No Fly New York City Sushi for 2023 List
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of the “2023 New York City Sushi Guide‘, presented by Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura Sake. The digital guide features a number of articles, collections, “best ofs” and “What to dos” for the Big Apple, and can accessed directly at NYCSushiGuide.com. As always, we appreciate your support of the blog and it’s first presenting sponsor, which is one of Takara Sake’s feature brands.
Those of you who have read this blog for a while – the true legends – know that I can be hard headed.
And petty. Very petty.
In that vein, there are two (for now…) sushiya in New York City that I won’t touch. Not even if Denis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and those wolves from the Day After Tomorrow show up on the eve of the apocalypse and they’re the only two open.
If Jiro Dreams of Sushi precipitated the rise of Edomae Sushi and corresponding love for the Omakase in the United States, surely Sushi Nakazawa was the first to capitalize on it. It’s just too bad they were so blatant about it.
It’s not exactly the most ingenious of business ideas. Each one of us could have thought of it sitting there in the theatre, captivated, watching Jiro-san sling 20 pieces of sushi for the equivalent of $300 USD.
“What if we brought Jiro to the United Sates, the cradle of capitalism? We could charge 8 times as much!”.
Well Alessandro Borgognone saw the movie. Thought of that idea. Grabbed the next best thing to the next best thing to the next best thing, Daisuke Nakazawa (Jiro’s fourth in command) and opened in 2013.
Like all great plans/schemes*, this one needed a mark. That’s where you and I come in.
So why do I care? Why is Sushi Nakazawa on this list when every other high-end sushiya in the US has done the same thing since then? This one felt paint by numbers. Tick all the boxes, watch the marks roll in. Always has, always will.
I’ve never fallen for it, no matter how many angry messages I get. And neither will you.
*disclaimer for legal reasons it is important to note that I do not think that Nakazawa committed a scheme or conspiracy
Nama is the sushi counter inside the Aman New York, the first city-based US location of the renowned hotel chain.
My wife and I stayed at the Amanemu in Ise Shima on our honeymoon and loved it (review here). The bulk of the charm is how well the brand integrates with its environment.
The city expansion – first to Tokyo, now to NYC (with Beverly Hills and Miami to follow), is a blatant attempt to cash in on the residences boom while completely ignoring its ethos. Capitalism.
But that’s not the reason Nama appears on this list.
This is. It’s accessible only to hotel guests and members of something called the founders club, making it another notch in an emerging trend of membership only restaurants. The business model for these things is the same as that second tier streaming site you keep forgetting to cancel; guaranteed revenue streams.
For the customer, it’s the opportunity to brag about THIS SICK CLUB I’M A MEMBER OF BRO to your friends or personal trainer. Every week another one of these things emerges, sometimes included with an NFT in what is basically a cornucopia of the worst-of-2022.
But that’s only part of the reason Nama appears on this list.
Of course I tried my best to find my way in. All for you legends (and for that sweet, sweet SEO that comes with reviewing a brand new spot).
So I emailed them. Super courteous. No freebie/”collaboration” requests (never have, never will). Just get me in the door so I can write a review for all of you, and I’ll pay you legal tender.
The answer was no.
So they’re dead to me.
Like I said, petty.
Thanks to the internet/the restaurants for the pictures (since again, I’ll never visit to take them myself).