There are a plethora of sushi restaurants in New York City, almost too many to choose from. For those who are seeking an authentic sushi experience, Sushiden, a restaurant that hails straight from Japan, with two locations in Midtown, will give you a proper introduction.
Sushiden started in downtown Tokyo more than 60 years ago. Since then, it has opened over 30 locations around northern Japan and in Osaka. The restaurant prides itself on serving everything the way it’s done in Japan, from high-quality fish to a proprietary recipe for rice that’s perfectly balanced between sweet, savory, and tangy.
The staff and sushi chefs are recruited from all over Japan, and undergo a minimum of five years’ training. They are required to perfectly execute Sushiden’s recipes before being dispatched to different Sushiden locations.
The New York locations, established almost 30 years ago, serve Sushiden’s signature take on Edomae, or Tokyo-style, sushi. The dish first emerged in Tokyo during the Edo period, when the newly built city had access to fresh seafood from Tokyo Bay. Raw fish on top of small mounds of rice made for a quick meal eaten at street stalls.
This type of sushi, called nigiri, is hand-formed by the sushi chef. The rice is cooked with a brand of vinegar that Sushiden has chosen specifically to bring out the taste of the rice. Lightly sweet and tart, firm but chewy, the rice acts as a flavorful and textural contrast to the fish.
A Sushi Feast
Each fish has a different character. Tuna has a creamy, luscious texture, similar to fatty cuts of meat. Fluke is soft and delicate, while horse mackerel is strong. It gets a light, vinegary taste from its seasoning, offsetting some of the intensity of the fish’s natural flavor.
Botan ebi, a species of shrimp, is unbelievably sweet, like honey on the tongue, while sockeye salmon has an intensely rich, oceanic taste. Anago, saltwater eel, is simmered and brushed with a sweet sauce that further enhances the eel’s innate umami.
Most of the fish and shellfish are shipped from Japan, so diners can experience the real deal. If you’re with a large group, you can reserve a private tatami room, furnished with traditional mats and low tables. The restaurant’s serene environs and attentive service by staff dressed in kimono will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Japan.
The menu has non-sushi items as well, equally delectable. The tempura has a light batter that seals in the flavors of the item, from pumpkin to scallop ($28). A slate of appetizers, like simmered daikon radish and hijiki seaweed salad (both $6), highlight the interplay of savory and sweet that is central to Japanese cooking, and will get your taste buds anticipating the feast of seafood ahead.
Wines and beers, as well as an extensive selection of sake, are available.
19 E. 49th St. (between Madison & Fifth avenues)
Monday to Friday
11:45 a.m.–2:15 p.m.
Sunday to Friday
5:30 p.m.–10 p.m.
Closed on Saturday
Sushiden 6th Avenue
123 W. 49th St. (between Sixth & Seventh avenues)
11:45 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m.–10 p.m.
Closed on Sunday