Momoya Sushi NYC on Amsterdam Avenue
Every neighborhood needs a go-to sushi spot, somewhere you can rely upon time after time to deliver generous servings of pristine fish at a reasonable price in a comfortable environment. When we lived on the Upper West Side, that spot became Momoya Sushi NYC, on Amsterdam Avenue near 80th Street, which opened in the fall of 2007. We loved the look of the place, we knew we could count on the Chirashi to satisfy our periodic sushi cravings, and we were confident that, if necessary, we could order deeper into the menu without disappointment. It had been a couple of years since our last visit to Momoya Sushi when we found ourselves needing dinner last weekend in the old neighborhood, and so decided to pop in and see how the things we're holding up. Much to our delight, the answer was: very well indeed.
Momoya Sushi NYC, in case you haven't been, was designed and built by Swee Phuah and Hiro (of Momofuku, ChikaLicious, Soto, etc, fame), with the main wall in the front room composed of the rough-hewn ends of wooden planks, all protruding at irregular distances, all running horizontally. In the cozy, secret-hideout-feeling back room, it's the same thing, except the planks run vertically. Very cool.
For the most part the food was exactly how we remembered it: nothing flashy, but freshly sourced and prepared with care. The bowl of Chirashi, for example, was pretty much your standard sushi-bar fare–tuna, salmon, salmon roe, yellow tail, octopus, mackerel, eel, egg, fluke, pickled veggies–but to a piece this was fresh and soft and melty (when appropriate), the rice bright with vinegar, the whole dish a bargain at $23. Also excellent at Momoya Sushi NYC was the Shumai appetizer, five fat dumplings, soft but not mushy (the usual downfall of these things) with a chewy patchwork coating of firm noodles on the outside, accompanied by a perfect ponzu sauce.
In the past we've also enjoyed the Seaweed Tasting, a sampling of six varieties of the sea greens (and purples… and whites…), topped with an interesting shiso soy vinaigrette, which we happen to like, but if you're not fond of shiso, don't bother with this dish. And the Tempura Soba at Momoya Sushi NYC is a good bet too, the toothsome buckwheat strands swimming in a rich, earthy broth filled with, among other things, many sorts of mushrooms. The only real clunker on our recent visit was the California Roll, which had pretty much zero flavor except "salt" and, when added, "wasabi".
Momoya Sushi NYC
The Upper West Side Momoya Sushi is located on Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 80th Streets and is open daily from 5:30 p.m. until 12:00 midnight. The prices here are about two-thirds what they charge at next-door Haru, and the atmosphere and service is much more friendly. For more information and a look at the menu, please see the Momoya Sushi NYC website.