251 W 55th St, New York, NY | Directions 1001940.765223 -73.983169
Neighborhoods: Clinton, Midtown
Kaiseki isn't for everybody. The most intricate, subtle, exquisite and demanding form of Japanese cookery requires great patience, respect, and a willingness to pay a lot of money for many courses of not-especially-filling food. Descended from the even more complicated tea ceremony, kaiseki restauants, of which Sugiyama is the preeminent example, serve a series of delicate and tiny dishes to diners of a certain temperament. The flavors aren't bold and the portions aren't big, and you have to sit there forever, but for the truly discerning it can be a glimpse of paradise.
Perfect – Exquisite food, perfect service. Atmosphere is basic but calm and pleasant. Lived up to the hype, and worth every penny. Brought boyfriend there for dinner -- he had the modern 8 course omakase with kobe -- and he's still talking about the meal.
Excellent upscale Japanese Restaurant – If you want to taste true (non-family style) Japanese food, this is it. They use finest ingredients from all over the world and cook them with excellent skill. You might feel it a little expensive and indeed it is, but you have to pay twice if you were to eat the same food in Tokyo. I strongly recommend this place.
tasty seafood – I came here on the recommendation of an American friend who lived in Japan for a year. The place has a wonderful combination of intimacy, ambience, service and quality food.
My friend and I ordered the grilled fish and left our dining experience in the hands of a master.
The dishes came out at a steady pace, and our server was so cute and sensitive to our needs. Each dish was beautiful, elegant and delicious. At the end of the meal, I was totally satisfied with a culinary experience that was delightful both visually and gustatorily.
Way Bad – This restaurant was recommended by a friend who I believe has a sophisticated palate. Boy was I disappointed. Having recently had a meal of a lifetime at Nobu I was hoping for more of the luxury shown there. I cannot tell you how bad this place is. Five of us ordered the $160 meal which had six or seven courses. All bad. We could not wait for it to be over. To top it off the wait staff was rude. Please do not waste your money. I have enjoyed sushi and Japanese food around the world and this was the worst. I have had better sushi at cheap rotating carousels in San Francisco and in Melbourne.
Not good enough – We scheduled a 6pm reservation, and arrived fifteen minutes early to an empty restaurant. Apparently my family isn't good enough for Sugiyama - we were told that the food was "too hot" for children, that they require a quiet atmosphere, and to please leave. My daughters can handle omakase at the bar with Yasuda-san, nine courses at Per Se, but now I'm told that kaiseke is out of their reach. That's unfortunate for Sugiyama, as I will make sure never to return.
A truly special experience – Sugiyama is a diamond in the rough. I would never have expected such a unique restaurant of this caliber in this neighborhood, behind its unassuming exterior. The dining experience is also of unparalleled value, if I recall correctly, the 8 course tasting menu is under $70 and so delightful. Everything was delicious and beautifully presented. The service was exactly on point and not fussy. The server explained each course in detail as it was served and also suggested the best way in which to enjoy them.
The sashimi course is served with an oyster and accented with gold foil. In one of the later courses, red hot stones are brought to the table and guests are able to sear their choice of beef or seafood. Dessert is a grapefruit wine jelly with cream... it sounds bizarre but is absolutely indulgent. This place has been one of the top finds in the city.
A side note... this dining experience is not one for the timid. There is no a la carte option on the menu, you choose the number of courses and the rest is left in the capable chef's hands. Some notable eats have been peekytoe crabs (a small crab that you eat in its entirety, shell and all), a clear soup with little white fish and whole baby octopus.
great and unforgettable food – I was in Sugiyama last year. As I just browsing and see their restaurant in the list. I can help but to remember how great their food and service. The lobster, sea urchin, even the way they do the tomato is unbelievable. You go try for yourself.
Perhaps it gets better – We came here for dinner. A reservation was absolutely necessary as the place was packed. I have been told that the expensive $150+ Kaiseki dinners here are amazing. I cannot speak to that. We had the $68 - 8 course Kaiseki. I must say that I can understand why some people rave about this restaurant. To a New Yorker with adventurous tastes, this restaurant can be fresh and exciting. However, the 8 course Kaiseki here is no different from a typical meal of this type for which I paid just over half the price in Japan. You do get some more expensive items such as Monkfish liver and Sea Urchin. However, overall, I would consider this an average Japanese meal for Japan, albeit an above average one for New York. I would suggest taking the beef on the hot stone over the seafood option. The service has been mostly effective, though not everyone spoke English and some of our orders were misunderstood. They were also a touch slow to refill the tea. I might try to Omakase Kaiseki on some special occasion. However, I won't be back for the regular menu. Still, I can recommend that those who love Japanese food or have nostalgia for Japan try this place once.
Best Japanese in NYC – First, let me explain this restaurant if you haven't been there. This is NOT a sushi place, its a kaiseki restaurant. Basically all items on the menu are variations of a tasting menu: several smaller dishes. Also, the flavors will not always be familar to someone with standard, unadventurous western palette.
Ok, so now that that is out the way, this is *such* an incredible restaurant if you understand and enjoy japanese flavors. The sashimi course is hands down the best in NYC, with much of the fish flown in from japan that day. The lobster with uni is glorious. The beef seared on the rock so satisfying and delicious, with the meat just needing the slightest of searing. The broth courses are perfected (the other chef actually makes the soups -- he just keeps getting better and better). The first course is usually a monk fish liver pate, and other treats. Last time we went it was blowfish milt. That is basically fish testicle. Think its gross? It was amazing, smooth and creamy. Where the hell else are you going to get something like that in NYC? Ironically the sushi course, although good, is the weakest course, so go for the 6 course if you want to eat a little less since it doesnt have the sushi course. I've eaten at Masa and there is no comparison to the sushi there -- that is the best ever-- but I would say that all the other food at Sugiyama is better than Masa.
Someone said they weren't full after eating the 8 course. That is ABSURD. I have a big appetite, male, and finishing the 8 course makes me feel like I'm going to explode. it is a lot of food.
Granted the decor is not going to win any interior decorating awards, although it is tasteful. Staff is excellent and friendly. Sitting at the bar is highly recommended.
Such a great place! – I live in the area and have been there many times over the past year. I love this place! The food is great and the service is impeccable. I cant wait to go back!
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