Nakaji (Sushi) - Chinatown

New omakase joint from Sushi Den alum Kunihide “Nakaji” Nakajima. Seems to have a loyal following among the local sushi fiends.

https://www.nakajinyc.com/chef-story

Just got to NYC and was thinking of heading there tonight or to Kawi where I have been dreaming about the foie gras Kimbap, but instead I chose wrong.

Staying at the Kitano, so I thought why not just go downstairs and eat at Hakubai, the Japanese restaurant at the hotel? The restaurant was empty, but that didn’t phase me because the hotel caters to the Japanese and I know travel from Asia is way down. Strange setup. No sushi bar, but there is a 6 seat quasi bar that sits strangely in a corner of the restaurant. On one side there are chairs and on the other side is an aisle. It was kind of depressing sitting by myself at an empty bar in an empty restaurant, but I hoped for the best. After all it’s a Japanese owned hotel, how bad could it be?

Started with tuna and natto appetizer. Some chunks of flavorless tuna and some unseasoned natto. Not a good start. Then got combo sushi sashimi combo for $85. The fish wasn’t the absolute worst I have ever had, but it was the worst sushi I’ve had in several years. The rice I can confidently say is the worst sushi rice I’ve ever had in my entire life. The only way I can describe the rice was gummy.

After dinner I wanted sencha, but they only had bancha.

Everything was served by women in kimono. I really felt like I was in a high class version of the Saturday Night Live skit about sushi at LaGuardia.

Should have gotten into a cab or ordered from somewhere. So sad to waste a perfectly nice evening in New York.

Oh bummer sorry to hear that. I had a very good kaiseki dinner at Hakubai ages ago; looks like not worth visiting now. Surprised given it’s a Japanese hotel chain

Maybe they save the good stuff for the Kaiseki dinners and figure that only a rube would order off the menu, so they’ll give them days old sushi and refrigerated rice from last week. The rice was truly the worst sushi rice I’ve ever had. And the tea was low quality. The place is just baffling.

For future reference (reopening April); an old school Japanese restaurant in Mid-town east. This was highly recommended by a local Japanese expat for comfort food - he noted the Buta Kakuni is very good. Been meaning to check it out.

Yes, I remember Nippon from my youth!

Not having learned my lesson from dinner at Hakubai, yesterday I wasted $30 for Japanese buffet breakfast at the Kitano. Many fond memories of Japanese buffet breakfasts in Japan, but this was the McDonalds’ version or worse. Rice in a rice maker and the waiter brought me a tiny, dried out piece of salmon and some miso that tasted like it came straight from a mix. The packaged strips of nori were okay, as were the Japanese pickles. The Western style breakfast pastries were straight from the bodega. Really shocked at the quality of food at New York’s only Japanese owned hotel.

Sounds very authentic for a Japanese hotel–a business hotel :grin:

I had good breakfast at Japanese business hotels in Japan. I forgot to mention that natto was served by having a bunch of stacked styrofoam containers. I felt I could have saved $30 and just went to the Japanese supermarket and bought my own styrofoam container of natto.

The breakfast you describe (including the stacked Styrofoam natto and mass-produced pastries) is exactly what I have had at many Japanese business hotels (Keio, MyStays).

I think the problem is that this breakfast is usually included at the business hotels in Japan, so expectations are low. The breakfast is more utilitarian. It seems like Kitano is trying to market Hakubai as a fancy Kaiseki restaurant, so expectations are high.

Was Hakubai’s breakfast expensive? Edit: Nevermind. Just saw $30.

Maybe you are right. Now I remember we stayed at a business hotel in Tokyo that was adjacent to a “fancier” sister hotel next door and we would go the fancier hotel next door for breakfast, joking “here come the Beverly Hills hillbillies.”

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@Starchtrade Kitano is billed as a 4* hotel, one would expect something a little better I think. And Hakubai really was once a very good restaurant in NYC - personal experience & Ruth Reichl’s https://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/16/arts/restaurants-858650.html

@Omotesando fyi
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It’s sad about Hakubai. I wasn’t expecting transcendent, but I thought it would just be a nice traditional Japanese experience.

It’s sad to be staying at a Japanese hotel and refusing to eat at the hotel. Oh well, I appreciate the tea maker in the room just like every hotel in Japan and luckily I was smart enough to bring my own tea because not surprisingly the hotel offers the lowest quality tea.