The Best Sushi in New York in an Unexpected Place

If it weren’t for the cost and our own inability to make it, Chandra and I would have no problem eating Japanese food every single day. It’s by far our favorite cuisine  and for that reason we are always on the look out for truly delicious sushi. For a city with nearly as many sushi restaurants as drug stores, you’d think we would have a short-list of the best places throughout Manhattan. You’d be wrong. Sure there are a couple places that are pretty good, but the absolute best sushi in New York is not in the city at all, but out on Long Island in a town called Syosset.

Chandra diving right in

Chandra diving right in

THE LOCATION

Arata Sushi, at 18 Cold Spring Road in Syosset, is consistently the best sushi we’ve ever enjoyed. Nearly an hour from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad, Arata sits within walking distance of the Syosset train stop in an inconspicuous strip-mall beside a dry cleaners with a partially unlit sign. The restaurant’s humble exterior opens onto a stylish interior that may make you momentarily forget you’ve left the city behind. Flashy New Yorkers pack the small space and when it’s full, the noise level can approach that of a popular NYC bar. If dining alone, or as a couple, grab a seat at the sushi bar and watch the magic unfold before you.

Arata's unsuspecting location - a strip mall in the suburbs

Arata’s unsuspecting location – a strip mall in the suburbs

See that wave painting on the left? It symbolizes a wave of delicious sushi coming over that counter

See that wave painting on the left? It symbolizes a wave of delicious sushi coming over that counter

FIRST-CLASS FRESHNESS 

What truly sets Arata apart is not a particularly innovative menu, or even a particular must-have dish. The real difference is in the freshness. One bite of anything on the menu and you understand the difference. These guys are using a quality of ingredient FAR above that of their competition and it’s evident with every single bite. Since my Dad works in the Fulton Fish Market, I often have him ask around when it comes to sushi restaurants to get the inside scoop on where they buy their fish. He confirmed that the product Arata is buying is some of the best and that they are incredibly picky when it comes to quality. When it comes to preparing raw fish, you definitely want to eat someplace that cares more about quality than it does about price.

Sometimes the basics are the best - go for the salmon nigiri

Sometimes the basics are the best – go for the salmon nigiri

Yellowtail Jalapeno Roll

Yellowtail jalapeno roll

OH MY…OMAKASE

If you’re used to just ordering sushi by the piece and old standbys like California rolls, you may not be familiar with “Omakase” sushi. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that basically means “I’ll leave it to you”. This is the way to truly experience Arata. Order Omakase by the number of courses/pieces. Omakase five for example would bring out five different pieces of sushi selected and prepared at the chef’s discretion. What comes out is usually a nigiri style piece of sush that the chefs have gotten pretty creative with. We’ve had everything involved from brussels sprouts to balsamic but no matter how unusual what gets put in front of you may be, it just somehow works. Embrace it.

Three courses of Omakase sushi - Yogurt and jalapeno on tuna, balsamic on yellowtail and brussels sprout pesto on salmon

Three courses of Omakase sushi – Yogurt and jalapeno on tuna, balsamic on yellowtail and brussels sprout pesto on salmon

Tuna on crispy rice on top, five pieces of omakase sushi and two beautiful pieces of salmon sashimi on the right

Tuna on crispy rice on top, five pieces of omakase sushi and two beautiful pieces of salmon sashimi on the right

WHAT TO GET

Try to order dishes that highlight the freshness of the fish. Yes, a spicy tuna roll is delicious but it’s hard to taste the freshness. If you enjoy the classics, load up on pieces of sashimi or our favorite, salmon nigiri. The pieces are so fresh and sweet they don’t even need any soy sauce to enjoy. Otherwise, Traditional PRO and Daniela rolls are two of our favorites.

Traditional PRO at the back, spicy tuna roll on the left, yellowtail jalapeno roll on the right and two pieces of salmon nigiri front and center

Traditional PRO at the back, spicy tuna roll on the left, yellowtail jalapeno roll on the right and two pieces of salmon nigiri front and center

Spicy scallop roll with crunch

Spicy scallop roll with crunch

Before you even ask, Arata had nothing to do with this post and we received nothing to write it. We really just love their sushi that much. What’s your favorite sushi in New York City? Tell us in the comments so we can try it. 

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2 Responses to “The Best Sushi in New York in an Unexpected Place”

  1. GMAC1999
    June 5, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    My favorite sushi place is also in the suburbs, located in a non-descript strip mall in Westfield, NJ. Nagoya Japanese Restaurant, 278 North Avenue E., Westfield NJ. Your description of Arata is almost an exact description of Nagoya, from the focus on fresh fish from the Fulton Market, some more unique and unusual menu offerings, the unassuming location, and even the proximity to the train station (Westfield station on the Raritan Valley Line on NJ Transit). The owner is very friendly and personable, and this place has built up a very dedicated local following, so it is often packed on a Friday or Saturday night. Best bet is to go on a weeknight, or arrive later on a weekend (since this is definitely the burbs and not the city, later means 9PM, not 11PM). Hope you get a chance to try it sometime, and I would love to try Arata sometime too!

    • David DiGregorio
      June 8, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      Thanks for this, this sounds great. Next time we are in the area I will definitely have to check it out. I love these little outside-the-city culinary gems.

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