204 East 43rd Street
Update: Sushi Chef Naomichi Yasuda has since left his namesake sushi restaurant and returned to Japan.
The much raved about Sushi Yasuda is quite elusive. The epitome of non-descript - with no street number, no signage, merely the pale green walls and the faint Sushi Yasuda logo as indicators. Moreover, there appeared to be some sort of construction work happening just outside which only added to the confusion of it all.
I happened to be at Grand Central, and decided to try my luck just before lunch. (Note: I took this picture only because the front of house at Sushi Yasuda are dressed impeccably in black and look like they should belong to the Yakuza. I am of course well versed with what members of the Yakuza look like, having played Grand Theft Auto 3 with my brother when I was younger)
I got there about 20 minutes to 12pm, and it was fairly empty. I was told that they were fully booked for lunch. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in this area, and I knew I wouldn’t be back in this area any time soon so I told them I could be really quick.
They were kind enough to oblige and led me to the sushi bar, seating me in front of the sushi chef second from the right. This shot was taken as I was leaving. Sushi Yasuda prides itself on providing a one-on-one sushi dining experience. You have your very own sushi chef to cater to your every whim and fancy.
Now, imagine this. When I walked in, there was no one seated at the counter. All 6 sushi chefs, dressed in chef whites, were standing in a row, watching me as I came in. I sat down, and no one moved. They were all almost standing at attention. I glanced through the menu quickly and decided to pick a dish that would be quick to prepare.
The sushi chef directly in front of me came to life (I had selected the Chirashi).
Chirashi Ume - Sashimi on a bed of rice ($18.5)
After presenting me with this beautiful bowl of vibrant and gorgeous sashimi, the sushi chef resumed his silent stance. Quite aware that three to four out of the six pairs of eyes were still watching me intently, I picked up my chopsticks and tried to eat this as delicately as I possibly could.
The picture speaks for itself. Look at the gorgeous glistening salmon sashimi and the colour intensity of the red tuna sashimi. No sooner had I taken my first bite, than the lovely head chef Naomichi Yasuda was kind enough to provide me with some guidance: I should break up the sashimi pieces and mix it altogether to get a good combination of the fish and the rice.
My immediate thought was - how in the world was I going to do this delicately and neatly, given the bowl was quite full and I was armed with a mere set of wooden chopsticks. Not wanting to offend, as gracefully as I could, I slowly attempted to destroy this beautiful work of art. I was struggling not to giggle at the hilarity of the situation. After I had given it a good attempt and taken another few mouthfuls, Yasuda-san enquired how I was finding the Chirashi. “It’s very good!” I answered truthfully, trying to work out how I would eat this quickly and daintily, while holding a conversation without seeming rude, and continue to steadily avoid eye contact with the other sushi chefs.
Thankfully, the business crowd began to mill in and I was left to my own devices while they began prepping for the other patrons.
The fresh sashimi were lightly flavoured with soy sauce, and the sweet and fluffy tamago (egg) added another dimension to the delicious chirashi.
Tempura prawns with Green Tea Salt
The prawns were coated in a very light and crunchy batter, with a beautiful accompaniment of green tea salt. Very faint green tea flavours.
I noticed a family had sat down on my right, and they had opted for the omakase which Yasuda-san was cheerfully going about preparing.
The omakase would definitely be something to try, if we were going by the simple yet stunning presentation and gorgeous quality of the sashimi in the chirashi.
- popcornandtoast posted this