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Best Omakase Sushi

Taka
61 Grove Street; 212-242-3699

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When other people cry "Omakase" at a sushi bar, they mean, "Let the chef decide." When we say it, we mean, "Astonish me!" At first-rate midtown emporiums like Kuruma Zushi and Sushi Yasuda you get exquisite fish on perfect wads of vinegared rice. But there's something a bit ruthless and dull about it all: expensive jewels handed down by Olympian chefs to unworthy supplicants. We prefer the human touch -- and a bit more theatrical presentation -- and find it at Taka in the West Village. Taka is unorthodox in some respects -- its sushi chef and owner, Takako Yoneyama, is a woman -- but her omakase meals, reasonably priced at about $70 per person, are classic. A small plate (she makes the pottery herself) holds a seascape of perfumed giant clams nestled amid tiny raw oysters on the half-shell. The yolk of a quail egg on a clump of toro tartare is camouflaged by shredded seaweed: a little bird's nest. We love that she watches closely as you eat, because Takako aims to please, and her aim is always true.


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