1372 York Avenue
New York, NY 10021
It’s been a few years since I’ve last visited Tanoshi. I used to always think, maybe one day Tanoshi will open up a second location downtown? Or maybe they’ll decide that being uptown isn’t all its hyped up to be, so they’ll move? Both of which I knew were pipe dreams. The owner, King Ang, specifically opened up at this location because he thought there were a lack of quality sushi-yas uptown. We’re downtown people though. Boyfriend refers to midtown as Canada, and uptown the North Pole. Wait till he hears we are going to Sasabune (just down the block) in a couple of weeks! Who doesn’t love surprises?
Both from memory, and on paper, with the exception of location, Tanoshi is our dream sushi-ya. Simple, almost hole-in-the-wall type (décor), BYOB (that means zero alcohol markup), with amazingly fresh fish, prepared minimalistically (Edo-period style), and super attentive service. These were all specific requests from head chef, Chef Toshio Oguma. The story of how Chef Toshio Oguma and King Ang paired up is quite interesting, watch the interview! They situate the restaurant such that there are only 3 seatings a day, 6PM, 7:30PM, and 9PM, and each of their 3 chefs serves only 4 patrons per seating. Word to the wise, once seated, eat quickly! The 90 minute window includes the 15 minutes that they need to turn over the restaurant for the next seating. No joke, they have JUST ENOUGH glasses and plates. This means you have roughly only 75 minutes!
The omakase consist of 10 pieces, a half roll, and a hand roll, and will take a good 45-50 minutes. If that’s enough, then you’re all set! But let’s get real, who does that fill? That’s like a half meal! Like a Happy Meal from McDonalds. I’m not a child, I need adult portions! For those that eat like a regular person, you may want to do the “double omakase”. The double omakase is a total of 20 pieces, a half roll, and a hand roll. Basically everything you would get as part of the regular omakase, plus 10 of the items in the “add-on” list. You have to let them know in advance if you want to do this though! We typically like to do the regular omakase, and then order individually. This is because we are both so picky in what we want. If they have 15 add-ons for you to choose from, we might want to do multiples of only 5 or 6 items, and not have one of each of the 15. Problem is TIME.
Last tid bit of advice. If possible, reserve one of the earlier seatings. They run out of fish, so as the night progresses, the list of add-on options gets shorter and shorter.
- HIRAME – White fishes are my favorite fish category, and I LOVE a good piece of HIRAME. This was impeccably fresh, slightly chewy (as it is supposed to be), dressed with just a touch of soy. DELISH!
- HAMACHI with KELP – I am not a huge fan of plain HAMACHI. Only reason is because I can find quality HAMACHI at 9 out of 10 sushi-yas in NYC. Wouldn’t need to seek it out specifically. This HAMACHI was especially good though. The kelp was a great touch.
- KOBUJIME – Fluke marinated in KOMBU seaweed, served with a tiny bit of Shiso between the fish and the rice. I LOVE KOBUJIME style fish! This was fantastic!! At this point, I should talk a little bit abt the rice. Chef Toshio believes in fresh, warm, “loosey” rice, where upon entering your mouth, the sushi will disassemble quickly and easily. He takes great pride in his rice, so asking him to give me less is not going to bode well! Ugh, have to do it though. I don’t want to fill up on rice. I have “extras” to order later! Forgive me chef…
- KINMEDAI – I don’t think I have an absolute favorite, but KINEMEDAI is one of my top three in the white fish category. And this one did not disappoint. MY one quirk about this fish, is that this is the only fish that I prefer HEAVILY aburi-ed (torched). Clearly, this one was not heavily aburi-ed, but it was still SO delicious, so impeccably fresh. Ugh (a good ugh), three of my first four pieces are white fishes, ALL of which were DELCIOUS. I’m in Heaven.
- NAMERA – And then comes a fourth piece of white fish, and again, another deliciously fresh one. The NAMERA is Japanese grouper. Though available, it is not too often found at NYC sushi-yas, which only makes me appreciate it more. This was simply dressed in just a little bit of soy. I’m so happy right now…
- CHUTORO – I LOVE a good CHUTORO, this one was fabulous! Again, simply dressed in just a tiny bit of soy, and nothing else. Great, fresh fish really doesn’t need much.
- BOTAN EBI with UNI – Ahhh… time for the shellfish! Does the UNI look a little too watery? Don’t worry, it wasn’t. It was really fantastic, as was the BOTAN EBI. How can anyone not love UNI with BOTAN EBI?
- OTORO – If you read my guide, you’ll know that between OTORO and CHUTORO, I always prefer CHUTORO. OTORO tends to be a little too fatty for me, almost to a point of where I need to rinse my mouth out after. This was delicious though, so just an extra bite of rice, and all is good in the hood!
- “Triple X” – This is the combo of HOKKAIDO UNI, QUAIL EGG, and IKURA. The HOKKAIDO UNI and IKURA were both delicious. The quail egg, I’m not a huge fan of though. Remember the fun story about my man and quail eggs at USHIWAKAMARU? HAHAHA! I laugh every time I think about it! Boyfriend LOVED this. I think I would have preferred it with fresh HOTATE in place of the quail egg, but that’s purely personal preference.
- HAMAGURI – I guess there had to be one bad apple… Chef placed this down and said “oyster”. I didn’t understand, and then he said it in Japanese, HAMAGURI. Reason for confusion? HAMAGURI is a clam, not an oyster. Upon tasting it, it was CLEARLY a clam, not an oyster. It was a clam with eel sauce. I didn’t like it at all. It was seriously fishy, the one and only fish of the night that did not taste “fresh”.
- NEGITORO – My third TORO of the night, and still deliciously fresh. What a great half roll to have!
- ANAGO HAND ROLL – If you read my other reviews, you’ll know that I try hard to NOT have any cooked foods. My past experience with this restaurant has taught me NOT to make too many requests, and I already have to make the requests of less rice, and no wasabi, so no go on the “no-cooked-eels” request. This was A LOT of ANAGO though, and it was really good. For the girl who does not want any cooked eels to say this cooked eel roll was “really good”, says A LOT! Time for another funny boyfriend story. Mind you, he’s a very attractive man who’s VERY outgoing. He was sitting next to me, yapping with the girl next to us, and did not at all notice when the chef was presenting him his roll. I nudged him, but he was too busy yapping. Chef waiting for maybe 20-30 seconds, got really irritated, and tossed his roll in the trash. HAHAHAHA! Chef couldn’t give it to me, because I have my less rice and no wasabi request, and he couldn’t wait for boyfriend, as the NORI will start to go soggy, so oh well, garbage it is. Don’t worry, he did get his ANAGO hand roll later. Poor boyfriend, pissing off chefs all over NYC!
- IWASHI – We each had an IWASHI. The Omakase, as delicious as it was, as well rounded as it was, lacked a common fish category, silver fishes. Oh my, was this delicious!
- NODOGURO – NODOGUROs are another of my top three white-fishes. This was served slightly ABURIed, and a touch of soy. I prefer my NODOGURO with a tiny splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and a touch of salt, but this was delicious none the less. We each had one, and then I ordered another round for just me. SO delicious!
- Crab brain – I don’t really have a right to judge this one. I didn’t order it, only the boyfriend. I love crab brain, but I like it with some crab. Having it alone is a little odd, no? Well he loved it.
- KAMASU – We each had a piece of the KAMASU (Barracuda), needed another silver fish after that amazing IWASHI! I loved that he served this with just a little bit of shave ginger, and no scallions. I think that ginger/scallion combo is overrated. I prefer just the ginger! This was delicious!
- KINMEDAI – I NEEDED to do another round of KINMEDAI. We had the head chef serve us all night, but this particular fish, was provided by another chef (not Oona Tempest, the lady, but the gentlemen). Just like Chef Toshi, he ABURIed it only a little bit, but he did serve it with a tiny bit of sea salt. I liked this one even better than the first. WOW!
- “Triple X” – Boyfriend did another round of the Triple X. He loved it just like he loved the first one. I was happier with my KINMEDAI.
To be completely objective, I should probably comment on the overall experience. The word of the day is RUSH! I think I talked about that enough though, so let’s talk abt the other aspects. If you’re looking to sit down, enjoy, relax, this isn’t the place. This reminds me of the sushi-yas at the Tsujiki Fish market in Tokyo. The kind that is open from 5AM to 11AM. The kind that squeezes you in, seats you in a tiny stool, gives you just a cup of water, and that’s about it. It sounds negative, which is why I didn’t want to talk about it, but honestly, other than the rush, none of the other “perceived negative” aspects bother me. We had a total of 15 different kinds of fish, all except for one (the clam), was incredibly fresh, and absolutely delicious. If they weren’t such a pain to get into, if they were downtown, we could easily become regulars here!
The cost is very confusing though. I lost our itemized bill, but the math is fairly simple, so let’s just work backwards. Our total pre-tip bill was $304.85. NYC charges a food tax at 8.875%, so that means my total bill before tax was $280. We have two options on how to calculate total costs, by looking at the omakase separate from the individual, OR by the blended overall price, as I know exactly how many add-ons we requested. We ordered a total of 5 piece each in add-ons. So if we just average it out that’s 12+5= 17 total pieces, for a total of $140 per person, thus $8.23 per piece. NOTE – if we did the math the other way, website says it’s ROUGHLY 75-85 for winter omakase, for 10 pieces, ½ roll, and 1 hand roll. Let’s assume smack in the middle, $80 for 12 pieces, thus $6.66 per piece. Remember that our total bill before tax was 280. If the omakases alone were $160, that meant that the 10 add ons were $120, which means $12 per piece, WOWZERS! Given that 12 pieces of fish gets NO ONE full, let’s just use the first formula, the blended rate.