Sushi Seki, which has three locations in New York City, is the brainchild of chef Seki Shi, who trained in Japan before moving to New York City in 1991 and further honing his chops at the renowned Sushi of Gari. He opened the original Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side in 2002, a second location in Chelsea in 2014, and a third on the Theatre District’s Restaurant Row in 2015. We recently had the opportunity to dine at the newest location at the invitation of the restaurant, and our meal was spectacular.
The bi-level space is divided into a handful of different rooms; there’s a bar, sushi counter, and dining room on the main floor; and a smaller sushi counter and dining room on the second floor, along with a few curtained traditional zashiki tables, where guests remove their shoes and sit on the floor. Up at the very front of this floor is a semi-private room with only three tables and plenty of natural light (and good people-watching) from the front windows; we sat there and suggest you request to do the same.
We were treated to a seven-course omakase with pairings, and it was a complete delight from start to finish. Here’s the play-by play:
Course 1: Baby sweetfish simmered in sansho pepper-infused soy sauce; aspic with sea eel, okra, and baby corn; okra veloute; and cold beef shabu-shabu with wasabi sesame sauce; paired with a Toki Japanese whisky highball. These were perfect amuse-bouches; the okra veloute was a little mucilaginous for my tastes, but I’m not a huge fan of okra to begin with.
Course 2: Red snapper sashimi with lemon and Okinawa sea salt. If you’re not eating your sashimi with lemon, now’s a good time to start. This course was paired with Lady Biho Namasake Junmai Ginjo from Hiroshima.
Course 3: Tempura fiddleheads and shiso leaf; minced shrimp and scallop wrapped in shiso leaf; paired with Gai’a 2013 Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece. These were perfectly light and crispy, and not greasy at all.
Course 4: Grilled filet mignon with a sauce made from dark, soybean-based Hatcho miso, paired with Alchemist 2013 pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The steak was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was rich and full of umami.
Course 5: Nigiri sushi: chu-toro with fresh wasabi soy; fluke; and rainbow trout with sturgeon caviar; paired with Sohomare “Tuxedo” Junmai Diginjo Kimoto sake from Tochigi. This sushi was expertly prepared, and each piece of fish was perfectly paired with its accompaniments.
Course 6: Grilled sea eel over rice; smoky red miso soup; and sautéed burdock root. I could eat this for lunch every day and be very happy.
Course 7: Matcha creme brulee and berry mochi ice cream, paired with Ichiro’s “The First” single malt whiskey on the rocks. The matcha gave the creme brulee a slightly bitter flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering.
If you couldn’t already tell from the photos, this was a truly luxurious, high-end omakase experience. Each dish was constructed with an eye for balance, all the flavors played off each other flawlessly, the quality of the ingredients was top-notch, and the pairings (by general manager and certified sake sommelier Yasuyuki Suzuki) were excellent. In total, this was a great meal.
The meal that was the subject of this review was provided at no cost to the author.