Sushi Nakazawa

In the summer of 2013, Sushi Nakazawa opened in New York City’s West Village – a hot spot for both already famous and up-and-coming restaurants. Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, the mastermind behind the restaurant’s creations, and proprietor Alessandro Borgognone set out to bring the traditional sushi experience with a slight Western twist to New York. Through coupling time-honored traditions with a modern aesthetic, Sushi Nakazawa creates a multi-sensory dining experience uniquely tailored to each guest. The restaurant uses Edo-mae style sushi, which is characterized by its simplicity, and takes advantage of local ingredients while still sourcing fresh fish from Japan. Every delicate piece of sushi is handled with the utmost care, from the shaping of the rice to the final brush of sauce on top before it touches the guest’s mouth.

The hit documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi propelled Sukiyabashi Jiro straight into the limelight. Nakazawa, then a student and apprentice of Jiro, found his own success when restauranteur Borgognone reached out to him through Facebook, using Google Translate to help overcome the language barriers. Within a few months, New York had a new restaurant with an apprentice turned master sushi chef at its helm. Chef Nakazawa’s love for his craft is evident in his 20-piece omakase, or chef’s choice menu, which takes guests on a true gastronomical experience. It’s no wonder that Sushi Nakazawa, despite it’s relatively recent opening, is already lauded as one of New York’s best restaurants — landing on the same “top restaurant” lists as established names like Grammercy Tavern and Daniel.

sushi nakazawa nyc

Mood of Living: Where did you learn the art of sushi making? How many years did it take for you to get to where you are now?

Daisuke Nakazawa: I was an apprentice of Jiro Ono for more than 10 years.

MoL: Where do you source your ingredients?

DN: We work with fishermen in Japan and the United States. Everything relies on the fishing season, which changes month to month and week to week. At times we will serve about 70% Japanese fish, while other times we will serve split 50/50 between Japan and the United States.

MoL: How do you choose the best and freshest fish?

DN: Season is very important. Equally important is the handling of the fish when it is caught. We have relationships with many fishermen and docks. I have visited many docks on both coasts to explain the steps that we would like our products to go through. A gentle hand is very important after fish are caught.

daisuke nakazawa interview

MoL: Why is sushi making considered an art form, especially in Japan?

DN: When you eat a piece of sushi, you are part of that chef’s life. Sushi is my life. Every piece I make is not just sushi but a reflection of the hard work and passion I have put into making it. There are few things in life more personal than having a chef hand you a piece of sushi.

MoL: The ‘Farm to Table’ movement is widely spread across America, appearing in some way in most restaurants. Do you see this happening in Japan, or does locally sourcing the ingredients come naturally to you?

DN: Japan has always focused on locally sourcing ingredients. Our cuisine has many simple but important flavors that are difficult to find in other places. We believe our food should be part of our homes.

sushi west village

MoL: Which restaurant and/or chef inspires you the most?

DN: I respect anyone who chooses this career. It is a lot of hard work and can be very difficult. I have met many people over my years and learn something new from each person.

MoL: As a chef, do you see yourself as an artist? A craftsman? Or perhaps both?

DN: I just see myself as a chef. Many words are used to describe us who make food, especially very delicate cuisines. I just want to be a good husband and father and to make people happy.

sushi nakazawa west village

MoL: What place do you go to for a peace of mind?

DN: I spend as much time with my family as possible. They make me happy. Our line of work can make finding time for family hard. It is the place that I am most at peace.

MoL: Do you have a favorite recipe(s) you would like to share with our readers?

DN: I try to cook new things all the time. I personally love pretty much any kind of noodle, especially with marinated beef.

sushi restaurant west village