New York’s obsession with sushi is well-known, and it shows from the large number of great sushi restaurants in the city. I’ve always been impressed with the dedication and craftsmanship of top sushi chefs who have spent decades honing their arts of sushi-making. If someone had previously asked me, though, what the best sushi place is, I wouldn’t have probably come up with a single answer. I loved the fresh quality of fish at Tanoshi, the intimate feel of Kura and the modern technique at Gari. Other places like Nakazawa and Ushiwakamaru certainly deserve to be in the conversation. Until now: I’m ready to call Ichimura, tucked inside David Bouley’s Japanese establishment Brushstroke, the best sushi place in NYC. I know it’s a bold statement (and the hefty $195 per person price tag certainly doesn’t help), but I’m ready to stand by my declaration.
Ichimura is sort of a stand-alone operation separate from the larger Brushstroke. There is a single counter seating 9 people at most, and chef Eiji Ichimura is running the entire show himself without a single sous chef or assistant. Even before the nigiri pieces started coming, I felt very good about what the entire experience would be like, starting with excellent zensai (traditional Japanese appetizer plates) consisting of toro, uni, herring and other several cold bites. Then came the marvelous sashimi consisting of Bluefin tuna, amberjack, striped jack, abalone and scallop. I don’t think I’ve ever had better sashimi plate in my lifetime, not to mention throughout my culinary journey in NYC. The incredible freshness of each piece was just so sensational, and the addition of fine wasabi that chef Ichimura grinds before the dinner starts only enhanced the texture. The awesome sashimi plate was followed by the chawanmushi with black truffle that was elegantly aromatic.
The nigiris that followed were some of the best I’ve ever had too. Chef Ichimura uses the freshest fish out there, and the rice has the ideal level of firmness to go along with the fish very well. I was very impressed with the texture of pieces like golden snapper, ocean trout and ocean perch. Chef Ichimura’s edo-mae style, using techniques developed before refrigeration came into place to preserve the freshness of fish through salt and vinegar, was spot on in the flavor department as well. The two mackerel pieces that I had were some of the best I’ve remembered having eaten before, and the silky smooth texture of shrimp was absolutely magnificent, as was the elegantly delightful toro (fatty tuna).
There was no single piece that was average or bad; how chef Ichimura keeps the high level of nigiri consistently across the board (by my count, he had served 18 pieces) without a single slip is what really makes his sushi bar stand out above the rest in the city. After the delightful dessert consisting of soy sauce gelato and matcha ice cream, I finally woke up from the dreamy state I was in from pure bliss at the counter. Just what an unbelievable meal it was!
Word has come out that Ichimura is one of the best sushi places in the city, and it doesn’t help secure reservations when you have a single counter serving only two shifts a night at 6 and 9 p.m. Just call as much as possible in advance and hope for the best. You won’t regret the experience at Ichimura despite the price tag. There is a full bar from Brushstroke’s drinks menu and you would do well to complement your meal with a glass of wine or sake. The whole experience was further enhanced from the intimate feel to the space, detached from the louder crowd at Brushstroke. I’m so grateful that a sushi-ya like Ichimura exists in this city. If anyone asks me going forward what the single best sushi restaurant in NYC is, this is it. Without a double.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 9.5/10
- Ingredients: 9.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 9.5/10
Address: 30 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013
Telephone: (212) 791-3771