Sugarfish was born from the renowned sushi chef and restaurateur Kazunori Nozawa of the famed Sushi Nozawa in California. Nozawa came from Japan where he trained and worked to learn the techniques from the many regions of Japan. He then moved to America, sharing his knowledge of traditional Japanese food in restaurants all around the country, eventually he settled and started his own restaurant, Sushi Nozawa, in the San Fernando Valley. For 25 years, Sushi Nozawa has been world renowned by sushi lovers as having the best sushi out of Japan and has been recognized with many awards. To the disappointment of many, in 2012 the original Sushi Nazawa closed its doors. In 2016, they have opened a restaurant in the Flatiron District of New York to give the East Coast the opportunity to taste the famed sushi. That resturant is Sugarfish.
Having tried unsuccessfully three times, getting a seat at Sugarfish is near impossible. It is due to the hectic storm of not taking reservations, the fame of the restaurant, the affordable prices, and New Yorkers love of food, especially sushi. At the small restaurant with seating for only around 30 diners at a time, there is an unrelenting line of people snaking down the normally uncrowded Flatiron street. They all are waiting to get to the desk to get onto the waiting line to hear the wait time. Very normally the wait can be upwards of four hours if you get there too late, meaning around 6 o'clock. After many failed attempts, I have learned it is best to get there early, at around four or five and you can get a seat in around 30 minutes. They have a system where you can leave them your information and go to look around the nearby shops until they text you informing you that your table is near ready. At that point you immediately drop what you were doing and rush back frantically excited and desperately hungry for the sushi to come.
At Sugarfish the menu is relatively short and extraordinarily simple. Its important to note that simple in this case does not mean easy or boring, but instead the simplicity is to maintain the purity and quality of the product. The food at Sugarfish is more expensive than most sushi, but that added price is for the premier quality of the fish and all the components of the sushi. However, it is defiantly much cheaper than other New York City sushi restaurants that serve sushi at that caliber, also concerning that all the menu prices include the tip. Nozawa is famous for his "Trust Me" style sushi fixed menus, so of course, we trusted him. In fact we ordered the Nozawa Trust Me, their largest set meals.
The instructions for how the enjoy the food properly is clearly explained. Nozawa detested the “American-style” of having extravagant, overdressed rolls and instead forced on the purity of the few main ingredients. At all the Nozawa restaurants pride themselves on doing the painstaking work to get the absolute best ingredients from the finest fish purveyors and preparing it with the utmost care to get a product that he is proud to serve. It makes sense that they want to give you the pure experience of tasting the sushi as the chef has worked so hard to prepare to perfection. Even though you are offered to use the house made fresh soy sauce and ponzu, it is recomended to eat the sushi as it is served.
The Nozawa Trust Me menu consists of many courses starting with a the tuna sashimi. The lean tuna is very clean and the tart brightness of the citrus herb sauce gets your palate ready for the rest of the meal. Next are the plates of sushi. The sushi is made to order with the rice still hot. The sushi is seasoned with light soy sauce, wasabi, and other specific flavors like a seasoning powder or chills to compliment the fish. You can taste the freshness of the fish. The scallop and salmon are soft and very sweet. The other fish have more of a bite to them and some are seasoned delicately with a delicious spice mix. After the sushi we had the blue crab roll with fresh, sweet blue crab meat rolled with warm rice wrapped in crisp seaweed. After the crab was a roll with toro. The fatty salmon has a creaminess that is delicious with the warm rice.
Eating at Sugarfish was an experience that was worth the wait and the many failed attempts. The care for quality and the reverence for the ingredients were very apparent throughout the meal. The sushi at Sugarfish was some of the best I have ever had and reminded me of the tastes and quality of the sushi of Japan.