Being the sushi lover that I am, I had to check out Sushi Yasuda, a popular restaurant near Grand Central Station. Known for their simplicity, fresh fish, and no-tipping policy, I had to make reservations about two weeks in advance.
The reviews about how fresh the fish is were spot on. The master sushi chefs select the fish by hand, evaluating each one for its size, freshness, and “energy”, and then precisely control the fish’s aging process, and this careful consideration shines through in each piece.
I tried a variety of sashimi and sushi, each one selected by the chef. The fish was extremely fresh and had an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. The chef also put the perfect accompaniment (soy, salt, lemon, ponzu, etc) on the sushi so I could just pick it up and eat it. One thing that sets Sushi Yasuda apart from some of the other sushi restaurants is the perfection of the rice. The chefs use a mixture of Japanese rice and mix it with vinegar, salt, sugar, and sometimes wasabi to give it the perfect flavor to combine with the fish.
The restaurant has a very simple and clean feel to it. The lighting is bright, which is meant to provide a clear visual of the sushi you are enjoying. There is no music in the restaurant, so the space is quieter and calmer than some other New York restaurants. Solid planks of bamboo make up most of the surfaces, which gives it a calming feel.
We ate at the sushi bar, which I would highly recommend. Interacting with the chef is very helpful in that you can let him know which flavors and fish you preferred. Because of the no-tipping policy, I was curious as to what level of service I would get, but I was very happy. Everyone was kind, attentive, and helpful.