Sushi Yasaka (NYC): Bargain Omakase on the UWS

L took me out to celebrate my work promotion on Wednesday night, which obviously meant I got to pick the restaurant which obviously meant sushi was going to be a given. We’ve been traveling A LOT, so I wanted to be cognizant of price tag, making it the perfect opportunity to finally cross Sushi Yasaka off my never-ending restaurant bucket list. Located in the Upper West Side, I’d always heard great reviews about what’s apparently one of the best omakase deals in the city right next to Sushi Dojo.

bar
Prime seats at the sushi bar for an unexpectedly fantastic omakase at Sushi Yasaka…check out that uni.

We sat at the 9-seater sushi bar, and both went for the $45 (!) omakase – 12 pieces of sushi plus a maki roll. Given most highly lauded omakases tend to be at least twice that cost, we were curious to see just how the quality would turn out. (Spoiler alert: it was really freaking good.)

It goes without saying that the show-stopper of the evening was of course the uni, fresh from Santa Barbara and melt-in-your-mouth heavenly. The generous heaps were sweet as can be. Pretty sure it was so good I had a temporary sea urchin blackout.

uni
Highlight of the omakase at Sushi Yasaka: Santa Barbara uni.

A close second to the uni was the lightly seared bluefin tuna that was incredibly tender and exploded in your mouth with a perfect one-two flavor punch of sweet and savory. L thought it was one of the tastiest as well.

seared
The seared bluefin tuna from the omakase at Sushi Yasaka was overloaded with incredible flavor.

Part of why I love omakase is because the entire meal feels like edible art, with each delicate and carefully crafted piece a thing of beauty to be admired before completely devoured. I actually found the below shima-aji aka striped jack to be one of the aesthetic stunners of the night (of course, it was delicious too).

striped jack
A thing of beauty – the shima-aji aka striped jack during the omakase at Sushi Yasaka.

Another wow factor was the multiple courses of deliciously fatty and plump toro we were served throughout the night. Grade A quality for sure.

UniDiaries_Yasaka_Toro
Look at the impeccable marbling on the toro! L got two of these fatty melt-in-your-mouth pieces because as usual he asked for no uni (blasphemy, I know) and was allowed to pick whatever he wanted to replace.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_ToroHandroll
No omakase is complete without a roll, which can sometimes feel like a throwaway course but this one was absolutely overflowing with a giant helping of fatty toro.

Some other snapshot highlights from the night:

Celebratory champagne to start the night off right.
Celebratory champagne to start the night off right.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_Ebi
That glisten of ebi never fails to make me weak in the knees.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_KingSalmon
The king salmon was buttery and smooth.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_Saba
I’ve never loved mackerel and this bite was no different, but taste aside, can’t deny its photogenic nature!
UniDiaries_Yasaka_Scallop
The scallop almost looked like a toasted marshmallow – and tasted equally as scrumptious!
UniDiaries_Yasaka_SeaBream
Little garnishes, like the ones on this sea bream, make all the difference when it comes to pumping up the flavor profile of each bite.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_YellowtailJalapeno
Yellowtail jalapeño is a sushi classic but this one was extra fatty. Phenomenal bite.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_CrabSoySauce
Ridiculously cute soy sauce dish that naturally went completely unused.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_RegularOmakase
What the omakase looks like for those who order it away from the sushi bar…beautiful assortment but nothing compares to the piece by piece experience straight from the chef himself.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_UniSeat
Of course we sat at the sushi bar and of course I happened to be in the one seat directly in front of the uni which of course meant I had googly eyes the entire night. A nice 52 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the fish fresh.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have zero self control when it comes to uni, so once the omakase was complete, I couldn’t help but order dessert aka three additional orders of sashimi: Santa Barbara uni, Maine uni, and baby abalone.

UniDiaries_Yasaka_ExtraUni1
(l to r) Baby abalone sashimi (very cartilage-y in texture), Maine uni (an entire sea urchin’s worth), and Santa Barbara uni (such huge pieces they had to slice them in half). The perfect dessert ending to the omakase at Sushi Yasaka.
UniDiaries_Yasaka_ExtraUni3
Close-up of the Maine and Santa Barbara uni sashimi. Sight for sore eyes.

Sushi Yasaka – Pros:

  • When it comes to the art of the omakase, the sushi chef is the maestro. L and I each had a dedicated sushi chef who, in perfect unison, would each place our piece onto our respective plates simultaneously. Flawless orchestration that was a delight to witness.
  • Speaking of the chefs – they were wonderful! Stellar service and fun personalities that kept us smiling the whole night.
  • The price! Holy cheap. Still can’t believe it was $45 only for 12 glorious pieces plus a roll. Even my additional orders of uni were totally affordable – believe it was $7 for what ended up being approximately five pieces of Maine uni and $6 for the Santa Barbara uni. They even offer a mini omakase (6 pieces and a roll) for $24! Such a steal in my new favorite hidden gem on the Upper West Side.
  • While we both went for the omakase this time, we did inquire whether it’d be OK for one of us to get it and the other to order a la carte. Typically, we’ve found that fancier restaurants don’t allow this (aka if one person gets omakase, everyone in the party must join in as well – i.e. 15 East, Shuko, etc.) so that’s a nice plus if your dining companion isn’t quite as committed as you are.

Sushi Yasaka – Cons:

  • Sitting at the sushi bar was a nice and personalized experience, but it was right in front of the dining room itself – which was a bit too noisy and crowded. Definitely request seats at the sushi bar if you venture here.

Rating [out of 5]: ★★★★

Address:
251 W 72nd St, New York, NY

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