Kunihide Nakajima – aka “Nakaji” – has bounced around the NYC sushi scene over the years, from his old Midtown mainstay Sushiden to his role as executive chef at Harlem’s Michelin-starred Sushi Inoue. But the sailor-turned-restaurateur’s latest venture, the intimate, wood-accented Nakaji in Chinatown’s Canal Arcade at 48 Bowery, is perhaps his most ambitious. Opened in March 2020, a few weeks before the city’s lockdown, it’s already a must-visit for those in the know – a 10 seat chef’s counter offering curated omakase sushi meals for $225.
Tucked away in the canal alleyway between Bowery and Elizabeth Streets, Nakaji opens into a bar area with adjustable dividers that make it easy to separate parties when needed. A quick ring of the doorbell reveals the space’s 10-seat chef’s counter and beautiful lighting. The room is a departure from many of the more gimmicky upscale sushi spots in the city, with a focus on seasonal fish and the opportunity to try sashimi-style cuts that you won’t find at other places.
Whether you opt for the nigiri omakase (adding 12 more pieces to your menu) or the $195 chef’s omakase, expect high-end ingredients flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji and Toyosu markets, plus a few items that are exclusive to Nakaji. The shima aji (striped jack) is a particular standout, and if you opt for the Uni experience, Nakaji will procure three different boxes of the sea creature from the auction at Toyosu Market.