There is a small, low-key sushi spot on the Upper East called Sushi Seki. I stumbled upon it because it was the closest sushi restaurant to my apartment, but from my first meal there, I was in love. It flew under the radar, but the quality of the fish was so good (particularly for the price) that it became a late-night go-to for sushi chefs after their shift. And for the Russian mafia, but that’s another story. It is a no-frills place where it’s all about basic sushi, not funky rolls. Just let the fish do the talking.
The newer Hell’s Kitchen location follows the same principle, but it’s a much larger location. With the increased space comes an increased menu. From a sushi perspective, Hell’s kitchen is basically the same, but there’s a stronger emphasis on the bar and oysters. In addition to tons of sake options, there are amazing and nuanced cocktails to choose from, all made with Japanese ingredients. There’s the umami, their take on a bloody mary, made with gazpacho vodka. It was the flavor of a bloody but so light that you don’t feel like you’re drinking a meal. My favorite cocktail, however, was the yuzu. The Japanese citrus made for a margarita flavor (that I amped up by making with mezcal, per the bartender’s suggestion) that was offset by yukari salt in the drink rather than on the rim.
The drinks are a wonderful addition to the Sushi Seki menu; but beware, they jack up the bill significantly. I think next time I might drink more at home and save some cash for a little extra sushi since it’s just that good. I might even order two seaweed salads because it was hands down the best seaweed salad I have ever had.