Sasabune – Upper East Side

I stumbled into this tiny restaurant with one desire: Sushi. What I walked out with was way better and fully unexpected.

Attracted by the humble sign on their front door that reads “No Spicy Tuna, No California Rolls, Just Trust Me,” I knew I wanted to explore this little sushi joint. I walked in and was greeted by a sushi bar. Just a sushi bar. A couple of bare tables on the side. No music playing. No televisions running. Little decor.

“Omakase only here,” I was told. Fascinated by the start of this journey already, I accepted the steep price and took a seat at this wooden sushi bar in front of my master sushi chef, Kenji.

The Omakase Special was called “Trust Me,” featuring a sashimi appetizer, 12 piece sashimi or sushi of the chef’s choice, and one hand roll. I had a small hot Sake along with this adventure. I had never had Omakase before.

The rest was history. I was served 2 pieces at a time, with directions given with each piece regarding whether or not I should use soy sauce. The ginger and wasabi was excellent quality. And the fish, of course, was at a caliber I had never experienced before.

To be honest, I barely know what I ate. I just recall Sea Urchin imported from Japan, varying scallops and tunas, and blue fin tuna hand roll. Each and every piece, regardless of whatever it was, proved to be extremely memorable and nothing short of world-class.

The modest decor — I realized — was certainly purposeful. There was no room for distractions here. It was supposed to be an experience between Human and Sushi. No TVs or Music or Extravagant Decor to pull you away from this true goal of experiencing the Art of Sushi. 

The place is also quiet, even when others are there. In the hustle and bustle of New York City, Sasabune offers a calm atmosphere to enjoy and unwind. 

I have been fortunate to go to many restaurants in my life, even around the world. Yet, Sasabune has easily become one of my favorite — perhaps my #1 favorite — restaurant to date. Their purpose is focused. Their food is good. They don’t need to work hard to convince you, because the answers to your questions are there — in the sushi.

I will certainly be back, and I would happily bring others who are willing to explore. The price is certainly steeper than other sushi joints, but that’s because the experience is different. There are tables outside that do offer regular dining with a full menu, so Sasabune is not exclusively for the Omakase experience, unless you sit indoors at the sushi bar. I loved it here, and Sasabune opened my eyes to what it means to be an Artist in this particular Craft of sushi-making!