- scene: Quiet, elegant and casual, a premium sushi bar experience
- sip: Sake to me
- savor: Omakase
- sit: With you fish loving friend; I don't recommend a group of more than 3 at the sushi bar because it is hard to talk to each other all in a row
- spend: $$$$
- address: 220 West 13th Street
- phone number: (212)727-1709
- website: www.kosakanyc.com
The Pants eat a lot of sushi, as you know, and sitting at sushi bars is one of our favorite things to do together. Some of the outstanding places we have been have not made it on to the site (Tanoshi, Cagen) simply because it is difficult to describe the nuances of every well cut piece of sushi throughout the course of a lengthy omakase. There are only so many times you can say “melt in your mouth”, or “fish so fresh it still tastes of the very waters it was pulled from” or “perfectly textured rice”, etc. When an omakase is outstanding, every piece satisfies and astounds, and that is the bottom line.
Kosaka, a newcomer in the West Village is worth talking about, even if I stop short of describing every piece of fish, with the exception of some stand-outs. The concept is not novel: omakase- only sushi spot featuring 10 seats around a sushi bar, Kosaka offers two options (sushi only, or a chef’s tasting of sushi and hot dishes) that are priced at $145 and $175 respectively. (Note: the second option will actually not be available until early January.) Kosaka set itself apart largely due to the level of service we received; there were several managers on hand to educate us about certain fish throughout the meal, and everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating. The food was exceptional, the fish delicate and well presented. Subtle touches included two different presentations of ginger, the usual pieced ginger and a sturdier, thicker sliced version, which I loved.
Like many other sushi places, Kosaka’s appeal lies largely in the pedigree of its chef; in this case, head chef Yoshihiko Kousaka, formerly ofJewel Bako. Daryl and I were seated with the other chef that evening, having requested our reservation 20 minutes before showing up. Our excitement to try Kosaka and quick turnaround time from hopeful dialing to being granted a reservation left us little time to think about anything, let alone allow us the opportunity for any special requests. Before I say anything else, I want it noted that Kosaka was a fantastic experience, and Mihyun Han is a seasoned manager and understands the value of hospitality; we enjoyed every piece that was presented to us, and our chef was friendly and charming as well as capable and skilled. Fun fact: We learned that the pinker the kanburi, the better, because it means that it was wild, and not farmed.
My question is this: If the prices dictated by an establishment are set in large part by the experience provided by one name, should you pay the same price if you are served by another chef? This is a sushi specific question, because I realize when I go to a Jean Georges restaurant he is not in the kitchen every night; I also realize that the quality of the fish, and many other factors set the price of a menu, but there is still a question to be asked regarding scaling the pricing to the sushi chef. My example is this: If you go to Sally Hershberger’s salon, you know that anyone working at the salon has been properly trained, and has their own abilities and quirks that makes them a talented stylist in their own right. However, you will be charged more for any service with the actual Sally Hershberger than anyone else on her team, no matter how good they are. You are still treated to the same luxury salon experience, still draped in the silk robes and shampooed with the same products, but tended to by someone whose name is not on the sign. Shouldn’t you pay a little less for sitting with another sushi chef rather than the marquee name? I think it is an interesting thing to think about…
We will definitely be back to Kosaka, and will request this time to sit with Yoshihiko, if for no other reason than to see how the experience varies. We in no way feel cheated, or that we had a lesser experience with our chef, but with only two chefs and two menu options, we had some questions. See photos for mouthwatering pictures of some of the pieces we enjoyed.