Mon-Sat, noon-2pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, noon-2pm and 5pm-10:30pm
4, 5, 6 at 86th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
76th St. to 97th St., Lexington Ave. to East End Ave.
Housed in a sliver of space on First Avenue, this serene Japanese restaurant shows impressive skill at both raw and cooked fish. There’s hardly room for twenty, but seating is comfortable for the mainly Japanese crowd in this elegant, jade-colored eatery. The sushi includes a long list of well-known and rarely seen seafood at above-average freshness. For the omakase menu, the chef may send out fatty toro and creamy sea urchin, along with horse mackerel topped with a nano-sized scallion slaw and aggressive dose of wasabi. Occasionally shellfish can be tough and chewy, but for the neighborhood this is one of the best options. Cooked dishes are worthwhile. Kitsune udon marries fat noodles with a rich, salty broth topped with slices of the kitchen’s homemade tofu, which is wonderfully creamy inside and crisp outside. A starter of Tai Kabuto Nitsuke—simmered snapper head—isn’t for the squeamish, but the succulent cheek meat and juicy bones are a treat for the adventurous. Main dishes are nicely refined; sablefish marinated in unfiltered sake and sweet miso has a butterscotch sweetness that pairs well with the tiny squares of meaty, slightly bitter seaweed served on the side.Recommended Dishes
Tai kabuto nitsuke, $12.50; gindara kasuzuke, $20; omakase, $30; kitsune udon, $10