Last year, after release of the acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, we were inspired to branch out from our regular sushi delivery order of maki rolls and miso soup and try one of the more traditional and better-quality sushi restaurants around the city. We didn’t get around to doing that in a timely manner but luckily for us, time worked in our favor, as earlier this year, one of Jiro’s apprentices, Daisuke Nakazawa, moved to New York and opened his own restaurant, Sushi Nakazawa.
After The New York Times awarded Nakazawa four-stars—their highest possible rating—we scurried to make a reservation, knowing that doing so in the coming months would prove nearly impossible.
Our reservation finally arrived this past week, so we walked over to the West Village and were treated to two hours of Nakazawa’s skill and showmanship.
At the sushi bar, you are served 20 different pieces of sushi, each prepared differently and served with incredible care and attention to detail.
The dinner opened with a piece of king salmon from Hokkaido, Japan, bright and flavorful under just a squeeze of yuzu and a pinch of Japanese sea salt. Throughout the meal, Nakazawa introduces each piece of fish, explaining its preparation, its English name, and even using his iPad as a visual aid.
He is also tremendously funny and amiable, cracking jokes about the “dancing live scallop” we were served and showing off the live, energetic mantis shrimp before he tears its head off and in turns it into a piece of sushi.
We both loved the six-day pickled mackerel, a unique preparation of a fish that is divisive in our household, and the house-cured salmon roe (ikura). Nakazawa is also a fan of the blowtorch, giving a few pieces a quick sear, slightly warming the fish and charring the rice’s exterior. His rice was the best sushi rice we have had by far—warm, sticky without being gummy, and a perfect contrast to the cool slices of fish.
Since dining with Nakazawa, we’ve even attempted our own delivery sushi upgrades, adding a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt to our salmon. It’s not quite the same as Sushi Nakazawa, but until we return, it will have to do.
– Laura and Ryan