Gifu Prefecture named Sushi No Yoshino — a career in food seemed like a natural path. But, in fact, baseball was Yoshida’s first love. It wasn’t until high school, when his dreams of being a professional baseball player were dashed that he began to consider sushi. Before taking over his father’s sushi bar in 1995 (which he eventually relocated to Nagoya), Yoshida worked at French restaurant J’ai Faim in Yokahama, and this experience continues to shape the food he serves today. As Sushi No Yoshino garnered critical acclaim, Yoshida eventually charged $300 for the omakase experience, where it was one of Japan’s most coveted, introduction-only sushi counters.
Yoshida emphasizes that for those who have dined with him in Nagoya, Yoshino in New York will offer the exact same experience: It’s a special occasion meal rooted in traditional Japanese sushi philosophy, though embellished with Western thought and luxury ingredients.
Diners can expect a meal to commence with six tsunami accented with white truffles and caviar, plus Western ingredients that are atypical in sushi meals, like olive oil and heavy cream. For Yoshino’s debut, Yoshida is considering some mushroom courses — such as matsutakes and white truffles — to celebrate the fall season.
Unlike his unique approach to small appetizer courses, Yoshida’s sushi portion of the omakase is wholly Japanese, with around 10 Edomae-style nigiri bites, followed by a hand roll, tamago, miso soup, and dessert.
Sushi enthusiasts know the importance of rice during a meal, and Yoshida seasons his shari with a mix of three vinegars, and errs on the side of more acid as opposed to sweetness. For fish, roughly 80 percent of his seafood comes from Japan. Domestically, he’s procuring abalone from Hawaii, scallops from Massachusetts, and some of his tuna (20 percent will come from Boston and the rest from Japan).
And for diners who secure reservations during Yoshino’s early days, Yoshida has a special fish lined up. From Toyosu’s tuna auction, he has purchased the top rated tuna in all of Japan from that auction day: Oma blue fin tuna from Oma in the Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan. He typically ages his tuna anywhere from 10 to 14 days depending on the size and various cuts of the fish. Yoshida also uses an unsung aging technique to boost umami in his fish by placing pieces in vacuum bags and aging the cuts in ice water for two to three weeks.
While Yoshida’s menu will change often based on market availability, he does plan to serve a number of bites for which he has become known. That includes pressed sabazushi (mackerel) that Yoshida torches with a hand-held grill containing binchotan charcoal so that the top of the fish get charred. And the second is a rarely-found maguro bite. Yoshida cuts a specific part of the tuna, known as chiaigishi, that’s buttery, but contains an irony-flavor, which is a reason many sushi chefs do not serve it. He then uses a technique called kuragake and cuts the fish so that the tuna resembles a horse saddle, and drapes it over the rice.
While the chef has long given up baseball, it’s clear that Yoshida is looking to hit a home run here in New York. Yoshida recognizes how strong New York’s high-end omakase sushi scene has become over the last decade, and for that precise reason he believes now is the perfect time to open here — at a time when New Yorkers really understand and appreciate the art of sushi like never before.
It’s important to note that despite incredible efforts here in New York by chefs that hail from legendary Tokyo sushi counters, like Daisuke Nakazawa who worked under Jiro Ono at Jiro, and Shion Uino who worked under Takashi Saito at Sushi Saito, Yoshida marks the very first New York sushi counter from an actual sushi master, not a protégé.
When Yoshida turned 50 two years ago, he decided that he had to pursue the next step in his career even though he was at his peak. From 2017 to 2018, Sushi No Yoshino was one of only four sushi spots in all of Japan that earned back-to-back gold awards from the country’s most prestigious restaurant ranking site, Tablelog. All that considered, when Yoshida met Fis through a mutual friend and regular diner, the opportunity to move to New York presented itself. Yoshida jumped at the opportunity and within two weeks he had closed Sushi No Yoshino with the intent to relocate to New York.
Yoshino is open Monday through Saturday, with seatings offered at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.