There are many ways to eat sushi in New York City. If you want to get a three-roll lunch special delivered to your office in Midtown, you can do that. If you want to buy a shrimp tempura roll in a plastic container at a Duane Reade, you can do that too. (We wouldn’t recommend it, but you can legally purchase such a thing.) And of course, you can also spend hundreds of dollars eating an omakase meal at one of the city’s best sushi bars.
But what if you want to try a top-quality omakase without spending more than you would on a new TV? You can do that too, if you know where to look. All the places on this list serve excellent chef’s choice sushi for under $100 a head. They range from an Upper West Side spot serving hard-to-find fish to a little restaurant in Prospect Lefferts Gardens where the omakase options start at just $35.
We can’t think of any other restaurant experience we’ve had that combines sparklers in eel-toro hand rolls, torched white tuna topped with chili garlic crisp, and the level of drunken fun you find at Sushi On Me in Jackson Heights. There’s room for up to eight around the omakase counter with four nightly seatings, each of which last around an hour starting at 5pm. For $89 (cash only), you’ll get 15 pieces of nigiri, a couple of appetizers, and unlimited sake. You can also visit the newer, pricier location in Williamsburg, but we prefer the original.
Matsunori on the Lower East Side stands out because of its reasonable pricing and casual feel. For $78, you’ll get 12 pieces of high-quality and decently-varied fish, plus an appetizer, a hand roll, and homemade mochi for dessert. Past fish highlights have included soft-then-crunchy needlefish and a crispy piece of eel with a tiny square of melted foie gras on top. Bring a date to one of their five nightly seatings, and make sure to stop at September Wine & Spirits nearby for wine or sake. This place is currently BYOB.
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If you walk into a frozen yogurt shop and immediately dump rainbow sprinkles into your cup until the person who has to clean the floors starts giving you dirty looks, Sushi Kai might be your ideal restaurant. Pieces at this East Village spot come with jellies, oils, sauces, truffle, caviar, and even pesto. But despite all that window dressing, you can still tell that every piece of fish is high quality. For $85, you get a seasonal appetizer, 10 pieces of nigiri, uni and ikura over rice, and a hand roll.
The Best Sushi In NYC
When anyone asks us where they can eat incredible, creative sushi for under $100, we wish we could pick them up like a Monopoly house and place them outside of Sushi Katsuei in the West Village. Sit at the bar here, and you’ll wonder why there aren’t more places that serve raw fish this good for this price. Omakase options start at $65 for nine pieces and a handroll, and they often include unusual pieces like firefly squid or barracuda. Sushi Katsuei also has a location in Park Slope, where the omakase starts at $57.
At Sushi Kaito, you’ll see the daily fish selections laid out like jewelry in little wooden boxes behind the bar. And you will inevitably find yourself sitting at the bar—because that’s the only option. This is a tiny place on the Upper West Side with just 15 bar seats, and they offer a 13-course omakase for $98. For the money, it’s one of the best sushi experiences you can get in NYC. Expect things like Japanese uni, otoro, and a fish or two that you’ve never heard of.
Uotora in Prospect Heights is an interesting cross between a neighborhood place and a somewhat high-end sushi spot. The staff is friendly, the space is small, bright, and minimally decorated, and there are some sushi and sashimi platters that aren’t outrageously expensive. But, at the same time, you can sit at the bar and eat a serious $85 omakase. You’ll get things like uni and toro, along with an interesting selection of whatever fish they have in stock. If king salmon is on the menu, ask for it to be dressed with dashi.
Omakase By Masser is a tiny West Village spot on Bleecker Street with some of the most special fish you can get in a tiny white box. The space has 14 seats around a counter, and there are two options for omakase. The first is $95 for 12 pieces, and the second is $135 for 17 pieces. Expect things like medium-fatty tuna with pickled wasabi and some really lemony baby yellowtail. For the price and the interesting fish, Maaser is worth checking out with a date. Just know that we’ve experienced some slow and inconsistent transitions between seatings.
Sugarfish’s “Trust Me” is the most predictable sushi omakase experience on this list. While other places may give you ocean trout one time and baby shrimp the next, Sugarfish tells you exactly what you’re going to get. It varies a bit based on which size you order ($43-$72 at dinner, $37-$72 at lunch), but you know you’re likely looking at some tuna sashimi in ponzu sauce, followed by salmon sushi and a blue crab handroll. With 10 locations and counting in the LA area, Sugarfish is a kind of mini empire in California, and there are now four locations in NYC.
At Sushi W on the Upper West Side, you get exactly one hour to eat one of the most affordable omakase options in NYC. The cheapest meal is $54 (or $38 at lunch), and there’s also a $68 omakase that comes with 15 pieces and two handrolls. Highlights include the torched sablefish and silky unagi, but the best piece is the chutoro sprinkled with salt. There’s very little time for conversation, so Sushi W is a great place for solo dining.
Genki is in a bare-bones Greenwich Village space with pastel green walls and a muzak soundtrack. It isn’t the most atmospheric place, but the 13-course $68 omakase is surprisingly high-quality. The pieces are large and heavily seasoned, and we especially like the fatty kanpachi, buttery shima aji, and wagyu with uni. Just keep in mind that the chefs here are very serious about getting you in and out in 60 minutes. If you want to supplement your omakase with “Fun List” creations like salmon and toro with tomato and quail egg, you’ll have to be quick.
No matter what sort of night you’re looking to have, Sushi Lin has options. You can keep things relatively tame with a $35 mini omakase, or you can order a $120 omakase with three appetizers, a sashimi plate, nine pieces of nigiri, a handroll, and dessert. We suggest something in between. For $70, you’ll get a handroll along with 10 pieces of nigiri like salmon topped with sautéed tomato. The little room in Flatbush feels like a secret (although there’s now a Soho location), and you can sit at a table and order à la carte if you don’t need a multi-course buffet of fish.
If you just walk by and peek in the window, Sushi 456 just looks like a somewhat nicer version of your average casual sushi spot. It’s a tiny space with a small counter up front and a few tables to the side, and the soundtrack consists of smooth jazz. But most casual sushi don’t serve pieces of nigiri that are as perfect and precise as what you’ll find here. The king salmon is buttery, the scallop is fruity and floral, and even the leanest tuna melts in your mouth. You can get 10 courses for $70 or 15 for $100. Either way, remember to bring your own booze.
There must be some sort of tax incentive that encourages sushi businesses to open in the East Village. There’s no other way to explain the huge number of omakase spots in the neighborhood, most of which are relatively new. Thirteen Water is one such place, and it sets itself apart with a creative array of toppings that actually enhance the nigiri, rather than mask the flavor. For $75, you can sit at a casual U-shaped counter and eat 13 pieces that might include scallop with finger lime, barracuda with yuzu kosho, or hamachi topped with ribbons of shishito pepper.