I came upon a video on Eater that featured Sushi Ginza Onodera, the high-end omakase-only restaurant straight out of Japan. It instantly caught my attention. It’s original location is in Tokyo and has since expanded with locations in Shanghai, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Paris. This past May, it made its debut in New York City. I had to try it.
Right after entering the restaurant, I was kindly shown to my seat. The room was huge with high ceilings. The wooden sushi bar stretched across the entire length of the room. The earthy tones and lustrous lighting created a serene ambiance.
I made the online reservation a couple weeks in advance. They offer a $300 omakase and a $400 one. I opted for the $300 option. Staying true to the Japanese custom, the price already includes tax and gratuity. Tipping is not accepted.
The digital sake list was presented to me. As tempting as the $1,200 bottle of sake was (yea, right!), I went with a carafe of the waitress’ suggestion.
I was so excited to have renowned sushi chef, Masaki Saito, take care of me that evening. He was friendly and funny. Despite dining in a fancy space, it was very laid back and comfortable.
The waitress came by and presented a tray of small glasses to choose from for my sake. The blue one caught my eye.
Chef Saito began preparing the first of several appetizers.
Every appetizer was beautifully presented. Yes, they all tasted as good as they looked. The octopus was tender. The red snapper and whelk with aged sake was fantastic. The mackerel had great flavor.
The Japanese tilefish was lightly torched. It was mild and savory.
The final appetizer was a nice combination of textures and flavors – crunchy garlic chips atop a tender piece of bonito.
After a few appetizers, it was time for the sushi. Sushi Ginza focuses on authentic sushi edomae – the most traditional Japanese sushi.
Everything was prepared precisely with such finesse. It was a joy watching Chef Saito. From the appetizers to the ginger, the execution was perfect.
The nigiri began being served – one delicious piece after another.
The sushi rice was different from the other places I’ve been to. It was a light brown color and seaosned with red vinegar. Definitely different, but very good.
The next piece may have been my favorite of the night. The squid was extremely tender and the charcoal salt added a nice touch of smoke.
I’m overcome with great pleasure every time I’m served a piece of perfectly marbled fatty tuna. Simply incredible.
Another favorite was the mackerel. Not only was it very tasty, the presentation was gorgeous. I’ve never seen sushi sliced so beautifully.
The ikura served over a bed of rice was fresh and delightful.
I don’t usually come across rockfish. It’s similar to red snapper and very tasty.
The pressed sushi was amazing. It’s a traditional type of sushi roll in which the fish and marinated seaweed are wrapped around seasoned rice then sliced.
A piping hot cup of homemade miso soup was served after.
The sea eel was served two ways – one half with yuzu, the other with a light sauce. It was delicious and some of the best anago I ever had.
Keeping with true tradition, the omakase concluded with a slightly sweet piece of Japanese egg omelette, tamago. It was diced and assembled in a checker pattern. Very cool.
A cup of hot green tea was served before dessert. I love when the roasted flavor and aroma really stand out.
The dessert was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. The green tea coconut custard was topped with a sweetened black bean and 24k gold leaf. The chilled dessert was slightly sweet and very refreshing.
The omakase at Sushi Ginza Onodera was more than satisfying. Service was top-notch. The waitresses were very attentive and traditionally dressed in kimonos. The conscious effort to create an authentic and traditional sushi experience was greatly appreciated. Chef Saito was such a delight.
With a $300 price tag, it’s one of those rare special dinners for me. Was it worth it? Well considering the highly skilled chef, beautiful presentations, quality ingredients, amazing service, lovely ambiance, and included gratuity – absolutely.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
461 5th Ave
New York, NY 10017