Tucked away on the second story of a plain Midtown building, Kuruma Zushi is a secret piscine palace for the discerning. Diners enter the nondescript edifice and ride up a cramped and dodgy elevator to access the quiet, understated hideaway where chef Toshihiro Uezu has been serving top-of-the-line, traditional sushi since 1977.
The menu appears rather ordinary, with nigiri ranging from $3 to $12 per piece, until you read the part that says "Toro Caviar: Very Fatty Tuna Tartare with Russian Beluga Caviar & Scallion–$150-$200" and gasp!
Simply because I had never seen it as a nigiri option, I asked for the $3 single-piece squid tentacle sushi. Aside from decently seasoned sushi rice and the band of nori, the squid itself did not have much of a taste at all. The single piece of fluke sushi, which was $5, was tasty but not tasty enough to keep me from asking for a saucer of ponzu sauce to accompany it. The kampyo and ume-shiso hand rolls I tried were enfolded traditionally as well–more cylindrical than conical in shape, and with a small flap of seaweed around the bottom to hold it in place.
The service is unsmilingly, rigorously stiff; the atmosphere daunting. The waitress stands right behind your seat at the sushi bar and watches your every move, but perhaps it should have been interpreted as courtesy, as perhaps she were simply standing in attendance, suggesting she was at my beck and call?
7 East 47th Street, New York, NY