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Ueki: 12 seats of Blue Ribbon hospitality
RESTAURANTS • First Word
The Skinny: Thirty years after Bruce and Eric Bromberg brought fish in rice to New York at Blue Ribbon Sushi, they’ve opened this shoebox of a West Village omakase named after Blue Ribbon’s founding chef, Toshi Ueki. It’s not the most advanced sushi in the city, but true to its lineage, delivers an amiable experience at a good price.
The Vibe: No need to mind your manners. The chef, Fukuoka-born Kazutaka Iimori, who worked at beloved Ushiwakamaru and various New York editions of Nobu, likes to have fun and crack jokes. The space is small and cramped — with 12 seats, including a central eight-seat dining counter — same as it was in its past life as Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar (RIP), but with softer lines (and seats).
The Style: Ueki bills itself as “deeply rooted in Japanese tradition,” but the edamame starter and caviar and gold leaf accents beg to differ. Still, the otsumami (small appetizers) and nigiri are well-made and built with mostly Japanese seafood.
The Lineup: Expect six otsumami followed by 10 nigiri, then tamago, spotted prawn miso soup, and a slice of Japanese melon. Signature bite: Oshizushi, a style of pressed sushi, here topped with herring from Hokkaido.
The Verdict: Charming spot for user-friendly omakase.