- Cost: $195, before drinks, tax, and tip
- Size: 10 seats at counter, plus one table for 4
- Style: Otsumami + sushi
- Reserved: 2 weeks in advance
Ichimura is a sushi counter that sits adjacent to David Bouley's Brushstroke, a more kaiseki-focused Japanese restaurant. Eiji Ichimura formerly ran his own restaurant in Midtown East, which gained quite a bit of under-the-radar acclaim in its own right, and which closed during the 2008-2009 recession. It appears that Bouley recruited Ichimura-san for a second act in what was originally Brushstroke's bar/waiting area but which now is basically a separate restaurant.
The style of omakase at Ichimura adheres pretty closely to what one might expect in Japan. A plate of otsumami showcases the chef's technique (but perhaps lack of plating ability), and includes some seldom-seen items like house-cured uni and kazunoko. This is followed by a small chawanmushi prepared in the Brushstroke kitchen, which in my experience is the best I've tasted in New York.
The nigiri are somewhat rough-hewn, on the larger side, and irregularly shaped; the shari is moderately seasoned. Overall, this is a unique balance of flavor and style, especially when compared against other top-notch sushiya in New York. In some respects, Ichimura-san's style of preparing neta and nigiri is more evocative of a "traditional"-style Tokyo sushiya than any other shop I've encountered in America.
Subtle touches are also notable, like house-cured gari and myoga (reminiscent of my experience at Umi in Tokyo) and a thicker, dashi-rich tsume on the anago. Ichimura is also the only sushiya in New York where I've seen labor-intensive items like 10-day aged otoro, or types of hikari mono aged even longer.
I was lucky enough to visit Ichimura before it received a glowing 3-star New York Times review, and have been several times after. I am not a regular there, but can't help the feeling that over time some of the more unique flourishes that evoked my experiences in Tokyo (like aged fish, and some rarer shiromi) have disappeared in favor of "crowd pleasers" more aimed at satisfying the well-heeled Tribeca clientele (for example, Ichimura-san is now famous for serving a nigiri piled with 3-4 slices of otoro). This fact seems to be supported by the price inflation of omakase (from $130 two years ago to $195 today), which puts it towards the high end of the range for New York sushiya.
Regardless, in my book Ichimura is definitely one of the best sushiya in New York, and a unique experience worth a visit.
Ichimura at Brushstroke
30 Hudson St., New York