This venue is closed.
In the preening, showy world of New York’s new Japanese restaurants, Hedeh is a quirky, even quaint anomaly. There are no great Mothra-size lanterns, no Buddha ice sculptures, no renderings on the walls of gigantic yakuza body tattoos. What you get instead is an idiosyncratic trip down memory lane. The restaurant is modestly sized (it’s in the same arch-windowed building that once housed Jean-Michel Basquiat’s studio), like Japanese restaurants used to be. It’s a sushi restaurant, mostly, and also a bar, with rows of backlit sake and beer bottles lining the walls in the front of the room. The dining area is dominated by the sushi bar, and behind it stands the diminutive head chef, Hideyuki Nakajima (“Hedeh” is his nickname), dressed in natty whites and a jaunty baggy white cap. His assistants wear the baggy white caps, too, and the effect you get, as they boom out their Japanese greetings, is of entering a neighborly, slightly offbeat dining club in one of Tokyo’s more eccentric nightclub districts. Most of the new Japanese establishments are designed around big, circuslike themes, but at Hedeh, the focus is on the food. With only seven entrées listed (excluding sushi and sashimi), the menu is small by today’s standards, and lends itself, in the leisurely Japanese tradition, to a series of appraising bites, instead of the kind of two-fisted group dining that’s in vogue around town. If you have the cash, the place to begin your meal is with the sushi, which is as pure and professional as any you’ll find downtown.Note
A good selection of the fashionable Japanese rotgut shochu is available, and if it’s sangria you like, there’s a nice sake version, spiked with vodka, Japanese-pear slices, and maraschino cherries.
Mon.—Sat., 5 p.m.—7:30 p.m.
Chef’s omakase, $50-$90; scallop maki roll, $8; spicy rock shrimp, $9; fillet of beef, $12; mont blanc, $8