Sneak Peek: Sushi Ichimura

Of course there’s an only-in-Tribeca story here: legendary New York sushi chef Eiji Ichimura, whose earned his first Michelin stars — two of them — at Brushstroke in 2014, was walking through the neighborhood, looking for his next (and last — he’s 70) restaurant space. There was one small spot on the stretch of Greenwich between Laight and Hubert just next to l’abeille, so on his way to see it, he stopped in. Owner (and Tribecan) Rahul Saito, a regular at Ichimura’s last spot, Uchu (also two Michelin stars), was seated at the bar and they surveyed the new space next door.

“He said he was looking around for a new restaurant and so I asked if he wanted to do it together,” Saito said (he is second from left with Howard Chang, Ernesto Valdes and Kyung Lee, the executive sous chef at l’abeille). “I created this space to really have Chef Ichimura do his job the way he wants. It’s his last dance.”

Saito (who speaks Japanese) expanded his lease south and will fill the gap between the two restaurants with the more casual l’abeille à côté, to debut later this summer.

Sushi Ichimura has 10 seats around the bar and two seatings: 5:30 and 8:30, Tuesday through Saturday, at $425 plus tip, tax and drinks. It is reservation only, on Resy. The menu is strictly omakase, crafted each night, with five to six appetizers, about 13 pieces of sushi and dessert. When I stopped in at 3 yesterday, opening night, the chef was signing each menu with a calligraphy brush.

Ichimura is known for his methods of curing and aging fish and his seasoned sushi rice — in fact his techniques might be the reason that sushi in New York is not just all rolls, all the time. He arrived here in 1980 (he lives in Long Island City) and has been changing the food scene here ever since. When Pete Wells discovered Ichimura at Brushstroke, inside David Bouley’s restaurant on Hudson and Reade, in 2012, he could not contain his excitement — and didn’t: he gave it three stars. “When we moved on to nigiri,” he wrote, “and had our first taste of the rice — warm, fragrant and assertive — we understood that this was some of the most remarkable sashimi and sushi either of us had ever tasted.”

Of course this adds to the list of omakase menus in the neighborhood — there’s Sushi Azabu‘s The Den on Greenwich and Laight, Ito on Barclay, Icca on Warren, Tsubame coming to Park Place, Shion 69 Leonard, Sushi of Gari on West Broadway — but Saito says that everyone is doing something different (though all at about the same price point — starting at $320).

The room was designed by Marta Carvalho, who applied the same design philosophy she used at L’Abeille — simple and elegant — but with a Japanese twist. The 400-year-old gold screen that anchors the room is from Saito’s personal collection; the wood panels are sustainably harvested Brazilian Ipe; the typical Tribeca industrial duct is painted gold. And there’s a bear claw good luck charm, from a shrine in Japan, installed high in the corner. There’s one window but it is covered with a blackout shade and a curtain — there is no natural light.

“You want it to be serene and quiet but not boring,” Carvalho said. “I wanted to make it interesting and comfortable, with clean geometry and all natural elements. The gold panel is the main attraction — that and the chef.”

And in keeping with the Japanese tradition of tiny, hard-to-spot restaurants, there’s no sign on the façade for Sushi Ichimura — just a lantern set on the ground once the restaurant is open each night.

Sushi Ichimura
412 Greenwich | Hubert & Laight
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30p & 8:30p
Sunday and Monday: Closed



  1. Very exciting. However, it would be nice to have an omakase option under $120 in this neighborhood