Soto… and the final verdict on the best sushi restaurant in NYC

Soto was the final contender. It’s a favorite of many of the people I talked to.

As usual, the entrance was nondescript and I blew right by it.

The staff had trouble understanding our questions, so we thought maybe it was safest to order instead of going with the omakase.

Chawanmushi 6.5/10: I decided to find out how other places make chawanmushi when Brushstroke’s was so good, and Yasuda’s was so inedible. This was right in between. It was rustic and a little smokey with sliced mushrooms, shrimp, and chicken. The egg was too mild, and the liquid base was a chicken broth, which wasn’t as good as Brushstroke’s dashi broth.

Sea urchin tempura with sea urchin powder 5/10: It wasn’t the best way to make sea urchin. I was overly encouraged by the cooked sea urchin I had at Ichimura. My friend said that it tasted like a really soft funnel cake… and I agree.

Why was there a piece to the side teetering on the edge of the plate? How uncharacteristic of a top sushi restaurant…

Uni with ponzu 9/10: Much more traditional. Very fresh urchin.

Sea trout carpaccio with chives, caviar, and truffle oil. 10/10: This dish was completely over the top and delicious. The greens were salty, vinegary, and slightly bitter. The fish was creamy and soft.

Soft shell crab 10/10: I thought that they would not be in season at all! Maybe that’s why it’s so meaty? But the shell was as soft as ever! Maybe there’s a crab aquarium in the back.

Salmon on top, Sea trout on the bottom. Totally delicious. I was a little confused why the salmon was cut in 2 different ways… one was cross grain, and the other was along the grain, but I’m sure that it did not change the flavor.

Jack fish on top and seared salmon on the bottom. The jackfish was mild and very well done, but it wasn’t quite as interesting as jackfish at other restaurants. Perhaps it’s a different part of the fish? The seared salmon was good.
O-toro 10/10 as usual, but was it the best during my sushi tour? Not quite.
I didn’t end up ordering too many pieces of sushi, because the sushi list was honestly a little short.
Best roll of my sushi tour. Tuna tartare with sesame, pine nuts, avocado, possibly some jalapenos, all wrapped in a lightly flavored and slightly salted kelp. 10/10: It’s jammed packed with flavor but it all worked and was very exciting to eat!

We were pretty much told that we’re having mochi ice cream for dessert, which is fine and all, but where are the other halves?

Mango, red bean, green tea, vanilla, and strawberry. We wanted to share so we asked for a knife.

They kindly gave us this tiny dull spatula. Between that and the tiny fork, I was able to get the job done.
Overall, Soto was delicious. I would absolutely go back with friends, but I felt that everything was too safe. None of the dishes really wow’ed me.
**DRUMROLL***
I must declare a winner in this search for the best sushi restaurant, and it’s…
SUSHI YASUDA!!
Judging from sushi ALONE. They had the best sushi – perfect in cut, flavor, temperature, and rice. Everything was insanely fresh, and did not need any extra condiments. Yasuda’s sushi is minimalist, subtle, and elegant.
One note though – do NOT order anything else. The other dishes were pretty bad.
The other contenders were not without their merits. Every one of the sushi restaurants: Neta, Sasabune, Ichimura, and Soto were good. Neta and Soto had more creative (and edible) entrees. Ichimura had the most interesting fish selection. Sasabune had great shellfish (I can’t quite say that it’s the best because I did not have shellfish at Soto).
Now I know a lot of you readers like other restaurants better, but this is my opinion, and if your favorite restaurant had an off day when I visited, then it’s their fault. If you want to prove me wrong, I’m open to dining invitations.
Onto the next challenge!

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