After 40 years of working at NYC sushi restaurants, the chef at Sushi Jin has enough material to start a weekly gossip column. He knows which chefs are leaving their restaurants, which places have slipped from greatness, who doesn’t serve their fish at the right temperature, and where you should go next. He’s the sushi godfather of the Upper East Side, and while you’re at the Sushi Jin counter, you’re officially part of his crew. For a little over an hour, he’ll feed you piece after piece of delicious fish, and you’ll feel like a member of his exclusive sushi club.
Sushi Jin offers two high-end tastings for around $100, which puts it in the same price bracket as a few other spots on the UES (namely Sushi Ishikawa and Tanoshi Sushi). The $95 option comes with an appetizer, 12 pieces of sushi, soup, dessert, and green tea. For $125, you get all of that, plus an extra appetizer and three more pieces of sushi. You’re paying for the excellent fish and the insider experience the chef provides, not necessarily the space. All you need to know about the room is that there’s a framed photo of a dog on the wall and that you should get your butt in one of the twelve seats closest to the chef.
The selection at Sushi Jin changes based on whatever the chef gets excited about that day, but some unusual pieces might include a subtly sweet cherry seabream, giant squid that tastes as creamy as a milkshake, and our favorite - a delicate and buttery Japanese tilefish. Tuna always makes at least one cameo, and if you go on Wednesdays, you’ll experience what the chef calls “Tuna Day” (when he gets his sweetest otoro).
Beyond tuna day, and the range of fish, come to Sushi Jin so the sushi godfather can take care of you like you’re his cousin’s favorite tailor. We once watched him build a piece of miso-cured sujiko (salmon roe still in its sack). Just as he finished explaining that the piece is only fresh for three weeks out of the year, an indie acoustic cover of “Yesterday” by The Beatles started to play from the speakers. His arms swung back and forth dramatically as he sculpted a red vinegar rice ball, and then finally onto our plate like he was transferring a newborn from a crib.
While you might have cheaper or more deluxe omakase experiences elsewhere in the city, no one will make you feel as taken care of as the chef at Sushi Jin.