Imagine Big Willie Style, but with a tracklist limited to “Miami” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Or a luxury car minus the inessential parts, like the power tailgate and panoramic moonroof. It’s still a high-performance vehicle, just without all the extras. And that’s essentially what Sushi By M is: a stripped-down version of a high-end sushi spot, with excellent fish and no other frills.
This East Village restaurant has a total of 11 seats, all of which are at a counter. It’s a tiny space that’s about as half-decorated as a college dorm room on move-in day, and the soundtrack consists of whatever the employees feel like listening to (think MGMT circa 2007 and Rap Caviar circa now). The service is casual and friendly, and you might even see a chef waving a blowtorch around like it’s a sparkler on the Fourth of July - but despite how laid-back this place is, the sushi is comparable to what you’d find at a restaurant requiring month-in-advance reservations and a commitment of several hundred dollars.
To get dinner here, you have to text for a reservation, and your only option is a 10-piece omakase menu that costs $50. The fish might vary slightly from day to day, but you can expect things like hamachi and lean tuna to start, followed by some richer pieces like Hokkaido uni and toro topped with caviar that will stalk you in your dreams like Freddy Krueger or the first person you made eye contact with at a middle school dance. The overall experience is kind of like having an in-home chef with a high-quality supply of arctic char, sea scallop, and creamy botan shrimp.
Each seating lasts exactly one hour, and once your omakase is finished, you’ll have the option to order pieces a la carte. As long as you don’t mind spending $18 extra, we fully encourage you to get the special called the “Big Mac.” It’s chopped toro, seared toro, wagyu, and two kinds of uni all stacked together inside a crispy piece of seaweed, and it’s the sushi equivalent of wearing a luxury bathrobe while standing knee-deep in a hot tub overlooking a sunset (near a beach).
That said, as mentioned earlier, this is not a fancy place. So if you’re planning something like a 30th anniversary dinner or a meal with a few clients who occasionally wear Balenciaga, it’s probably not the right spot. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to get some top-notch sushi without having to liquidate a portion of your assets - and you don’t need any extras like ambient mood lighting or non-paper napkins - Sushi By M is exactly where you want to be.
The only option at Sushi By M is the 10-piece omakase, which, in our experience, has included everything from arctic char and fatty tuna to wagyu topped with uni and some excellent seared albacore. Here are a few examples of what you might find.
If you had to define the word “excessive” using sushi alone, this would be a pretty good attempt. It’s $18, but it’s also one of the best bites of food you can get in the East Village, and you deserve it.