Seafood With a View

The Sea Grill offers refined seafood in an elegant setting
March 10, 2014 Updated: March 7, 2014

A dining spot for movers and shakers, The Sea Grill has been part of Rockefeller Center’s landscape for the last 30 years. Casual elegance and refined seafood of the highest quality make for an unforgettable experience.

The design is crisp and elegant while warm and comforting.

As you look through the glass door and the windows, you will be immersed in the sights and sounds of this magically thrilling setting. In the winter, you can watch skaters glide over the ice skating rink or couples proposing on the ice. In the summer, the skating area converts to an outdoor extension of the restaurant for guests to dine under the sun and the stars.

At the kitchen’s helm is executive chef Yuhi Fujinaga, who has extensive experience in working at renowned restaurants around the world, such as La Rochelle, Lespinasse, Bar Basque, China Grill, and the Essex House. 

Fujinaga, who likes to fish, is respectful to the integrity of the ingredients and creates stunning dishes evoking refined and elegant flavors that are sublime to a dizzying effect. Each dish is prepared with dedication and panache.

The world should keep an eye on this rising star.

The menu is elegant and a celebration of seasonal simplicity with an accent on quality. The service is superlative. Once you step in, you know that you will be pampered.

A smart selection of exquisite wines and spirits are available to enjoy with each dish. 

Take for example the smooth and gentle Scottish salmon tartare “Lomilomi” and the buttery yellowfin tuna starter that came in a tiny cup standing like lollipops on a log accompanied with a refreshing roasted red and yellow beet salad. 

The Kumamoto oyster and a fried Shigoku oyster with a touch of aioli sat gently on little paper boats alongside a tin filled with egg custard and salmon caviar. I wanted to savor every bite while they imprinted beautiful memories on my mind. 

And I’ll never forget the jumbo shrimp’s head with piment d’Espelette. The light hint of heat and crunch complemented the mild and sweet melon finish of the oysters.

The light pink-colored filet of amberjack from Hawaii arrived with sautéed cherry tomatoes and basil with olive oil. This sweet and flaky fish was so delicious that upon the first bite my friend sighed with pleasure and satisfaction. 

The whole grilled black sea bass was a sight to look at before it was deboned. It was surrounded with sprigs of thyme and other herbs with lemon in the baking dish. I wanted to linger over the presentation but it was quickly taken back to serve. 

It came back deboned, over sautéed bok choy. The classic dashi broth with seaweed and emulsified foie gras that was gently poured over was perfect. The small pile of crispy leek as the garnish was the highlight. 

What took us into another realm and has been engraved in my mind was the urchin from Santa Barbara with a dash of fleur de sel. It looked as though it had jumped out of a painting. It was slightly torched and gently laid on a little mound of nori-infused pasta with bits of nori purée that added so much depth of the flavor—sweet and smooth like silk with layers of flavors delighting your senses. 

Besides seafood, there is also meat on the menu. An extremely special dish, a tender 28-day aged prime bone-in rib eye was another piece of artwork. Seared first and finished off in the oven, it sat over mashed potatoes with Périgueux sauce, which is usually made from truffles but was much lighter than I expected. Like butter, the meat melted in the mouth. 

I’d suggest trying one of chef Fujinaga’s omakase tastings, which come in three tiers: $79 for five courses, $95 for six courses, or $110 for seven courses.

All in all it was an exciting dining experience. Kudos to chef Fujinaga for elevating it from the ordinary to the revelatory.

The Sea Grill 
Rockefeller Center
19 W. 49 St.

Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., 5 p.m.–10 p.m. 
Saturday 5 p.m.–10 p.m. 
There is a lounge menu. 
Lounge Hours 
Monday–Friday 4:30 p.m.–10 p.m. 
Saturday 2 p.m.–10 p.m.