Pete Wells reviewed Le Bernardin in May this year and gave the restaurant four stars. It was the first time in his two year tenure the critic doled out such an accolade. Not surprising, considering the city only had six restaurants of this caliber at the time. The others being Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto, Jean-Georges, and Daniel. But Wells took away Daniel's fourth star in July this year. With today's review though, a shining four star number of Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village, the number is back up to six.
Daisuke Nakazawa, the chef, worked for eleven years at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the restaurant that got it's own documentary in 2011 that everyone still (rightfully so) talks about. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is about a 10-seat sushi counter buried in a Tokyo train station that has drawn people from all over the world. A meal there costs about $300/person and lasts less than an hour, but the strict pursuit of perfection and immaculate execution there is priceless (it seems, we haven't eaten there. Yet...)
Sushi Nakazawa opened on Commerce Street in the West Village in August, months after Alessandro Borgognone, the restaurants owner, found Daisuke Nakazawa on Facebook and invited him to open a restaurant in New York City.
"The moment-to-moment joys of eating one mouthful of sushi after another can merge into a blur of fish bliss," Wells writes. "But almost everything Mr. Nakazawa cups in his hands and places in front of you is an event on its own. A piece of his sushi grabs control of your senses, and when it’s gone, you wish you could have it again." Wells also writes about Nakazawa's approach, "Everything is gently pressed over rice, in the two-century-old Edo style of sushi that Mr. Nakazawa respects and refines. Sashimi is not served, and there are no hot dishes from the kitchen."
Sushi Nakazawa is the city's first four star restaurant that's not a juggarnaut in terms of size and space. That means rent, among other costs, is significantly lower. The city's other restaurants of a shared caliber are 100+ seaters with tremendous rents and other variables that result in a high price for the consumer. You can eat at Sushi Nakazawa for $120 if you don't want to sit at the counter. If you do sit there and watch Nakazawa in action it's only $30 more. Either way, the meal is about 20 courses. The menu is different than the ones at the city's other four star restaurants, which might be the biggest factor in cost, but it's also much cheaper. A meal at Eleven Madison Park is $225. Jean-Georges, $198. Per Se, $295. Consider other restaurants that serve similar fare, (Brooklyn Fare charges $255, Neta $225), and the price is one on a long list of reasons to eat at Sushi Nakazawa. [NYTimes]