Sushi spots are as common in Manhattan as delis and pizza parlors, peppering blocks from Tribeca to Spanish Harlem. Yet, as most of us know, how good a sushi place is can vary from divine to truly abominable. Tomoe Sushi, Sushi Yasuda, the big box spots like Megu and Nobu – these names are well known as the city’s top spots to get fresh fish. Now, there’s another name to consider: SUteiShi, a modern and expensive newcomer to the South Street Seaport.
On a quiet cobblestoned street with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, SUteiShi is a modestly-sized two room sushi star that you would only stumble upon if you were expressly looking for it. The front room is contemporary and cool with large airy windows, modern chandeliers, and blue tone walls; the back room is firey red with dark wood tables spilling through open french doors onto the sidewalk and a petite sushi bar. The looks are different, but the feel is the same – upscale, relaxed, and simple.
Like most serious sushi restaurants though, the decor comes a distant second to the quality of the food. And at SUteiShi, where the grub comes for top dollar, you get what you pay for. The sushi and sashimi is super fresh; the big eye tuna is so tender and buoyant that it melts in your mouth; the mackerel is slightly chewy, with a salty skin and soft underbelly; the toro is good enough for swooning, supple and mellow-flavored, utterly luxurious in an otherwise standard maki roll; salmon is bright pink and moist – no dry orange crap here; mild white fluke comes thin and ‘fusion-style’ with rich purply plum sauce. Aside from classic sushi and sashimi menus, SUteiShi offers a plethora of complex ‘belly-licious’ special rolls, ranging from the ‘Blue Lagoon’ with portabello mushroom tempura, campyo and eel on top to the ‘Angelfish,’ a delightful spicy white tuna roll with mango and white tuna on top to the SUteiShi Pearl, a rich roll stuffed with fried oysters, spicy mayo, and kani on top.
While the name clearly indicates a passion for sushi, SUteiShi also offers hot dishes, including noodles, teriyaki, grilled black cod with miso, tempura, and soups. The Kakiage Udon, a soup noodle dish, stands out with plump udon noodles, a delightful savory broth, and an utterly scrumptious white fish and shrimp pancake that’s meant to be crushed and sprinkled over the soup. While good and belly-warming, I’d still recommend sticking with what SUteiShi does best: sushi.
While not as well known as Tomoe or Sushi Yasuda or as over the top as Masa, SUteiShi shows that you can be both the new underdog on the sushi scene (with a rather out of the way location) and pretty freaking wonderful. Service can be uneven, so don’t expect a quick in-and-out, but trust me when I say that what SUteiShi has to offer is worth the wait.
Perfect For: business lunch, fresh fish all week long, top-notch sushi without the wait, dining solo, scoping out FiDi’s surprisingly good-looking populace, sake shenanigans, sushi-lovers date night