New York City, December 2016 – Chef Nakazawa might be the apprentice of world famous Tokyo-based sushi Chef Jiro, but his New York sushi bar is a world away from his mentor’s traditional style. The only resemblance was that both served 20 pieces of sushi during the omakase (chef’s choice dinner), except the duration of dinner (2 hours at Nakazawa versus 30 minutes at Jiro).
If you walk too fast, you may miss Sushi Nakazawa, which has a discrete frontage with a black canopy for an entrance. The décor is minimalistic modern, with touches of dark grey, black and white. It is not easy to score a reservation since the sushi counter only accommodates 10 guests. Chef Nakazawa personally prepared and served each patron, so it is understandable that capacity has to be limited.
After all 10 guests were seated around the counter, the waiters swiftly took the drinks orders. Chef Nakazawa appeared and immediately started to prepare the sushi. The Omakase is priced at US$125++ and consisted of 20 pieces of nigiri sushi – all of premium fish and seafood varieties.
Chef Nakazawa’s meticulously planned menu is based on a variety of fishes and shellfish from North American waters as well as some from Japan…for instance, 3 types of salmon were served – Chum salmon, Hay-smoked salmon and King salmon. The flavors and textures of all three salmon were distinctly different.
While his mentor Jiro-san is famed for his 45-minutes massaged octopus, Nakazawa created this Squid Miso Leaf with Plum Sauce. This is one of the most creative nigiri on his menu.
Other fishes served: Japanese flounder with yuzu, Big eye snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Sayuri, Kuruma Ebi (shrimp), Bonito and Sea eel.
Nakazawa’s “live” scallop is another of the highlights; when he was serving it, he took his time to point it out to each patron.
I must mention the Yellowtail – very inconspicuous at first sight, but one bite says it all – very tender, rich and tasted like Chu-Toro (that’s how good it was!).
The Dungerness crab pressed sushi was another Nakazawa creation. Kind of like a canapé !
There were also 3 types of tuna – akami, Chu-toro (medium fatty Bluefin tuna) and Otoro (Fatty Bluefin tuna) that were served side by side. I always enjoy this ascension in flavors – from the lighter akami to the rich, tender Otoro.
Another one of these side-by-sides was sea urchin (uni) – he served a California uni and then a Japanese uni. The California uni had a sharper taste while the Japanese uni was discrete and creamy.
At the end of the omakase, the waiters swiftly reappeared to enquire if we would like to order something else from the a-la-carte menu. I was stuffed…and declined.
Chef Nakazawa was very humorous (cracked a few jokes with us) so the atmosphere was not stiff. On the evening we dined, a Health Inspector arrived to inspect the restaurant, and she was poking around the sushi bar while the Chef was crafting his sushi. Chef was very polite and apologetic for the interruption. Witnessing an inspection during a sushi meal was a first for both my friend, Ms. L and me.
If you are a sushi-addict or a fan of documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi like me, Sushi Nakazawa is a must-try while in New York City. Nakazawa makes the gourmet sushi experience – a fun one without compromising the quality.
Sushi Nakazawa at 23 Commerce Street New York; T:212.924.2212
Other articles you may enjoy: Mrs. King Dreams of Jiro.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King. My photos usually do not undergo photoshop or enhancements to preserve the actual impression of the objects.