About two years ago on a trip to LA, my hometown, one of my childhood friends suggested that we try her favorite sushi place for dinner, Sugarfish. Soon, we were sitting in a crowded, minimalist restaurant eating the most delicious sushi I had ever had. Each piece contained a selection of the freshest fish expertly shaped and flavored to practically dance in your mouth.

nigiri, seafood, fish, rice, wasabi, tuna, sashimi, salmon, sushi
Rachel Hellman

Later, I would find out that the restaurant was all the rage in LA. Celebrity appearances had made it part of the "it" scene, and it had received much praise from food critics. Alas, since moving to New York a few years ago, I'd quickly lost all hopes of being able to eat at Sugarfish again anytime soon. 

Fast forward two years, and I find myself reading online that Sugarfish would be opening its first restaurant outside of LA in New York City! You can imagine that I was pumped. Here was my chance to get my hands on some incredibly delicious Sugarfish sushi right here in New York. 

The Hype

Before going to the restaurant, I'd heard many rumors about just how popular the new location had quickly become. During its first week open in early November 2016, there was a continuous line that snaked around the block packed with eager foodies excited to find out what all the buzz was about. With virtually no advertising (and no reservations allowed), the restaurant has managed to keep up a waitlist for lunch and dinner every day since its opening.

Waiting in Line

pizza, beer
Rachel Hellman

I finally went to Sugarfish NY over winter break on a Thursday for lunch, a time that doesn't usually warrant long lines. But when I walked in the cozy yet modern restaurant, it was totally packed, and there were at least ten people sitting in the waiting area. The host told me that the wait would be anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour long. Not bad for a restaurant with so much hype—but, it was still a little startling to me for a random Thursday afternoon.

Luckily, Sugarfish NY has adopted an automated system so that you do not have to wait in the restaurant itself for your name to be called. After giving my cell number to the host, I was free to walk around the trendy surrounding Flatiron neighborhood until I received a text saying that we were near the top of the list and should head back. 

Although the host said it could take up to an hour to get a table for two people, I was pleasantly surprised when I got a text saying a table was ready after only thirty minutes. Once we checked back in at the restaurant, we were also seated immediately. Not too bad after all!

The Restaurant

stout, coffee, wine, beer
Rachel Hellman

The interior of the new Sugarfish is practically a carbon copy of the LA restaurant, except for a more rectangular and slightly larger shape. It also has the same dark, minimalistic and traditionally inspired atmosphere, allowing the food to take center stage.

The Menu

beans, beer, tea, coffee
Rachel Hellman

Perhaps one of the greatest parts of Sugarfish is the "Trust Me" option on the menu. This set menu allows guests to have a transformative sushi experience without having to worry about what to order. Eight rounds of sushi and sashimi are brought out, timed perfectly to allow the guest to enjoy each piece of sushi for what it is. 

wasabi, seafood, nigiri, salmon, fish, sashimi, tuna, sushi
Rachel Hellman

The New York and L.A. "Trust Me" menus are exactly the same with two exceptions: the New York version has Hirame Sushi instead of Halibut Sushi, and the New York version costs $33 instead of $27.

The Food

meat, seafood, tuna, dairy product, tuna tartare, vegetable, fish
Rachel Hellman

I can say truthfully that the sushi and sashimi from the New York location of Sugarfish are just as good as from the original restaurant. Both restaurants use traditional sushi-making methods to perfect simple and mouthwatering dishes. The tuna sashimi is tender and tangy; the salmon sushi contrasts warm sticky rice with soft, fresh fish; and the blue crab hand roll is a mix of distinctly crisp crab taste with a salty seaweed wrap.

fish, wasabi, nori, rice, sushi
Rachel Hellman

Overall, the food stands up to the hype. Sugarfish NY most definitely gets my stamp of approval, as both a sushi lover and longtime Sugarfish fan. Although the wait may be annoying (but not so much if you go at an off time!), Chef Nozawa, Sugarfish's founder, certainly has a gift for creating incredible sushi—and now, it's finally available for people on the East Coast, too.