To eat good sushi in New York, you have to pay for it. I've tasted spectacular sushi in this city, but at $50 to $100 per person without drinks, it's a rare treat.
Sushi of Gari, whose upper east side location lays claim to on Michelin star (there are two other lesser famed outposts in New York: one at Columbus Circle, the other in the upper west side), is perhaps the most affordable high class sushi restaurant in the city.
No need to order appetizers, though plenty of traditional Japanese small plates fill the menu, or a $700 bottle of champagne, or any of the miscellaneous cooked noodle or tempura dishes. The set Sushi Deluxe dinner ($37, shown with one additional item on the plate) is nine delectable, mostly classic pieces of sushi and one roll, in this case, a fatty tuna with scallion if I'm not mistaken. On the top row in the photo, the third piece from the right is an additional uni sushi piece ($7.50) that I added to the dinner.
More adventurous sushi fans might prefer the Special Sushi dinner ($45), a chef's selection of more artfully designed sushi pieces, such as fatty tuna tartare with hijiki and pine nuts, which was on the set Boyfriend ate, slowly and with more restraint to savor each bite than is usually his speed.
Even my very classic set came with a few surprises. The sushi piece shown with a blob of sauce (shown, top row, second from left) held a fried oyster and a hint of fruitiness. Salmon roe (top right) usually isn't something I order because it occasionally tastes like getting punched in the face by a wave at the beach, but every ruby egg in this monster-sized bite popped gently, more like dipping your toes in the ocean while breathing in the sea air.
Though I might question whether the shrimp could have been cooked more delicately, or if the decor could use a makeover, these nitpicks would fly in the face of Sushi of Gari's biggest draw: value. A $37 high quality sushi dinner ain't bad.
Sushi of Gari, Upper East
402 East 78th Street (between First and York Avenues)