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 the Duane Reade by Union Square, you can do that. We wouldn’t recommend it, but you can legally purchase such a thing. And of course, you can also spend upwards of $200 per person eating an omakase meal at some of the city’s best sushi bars.
But what if you want to try a top-quality omakase without spending as much as you would on a television? You can do that too, if you know where to look. The 12 places on this list serve excellent chef’s choice sushi for under $100 a head, or close to it. They range from 30-minute meals in Flatiron to hidden gems on the Upper West Side and in Park Slope, and they all serve very good raw fish over rice. As a general rule, we recommend sitting at the bar rather than a table when possible, so that you’ll get each piece handed to you individually by the chef. Other than that, have fun, and don’t overdo it on the soy sauce.
Also, if you’re looking for more casual, affordable options - the kind of places where you can get a solid spicy tuna roll and some quality nigiri - check out our guide to NYC’s Best Casual Neighborhood Sushi Spots.
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. Sit at the bar here, and you’ll wonder why there aren’t more places that serve raw fish this good for this price. Things start at $60 for nine pieces and a handroll, and often include unusual pieces like firefly squid or barracuda.
Katsuei’s original location is in Park Slope, and you’ll get a similar sushi situation, for an even lower price: here, the nine piece and a handroll omakase starts at $52. We prefer the brighter, slightly nicer West Village space, but that’s just splitting hairs. This is the best sushi in Brooklyn.
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 12-piece omakase for $90. And, 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.
Compared to your typical restaurant, sushi bars - even the ones that don’t cost as much as a new television - are quiet places. They are serious. In this sense, Sushi Dojo is atypical. While it looks like a nice version of your standard East Village sushi place, Dojo is usually playing music that wouldn’t be out of place at a club while people at the bar drink plenty of sake. Especially on weekends. Speaking of the bar, the very-good omakase there starts at $95, though you can have a cheaper $65 option at a table. Expect some interesting pieces, like a piece of seared wagyu topped with foie gras, mixed in with lighter options like amberjack topped with jalapeno.
Ishikawa is a little spot on the Upper East Side with an L-shaped bar and just a couple of tables. You can only get an omakase meal here, although you can choose from two different options: 12 courses for $85, or 15 courses for $125. If you get the more expensive one, you will most likely experience an hour or so of such things as uni, truffle, and caviar - though the less expensive omakase is pretty luxurious as well. The fish is very high quality, there are few excellent sashimi dishes mixed in, and the meal ends with a large hand roll that will be stuffed with things like ikura and toro.
Uotora is an interesting cross between a neighborhood spot 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 omakase, with things like uni, toro, and whatever fish they currently have in stock. Unless you know the names of most fish in Japanese, you might not always know what you’re eating, but you can trust that it will all be both very fresh and very good. Plus, the omakase is a solid deal at $70. Just be sure to ask for the king salmon dressed with dashi.
Most omakase experiences are all about the fish, which makes sense considering you’re paying August’s ConEd bill for 12 bites of food. But if you’re looking to have a conversation over dinner, then sitting at a nearly silent chef’s counter can be awkward. The omakase bar at Juku, though, is in a loft above their ground-floor izakaya restaurant, and the music and noise from downstairs makes it feel like a fun night out. For $80, you get 12 pieces of very high-quality fish, like toro and king salmon and barracuda, and as the chef hands you each piece, he’ll tell you where it’s from - places ranging from Tokyo to Spain to Tasmania.
Tanoshi is located on a quiet stretch of York Avenue, and when you come you’ll sit on a stool that wouldn’t be out of place at an airport restaurant circa 1998. But this place is filled every night, because they serve some excellent, unusual sushi. The menu starts at $95 for 10 pieces, a half roll, and a handroll, and goes up as you choose to add on more. Prices have risen here since they first opened, but it’s still BYOB (pick up some sake at the liquor store half a block down), which keeps costs from getting completely out of hand.
At Sushi By Bou, they’ll only hold your seat for two minutes after your reservation time, and you have exactly 30 minutes to enjoy your $50, 12-piece omakase. That may sound more stressful than getting through airport security when you’re late to your flight, but once you sit down, Sushi By Bou actually feels like breezing through with TSA Precheck. The whole meal is paced so that as soon as you finish one piece, you’re handed the next. It doesn’t feel rushed - just efficient. And the omakase itself is great, with a range of fish and preparations. We like the West 20th location of Bou, located speakeasy-style in a bar above a restaurant called Jue Lan Club, but there’s another location in Midtown as well.
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 ($27-$51 at dinner, $23-$45) at lunch, but you know you’re likely looking at some tuna sashimi in ponzu sauce, followed by albacore and 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, but this is their first location in NYC. We recommend starting with the regular “Trust Me” on your first visit.
When you walk into Sushi You, the first thing you’ll notice is the TV behind the bar playing Japanese music videos. Sit at the bar and order the omakase, which starts at $80 at dinner and $45 at lunch. Sometimes pieces take a while to come, and some of the sauces lean a bit sweet, but when you want creativity, quality, and fun in one place, this small under-the-radar spot is worth knowing about. This place is funky and casual, and is definitely a deeper cut when it comes to NYC sushi-eating, but is worth a try when you’re looking for something different or in Midtown East.