Through his restaurants, Eiji Ichimura, the 70 year-old sushi chef, has helped educate New Yorkers on what to expect from an edomae omakase experience when he opened his first namesake under-the-radar restaurant on Second Avenue in Midtown that closed in 2008. It was followed by David Bouley’s acclaimed Brushstroke, and later, two-Michelin-starred Ichimura at Uchū, among others.
Now, with the help of Rahul Saito and Kuma Hospitality Group behind Tribeca’s one-Michelin-starred modern French l’Abeille, the swankiest of Ichimura’s restaurants opens Tuesday, June 20. Sushi Ichimura, a 10-seat Tribeca slip at 412 Greenwich Street, near Laight Street, displays an East-meets-West aesthetic shaped by Ichimura and Brazilian designer, Marta Carvalho. The space is going for warmth as well as “Tribeca’s old warehouse feeling,” says Saito, with details like a 200-year-old wood-slab bar; a 400-year-old gold leaf-covered screen from the 16th century depicting ancient text, the Tale of Genji; and high-end plate ware, some 150-year-old antiques, with others made by Shiro Tsujimura, one of Japan’s most prominent ceramic artists.
The sushi master who helped fine-tune the Stateside practice of aging fish for modern diners has crafted a menu that includes fish from Hokkaido and elsewhere around Japan, along with wares from suppliers at the Toyosu Market, with many items unavailable in the United States.
The high-dollar, luxe 20-course omakase — listed on Resy at $850 for two before tip — starts with seasonal appetizers such as his mochi rice cracker filled with Hokkaido Bafun uni and Kaviari caviar, followed by over 12 courses of aged nigiri sushi and temaki, as well as otoro. Dessert might be ice jelly made with fruits and vegetables along with Japanese-style tea desserts.
Ichimura started in New York well before omakase counters have been vying for space in the restaurant landscape, with high-dollar dazzlers like Noz 17, 69 Leonard, and Ginza Onodera among them. “It’s a crowded space,” says Saito, who points out, “among great sushi chefs in New York, everyone’s doing something slightly different.”
And while Ichimura has been a fixture in New York’s restaurant scene, it was a little over a decade ago that New York Times critic Pete Wells wrote about Ichimura at Brushstroke, suggesting that his work led us to challenge the commonly held belief that “the finest sushi is the freshest,” in describing how Ichimura cured fish in salt or vinegar. He also noted that Ichimura’s method for seasoning rice “may ruin other sushi for you.”
Sushi Ichimura is open Tuesday through Saturday with seatings at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m.