Mon-Wed, 11:30am-11pm; Thu-Fri, 11am-midnight; Sat, 4:30pm-midnight; Sun, 4:30pm-11pm
6 at 23rd St.
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9th St. to 30th St., First Ave. to Seventh Ave.
If this Gramercy block were a high school, Sushi Samba would be the popular kid, but Azuki would be the cool one. Azuki’s so cool that its tidy little sushi bar isn’t even visible from the front of the restaurant but tucked into a rear corner of a long, narrow, peach-and-turquoise room, once home to a Teriyaki Boy franchise. While its better-known next-door neighbor has become a big tourist draw, Azuki attracts pretty, well-groomed young locals who multitask as they eat, gossiping at high volume while tapping at their BlackBerrys. Though most look too willowy to consume solid food, Azuki’s generous with portions and flavor: A pungent yellowtail-jalapeño roll is stuffed with subtle fish and searing peppers, and a neat tower of spicy tuna tartare nearly sizzles with chile oil. Cooked plates, like aged tofu and teriyaki, are clean, greaseless, and subtly seasoned. For the noise-sensitive, beware: Sounds bounce off every hard surface here, and the volume seems to rise with the passing hours. A calm solo meal or romantic dinner is unlikely here, but it’s a fine spot to spy a certain stripe of young Manhattanite in its native habitat.Recommended Dishes
Jalapeño-yellowtail roll, $8; tuna tartare, $8; chicken-teriyaki bento box, $10; sushi & sashimi combo, $24