$85 (10 pc sushi) - $150 (otsumami + 14 pc sushi)
Although omakase dates are usually two-person affairs for us, on this occasion we had a couple of young soulmates-in-training who wanted to come along and join in our favorite activity. A family sushi outing was a last minute idea, so we found ourselves scrambling to find a high-quality sushiya that was kid friendly, somewhere on the east side, and had availability at dinnertime. Enter Sushi Ryusei, a totally pleasant surprise that completely satisfied our spontaneous whim and then some. Led by Masato Oyama, former head chef at Sushi of Gari Columbus and Tribeca, this procession of seasonal selections included a few intriguing otsumami courses, a generous plate of sashimi, and 13 pieces of sushi ending with a handroll. Our more adventurous soulmate-in-training claimed it was the best nigiri she’d had to date, and our less adventurous trainee raved about the California and avocado rolls.
The rice at Sushi Ryusei was pretty average but surely didn’t detract from the omakase. There have been so many experiences we’ve had that could’ve been elevated just on rice temperature alone! When the rice is slightly warm it really does make such a difference for us. Though the rice was room temperature, our other “Ts”—taste and texture—were on point. Slightly sweet with a good amount of vinegar cutting through and skillfully packed, the rice proved a great accompaniment to the fish.
Otsumami courses included thickly sliced lotus root stuffed with minced chicken, honey and vinegar marinated cherry tomatoes, and a sweet squid “meatball” of sorts. This was a fun trio to whet the appetite, and the flavors overall were fresh, bright and exciting; however, our complaint here was that these bites were much, much too cold. I’m talking hazardous for sensitive teeth, cold. Still, we were definitely intrigued to see what would follow. The sashimi plate was visually attractive and included the familiar offerings such as kumo oyster (with a little touch of caviar), ginger marinated mackerel atop a lemon slice for some bright acidity, thick pieces of flavorful chutoro, and beautifully cut pieces of shima aji and kinmedai. One of our favorite dishes of the night was a Sazae clam dish served inside of its own shell with a fish and soy broth. This umami bomb with an intriguing presentation led us to the nigiri which, for the most part, surprised and satisfied. There were the usual offerings like sockeye salmon, aji, kimmedai, otoro and scallop, but there were also some fun unexpected pieces like pike clam with plum sauce, herring roe with bonito flake, and ocean trout. We loved the decadent trio of ikura, uni, and quail egg gunkan and of course the negitoro hand roll to round out the meal. One dish we weren’t fans of was broiled uni over rice served in a little ceramic dish; the smoky flavor overpowered the delicate uni and changed its texture in an unappetizing way. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? On the whole, we were very pleasantly surprised and were grateful to OpenTable for helping us find this lesser-known spot.
The service at Sushi Ryusei was on par with some of the fancier omakase restaurants we’ve been to. Extremely friendly hosts, diligent and attentive waiters, and friendly sushi chefs all down the line. They were nice enough to let our little guests sit at the counter with us even though they weren’t doing the omakase. Our sushi chef even gave our adventurous eater a piece or two that he thought she should try!
We both agreed that there is great value to be had at Sushi Ryusei. There are different price point options for omakase, and lots of a la carte options. For the $150 omakase, we were both pretty satisfied with the amount of food, the freshness of the fish, the variety offered, and the friendliness of our chef. That being said, I think we'd probably go the a la carte route next time so we can just pick and choose our favorites at a comparable price! If the $80 omakase option sounds more doable for you, we don't think you'd be missing out too much as the sushi offering was the highlight for us and some of the otsumami courses were hit or miss.
While pretty unassuming from the outside, the restaurant has a clean, sleek, and modern vibe. The sushi counter really sets it apart from any other run-of-the-mill neighborhood sushi spot with its inviting bright white countertop and hip black spinning chairs. Plus, the lighting was great for snapping those sushi ‘grams ;) We see a lot of range with this spot varying from an optimistic first date at night to an impressive business lunch during the day.
If Sushi Ryusei was just a bit closer to our apartment we’d be ordering take out weekly. Some follow-up visits when we're in the area or when we have our minis with us will have to suffice.