Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The LG Report Restaurant Review: THE BEST Sushi in NYC

Yama (southwest corner of 17th Street & Irving Place in NYC -- 212.475.0669) has, hands down, the best sushi in New York City.

Bold statement, I know.  But true.

My favorite line in the movie "Jaws" was uttered by Roy Scheider (R.I.P.), playing the skittish shark-hunting sheriff.  Just after he gets his first, wide-eyed look at the humongous shark rising out of the water, he says: "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

After you receive your first order at Yama, you're going to say, "We're gonna need a bigger plate."

The sushi at Yama is BIG, delicious and fresher than a liquored up frat brother on a first date...what more do you need to know?  You could stop reading here, but you'd be cheating yourself out of witticisms and more valuable information.

I've eaten (and severely overpaid for) sushi at Nobu and many other "top" sushi places in this city.  Yama beats them all.  Located in the basement of a building that Washington Irving once (supposedly) called home, Yama has a very unassuming exterior.  In the picture below, you'll see Yama's entrance to the left of the green mailbox.  It looks like nothing more than a dark hole under
 the stairway.  If I had fancy photography software, I'd highlight it for you, but I don't.  Maybe if you'd give me more clicks, I could afford that high-priced software... Anyway, on most nights there's a crowd outside that dark hole, waiting for their name to be called so that they can step down into the gastronomical ecstasy that is the Yama experience.

I don't know what's up with the silver van on the right, but the driver didn't want me to get close enough to identify his plate in the photo.  Cool with me dude, no problemo.

"Yama," in some Eastern religions, is  a deity known as the "god of the dead." He suposedly supervises various hells.  You might be able to get away with nicknaming your boss "Yama" as long as he doesn't use Google.

I've been frequenting this establishment for about 17 years, and only today did I learn the significance of the name.  It could've meant "Sell old fish to stupid yuppies" in Japanese and I wouldn't have known.  But I guess Yama is an appropriate name because waiting for the delights it offers, or, worse yet, not getting them at all, is like being sentenced Hell. 

That's is an overstatement, I know, but I have my literary license in  the glove compartment if you'd like to see it officer.

My friends Jimmy ("Don't Call Me Jimmy") Riely, Chris ("Please Don't Call Me Jimmy, Either") Doyle and Paul  ("I Have No Interesting Nickname") Gobel joined me for our Yama-licious feast. Here's a picture of the trio just after arriving:

Jimmy and Chris have their own headhunting  executive recruiting firm, The Brownstone Group, specializing in the recruitment and placement of financial information sales professionals (http://www.b-stone.com/).  Since they're my friends you'll think I'm biased, but they are great at their jobs. Paulie is a senior executive with F'Real.  Now here's a Valuable LG Report Aside:  Paul's company invented, and manufactures, machinery that uses a unique process to mix up real dairy milkshakes in seconds, cleanly and easily.  I'm not talking bogus "shakes" that you get at fast food places.  Those chemical concoctions contain little or no dairy product (which is not to say that I haven't downed one in a pinch...)  They're called "shakes" on menu boards because there's not enough milk to legally justify that word's use. Paul's company's authentic products are in all WaWa and Sheetz stores, as well as many other convenience stores nationwide.  Just pick out the flavor you want, put the container into the machine, and in seconds you'll have a REAL milkshake.  It's called F'Real for a reason -- it is f'real. I mean for real.  F'real isn't really a word. Anyway, try one next time you have a chance, you won't be disappointed.  They are the Yama sushi of milk shakes.

By the way, all three of these fine fellows are out of their leagues with their wonderful wives. Doreen (Jimmy's), Kristen (Chris's) and Anne (Paul's) are three awesome women and, truth be known, I would've rather that they attended lunch today.  Luckily, nobody reads this blog, so my boys won't be angry with me.

Back to the purported subject of this posting, Yama.  Here's what the menu looks like:

A professional blogger would've had a much clearer image to show you, I know. He gets more clicks and probably has big corporate sponsorship.  Screw him!  That's my thumb in the bottom right corner.  I used to be a professional thumb model (I played the hitchhiker in a bunch of car commercials but was never dismembered, so they weren't that realistic.) I was also, at one time, a professional middle finger model too, but I kep that out of this photo in the hopes of attracting, and not driving away, readers for this blog.

Just take my word for it, Yama's selection is better than good, and the food is awesome. Awesome.  For a look at the complete menu....go to Yama on 17th and Irving; I couldn't find the menu on the internet.

You'll see Chris below as he awaited his lunch today.  He was working up a man-sized hunger and getting psyched to tuck into his superior sushi selection.  Paul, as you can see on the right, has no manners and started eating before Chris was served.  I love Paul, but he has poorer table manners than a boarding house hobo. I guess he wanted to start eating before his sushi got cold.  This is a classic "Goofus and Gallant" situation from those "Highlights" magazines in the dentist's waiting room when we were kids.  Guess who's who in this picture?   

Chris's son Matt, who I've mentored and tutored extensively over the years, was just admitted into Williams College.  When I first met him he was a poor student and a nose-picker.  Williams is one of the most competitive colleges in the country; tougher, many say, than any of the Ivies. 

Congrats Matt from everyone at The LG Report! 

PS: I was just kidding about the tutoring and nose-picking part.  I've only met Matt a few times, when he was much younger, but you can't blame me for trying to grab some of the credit.  Getting into Williams is an impressive accomplishment.  I can't wait to crash his frat parties...for blogging purposes only, of course. I hope the other frat members aren't as rude as Paul.

So what exactly are you getting when you dine at Yama?  I will let the food speak for itself.  Wait, since the fish can't really speak (they're dead, so even if they could, they couldn't), here are photos of two of our orders:

The sushi is so fresh that you expect to find a harpoon in it (or strands of a net, or part of whatever they use to catch these tasty treats...)

Another Valuable LG Report Tip: Order a side of spicy mayo and dip your sushi into it.  It's the best spicy mayo anywhere on Earth. I've tried to buy containers, but they won't sell it.  If nothing else, the spicy mayo alone will keep you coming back.

The bottom line: if you like sushi, you'll love Yama.  Tell Mickey, the maitre 'd, that Larry sent you.  He'll say "Ah, Larry..." and then sit you at the same table you would've gotten anyway.   Until next time kidz...


  1. Thanks for being f'real LG.

  2. Scumknuckle,

    The side of spicy mayo and Sally Krawcheck are both my idea.

  3. Larry,

    Why would you do this to me??? Now all I want is to try Yama sushi. How will I ever satisfy my craving? I think I'm making sushi tonight - but I can't come close to what I see in those pictures. Yum. Ask them for the spicy mayo recipe and I'll try to make some. Next time I'm in NY I'm going straight to Yama. ^Maria T


The LG Report appreciates all comments, thanks for taking the time; Karma will probably award you a winning lotter ticket or something. The "or something" being more likely. But thanks again!