The LO Times
Free Food
Free Food Podcast: Is $1,300 Too Much For Sushi?

Free Food Podcast: Is $1,300 Too Much For Sushi?

Plus, a review of Sip & Guzzle, and the "King Charles" crudites at Frog Club

This column and podcast are free, but paid subscribers can scroll to the bottom for a cheat sheet on what to order at Sip & Guzzle!

New Yorkers know that fancy meals are expensive meals. But Manhattan’s top sushi spots aren’t just pricey; they’re some of the world’s most expensive restaurants.

And they’re raising prices yet again.

On the debut Free Food Podcast, I chat with London-based editor Adam Coghlan about what it means to spend over $1,000 on sushi. To be sure, a high-end omakase that runs a cool grand for two — before wine — isn’t an outlier in Manhattan. It’s standard.

Coghlan and I also talk about:

  • Early reviews of Frog Club, a Waverly Inn-style celeb hangout where patrons have to put stickers over their mobile phone cameras, or risk ejection. True story: I was ejected from Waverly Inn once.

  • Some of the best pizza parlors in New York and New Jersey.

  • The underrated excellence of New York tacos

Coghlan was the founding editor of Eater London. He now works as the restaurant editor at Vittles, and as an editor for Something Curated.

Take a listen, and please enjoy the music I licensed for this; it sounds like the background tunes for a mimosa-fueled brunch in Scottsdale. And the next episode will be just 31 minutes, as I promised. Maybe.

More sushi spots hike prices even further

I wasn’t kidding when I said a high-end sushi meal in New York will cost some serious bucks. Here are a few recent increases:

  • Nakaji on the Bowery has hopped up from $295 to $365.

  • Joji underneath Grand Central has moved up from $375 to $410.

  • Sushi Noz has hiked its menu from $500 to $550.

Tax and gratuity is additional at Nakaji and Joji, which means dinner will run about $500 per person before a single cocktail, glass of Champagne, or sake. And trust me when I say these aren’t the type of places where you go for a happy hour pilsner.

New York now has 10 omakase spots where dinner for two will run $1,000 or more. Sushi Noz — where I ate very well — will cost you $1,200 for two, while Yoshino will set you back $1,300. For more info on why sushi costs what is does — including more operators bidding on finite supplies of fish, as well as nuclear arms race-style price hikes — take a look at my column from 2022.

The Lo 13: Where a London food editor has been eating

The following Q&A is from today’s podcast with Adam Coghlan. Fast forward to the 25 min mark to listen to all thirteen questions!

What do you crave about NYC food and life when you’re not here?

A lot of West Coasters sort of laugh at me when I talk about the fact that I go for tacos when I get to New York. But that's one thing I've always kind of gravitated towards, particularly Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market, which has a special place in my heart. There's something about the energy there as well as the food and the smell of the place. There's this kind of warmth about the smell of corn, that I actually detect not just at Los Tacos No. 1, but in various places in New York and in America…You don't smell corn in London. It's something I really love.

What restaurant are you obsessed with now?

I had a really good and very interesting meal…in London last weekend at a place called Yuki Bar. It's run by this guy that was a sommelier at Noma and he's opened a small bar in London Fields in the east of the city. There’s an incredible dish of silken tofu with mushrooms that stands out...Adam Coghlan

Mischa has closed

Around this time last year, you could find New York’s most creative new restaurants in the East Village — and on the ground floor of a huge investment bank.

Mischa by Alex Stupak was an innovative outlier in Midtown. And I’m so sorry to learn that it has closed.

The daring restaurant subverted the tropes of classic American tavern fare in a space where diners probably didn’t seek out — or want — subversion. In the early days, the kitchen paired shrimp cocktail sauce not with horseradish-spiked ketchup, but with funky chile crab. The only burger, at first, was a mushroom patty melt that had tons more flavor than most beef burgers. And the hot dog was $29. It was one of the most talked about dishes in town.

The fact that Mischa felt about as charming as a Delta Sky Club didn’t help. But it was precisely the type of restaurant Midtown needed.

Two early reports from Frog Club!

Liz Johnson’s New York hotspot — let’s call it Horses 2.0 — doesn’t need any more introduction, so let’s get right to all anuran action. Here’s Eater’s Emma Orlow with an astute observation on the camera-free zone:

A charming mural of anthropomorphized, cafe society frogs is reminiscent of the spirit of the Madeleine one at Bemelmans. A roaring fireplace at the center of the room is a focal point. Without the strobe lights of an iPhone camera, it gives the guise of atemporality — or, at least, a time when Sex and the City was still on air, with a drinks list that includes throwback Tequila Sunrises.

And here’s NY Mag’s Matthew Schneier, with his own take:

I confess I am not immune to the contrived charm of the unbookable. I was prepared to enjoy myself. But as a restaurant — rather than as a clubhouse or a thing to brag about — Frog Cub didn’t offer much to recommend.

Three Big Deal Cafes, Reviewed: Carmellini, Boulud, and Zuni!

In the mood for grand European cafe? Well, then head over to the New Yorker, where Helen Rosner had a lot of fun jousting (??) with breadsticks and ordering $90 chicken at Cafe Carmellini. It is claw-on chicken, of course.

Or if you like, spend a few minutes with Robert Sietsema at the new Cafe Boulud. There, the Eater critic tries “Chiang Mai” pork while sitting near folks in Dalton and Chapin sweaters. As one does on the Upper East Side.

Or if you find yourself in San Francisco, maybe you’ll head over to Zuni Cafe, the subject of Chronicle critic MacKenzie Chung Fegan’s debut review. Here, the chicken is merely $75 (I call it the “SF discount”), and the writer finds that Anne Alvero’s kitchen “continues to celebrate Judy Rodgers’ legacy, turning out dishes that are a paean to California’s bounty in a space that glows with the warmth of diners enjoying each other’s company.”

A former Michelin inspector experiments with...becoming a regular!

Allow me to recommend signing up for Sweet City, a Substack by ex-Michelin inspector Mahira Rivers. The writer admits that being a restaurant regular isn’t generally her cup of tea, and that’s the pretext for her venturing over to Red Gate bakery — quite a few times. She goes every day that the venue is open for a full week! Does she like being a regular? Head over to Sweet City to find out!

Behind the paywall: The early word on Sip & Guzzle

  • Notes on the (chill) vibe at the hot new bar and izakaya

  • Short reviews of key dishes you need to try…like the bikini!

  • What cocktails to order, including the truffled float downstairs

  • How to snag a reservation

I’m running behind on my next full restaurant critique, so as a little “thank you” to my paid subscribers, what follows is a first-look review of the white hot Sip & Guzzle.

This stupendously creative (and very crowded) Greenwich Village izakaya and cocktail bar delighted me in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time…

This post is for paid subscribers

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Free Food
Professional food critic Ryan Sutton and fellow journalists chat about the week’s biggest food news, recipes, and reviews — and discuss their visits to the country’s hottest new restaurants.
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