Yuba (NYC): Solid East Village Sushi

Yuba used to be a go-to for me years ago when I first moved to NYC in 2012 because of the quantity and quality of fun uni dishes on their menu, with the layered yuba and uni being a sublime, memorable favorite. So during a Saturday funday in the East Village yesterday, after L let me talk him into yet another sushi dinner and a quick call uncovered the fact that Yuba happened to have 2 of its 6 sushi bar seats available, my long-awaited return to this hidden gem was set.

Yuba omakase highlights.

Little known fact. The head chefs and co-owners of Yuba, Jack Wei and George Ruan, formerly paid their dues in the city at the highly-celebrated Masa. Therefore, it’s interesting to note that despite their high-end credentials, Yuba remains as quiet and unassuming as it is considering its consistent quality. Last night, we both ordered up the mid-tier omakase, priced at $85 for 15 pieces (there were also $65 and $105 options). Overall? Great. Impressive quality, relaxed atmosphere, and solid service.

I was a bit bummed because they only had Maine uni last night, but it was delicious. Custard-like yet silky in texture, it was perfectly sweet and ocean fresh. A+ sea urchin.

Maine uni was one of the best bites at Yuba…I mean, just look at it. Yum.

Another favorite for both L and I was the very first course of the night, kumamoto oyster with sturgeon caviar. Those who know me know that before my uni obsession, oysters were my first love and this one was a clear reminder as to why. Kumamotos are so rich and plump and creamy, and the sturgeon caviar added a hint of salty brine to an overall flavor and texture profile that was really well-balanced.

Deliciously creamy kumamoto oyster with sturgeon caviar.

The other courses from last night’s omakase:

The second course of the night, tsujiki white fish topped with truffle, was an unexpected flavor explosion.
The chefs hard at work behind the sushi bar.
The shima aji aka striped jack.
The sea trout.
This bite of hotate aka sea scallop was fantastic – topped with a tiny bit of a salty seasoning mixed with lemon. We really enjoyed this piece.
The madai aka sea bream sure was pretty.
Fail-proof salmon.
Tasty tai aka Japanese red snapper.
Pretty sure neither of us have had isaki aka grunt fish before, and we were pleasantly surprised by its beautiful color and delicate sweetness.
The fatty hamachi aka yellowtail was seriously smooth and buttery…check out that marbling.
Fatty tuna.
Tiny unassuming sushi bar led by the great Jack Wei.
Maguro aka bluefin tuna is always one of my favorites because I’m a closet Wicked Tuna fan and I like to pretend that this maybe came from the Hard Merchandise or the Hot Tuna.
The simple, understated amberjack.
The aji or Japanese horse mackerel.
Chef Wei!

After a mind-blowing omakase at Kura a couple weeks ago that was filled with many unforgettable torched pieces, once this omakase at Yuba came to a close, we specifically requested torched otoro as dessert. YUM. The fattiness of the tuna was crazy buttery and rich and the smokiness from the torching was absolutely mouth-watering.

Torched otoro…mind-blowing.

Yuba – Pros:

  • Extensive a la carte menu. Omakase aside, the a la carte selections at Yuba are extremely fun – especially for uni lovers. Given its namesake, the yuba here is pretty incredible so the uni with yuba is a must.
  • The talented chefs! Unique in that all chefs behind the sushi bar are Chinese (vs. Japanese), we were impressed by the courses served up by the calm yet personable Chef Wei.
  • The price point was super reasonable. Our $85 option included 15 pieces, making this a surefire deal in the city given the solid quality and service.

Yuba – Cons:

  • The quality was undeniable, but it might have been nice for the omakase specifically to have had more unexpected tastes or innovative pieces.
  • Yuba, from a look & feel standpoint, is pretty basic in its decor. The sushi bar itself is extremely intimate given there are only 6 seats, but the restaurant overall is somewhat bare (though that has no direct bearing on its quality).

Rating [out of 5]: ★★★★

105 E 9th St, New York, NY

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