One of my favorite sushi restaurants--which happens to be in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side--is Sushi Yasaka, a modest Japanese restaurant that has an authentic feel. No neon lights or sushi happy hour appetizers. Just simple white walls, wooden tables, and an L-shaped sushi bar, run by Japanese sushi chefs.
Sushi Yasaka may not be the place you come to for the ever-so popular Dynamite Roll. As I mentioned, it's more authentic. I have been there several times and always order the Mini Omakase ($24), an assortment of the chef's recommendation. Don't expect your typical tuna, rather think of buttery yellowtail with a delicate slice of jalapeño, or Japanese snapper with crispy garlic flakes, or Californian sea urchin.
Other dishes we love are the Spicy Scallop Roll, which is chock full of raw baby scallops and a spicy mayonnaise concoction that you could die for.
Other sushi favorites are the simple rolls, like the Salmon Avocado Roll, which is a marvelous mix of richness. One roll that was a disappointment was the Geisha Girl Roll, a huge hand roll with a tempura crust and a tuna fish salad-like filling. Go for the Spicy Tuna Roll instead.
In terms of appetizers, I'd recommend the Small Salad, a $4 bowl of mixed greens and a sharp ginger dressing--no iceberg lettuce here. I also love the fried Pork Gyoza.The outer skin is fried to a perfect crisp, and when gently dipped into the dipping sauce, a combustion of salty goodness explodes in your mouth. My only complaint was I wish there were more pork filling.
The Toro Tartare is a tuna appetizer featuring a dish full of toro tuna with a quail egg on top that you gently fold in. Fried nori chips are served on the side to scoop up the rich goodness and there is a little side of wasabi tobiko mayo to finish off the dish. This appetizer just needs more nori chips to even out the proportions.
Next time you're looking for quality sushi, venture up to the Upper West Side. To me, Sushi Yasaka is more than a neighborhood sushi joint, it's a jewel in the crown. Or the ginger in my soy sauce.