Gajyumaru Japanese and Sushi Restaurant; Upper East Side Neighborhood Gem
There are probably a hundred restaurants in this town that look exactly like Gajyumaru, especially, perhaps, on the avenues of the Upper East and Upper West Sides. You know the type of place: narrow, travel posters as decor, outdated color scheme, random menu, an overall feeling of fatigue.
I've been burned by these generic spots over the years more times than I care to admit, so when I find a neighborhood restaurant that looks unremarkable but serves food that's anything but, well… it is a good eating day indeed. So: meet my new go-to sushi spot on the Upper East Side, Gajyumara.
Plenty of Seating at Gajyumara
Located in the heart of Glenwood UES territory, at 1659 First Avenue between 86th and 87th, Gajyumara has apparently been around since 2006, though for some reason the awning still says "Shimanchu", which I can only assume was the name of whatever came before. (I asked the staff to explain; they could not). Needless to say, it's a little confusing, which is why I included the number in the address above. Also confusing: when you walk into a NYC restaurant that Yelpers seem to love, and that received a recent rave from one of the best food blogs around, Immaculate Infatuation, and the place is totally, totally empty. Yes, it was early when I went, but still.
Gajyumaru's Fresh Fish Sushi Dish
Of course, a sushi spot lives or dies based on the quality of its fish, and here Gajyumaru does a fine job. I ordered the Chirashi, and was rewarded with a generous if unsurprising selection of (mostly) raw fish–tuna, salmon, fluke, shrimp, yellowtail, pollack (aka "crab"), some roe–and pickled veggies, served over sticky, vinegared rice. You won't want to travel from all over town to eat this, but for only $20, if you're a local with a craving? Gajyumaru is definitely your move.
Gajyumaru Restaurant on the Upper East Side
Gajyumaru is located at 1659 First Avenue between 86th and 87th Streets. As stated above, the signage outside says, not Gajyumaru, but rather Shimanchu, but don't be fooled, this is the place. Gajyumaru serves lunch on Tuesdays through Sundays from 12:00 noon to 2:45, and dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00. Closed Mondays. For more info, including a link to online ordering via Seamless, visit Gajyumaru on Menupages!