A few months ago, I pleaded with NYC visitors to stay away from the chain restaurants in Times Square. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them and they have their place, but if you’re coming to New York, eat locally, not nationally.
I also think it’s a mistake to come to town and spend hundreds of dollars on a single meal just because a bunch of food snobs say it’s the thing to do.
I’ve never understood fine dining. For me, food “goodness” has a threshold. It’s not like buying a house whereby the more money you spend the more house you get. You can spend increasingly greater amounts of money on a meal, but there’s a tipping point whereby a great meal cannot become any greater. It’ll just cost a hell of a lot more.
I think the fine dining industry knows they’re preying on people’s vanity and have perpetuated this scam for generations. I often picture the chef and Maître d’ back in the kitchen laughing their asses off at the suckers in the dining room. Particularly here in New York.
For instance, Frank Bruni, the restaurant critic for the New York Times was asked where the best sushi restaurant is. Are you ready?
The absolute best [sushi] I encountered in New York over the last five years is Masa, but that’s a recommendation of limited usefulness. A meal there is upward of $400 a person. I haven’t been in a long time.
So I’d like to single out Sushi Yasuda as well. There you can have a wonderfully intimate, pampering omakase experience for under $100 a person, not counting drinks. Still a major treat, but much, much more manageable.
So if you order a nice hot Saki, the bill would be over $100 per person? For friggin’ sushi?! Is a $200 bill for a sushi dinner “much, much more manageable?” Or worth it? Not to me! Believe me, there are PLENTY of sushi joints (and other restaurants as well) in Manhattan that will deliver a satisfying meal for a fraction of that cost.
Don’t believe the hype.