Being Late Is Not an Option at NYC's Sushi on Jones

Sushi on Jones’ simplistic concept comes from its owner’s passion for authenticity
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Being late is not an option at Sushi on Jones, where the six-seat sushi counter that is serving up back-to-back Omakase-style meals on a schedule. You’ve likely made your reservation days in advance to snag a quick 30-minute window to dine at NYC’s first and only outdoor sushi counter, and as the “sushi bouncer” (as I like to call him) told me, “if you don’t show up, we blacklist you.”

The intensity is real, but the sushi is well worth it. Tucked away in NoHo’s new Bowery Market, Sushi on Jones’ simplistic concept comes from its owner’s passion for authenticity. David Bouhadana, the master chef behind Sushi on Jones, is a Florida-raised, French-Moroccan born sushi chef who has trained with top Sushi Masters in both the U.S. and Japan. His expertise and passion for authentic Japanese sushi outpours in his “restaurant.” Bouhadana began his training at 18, and in just a decade has been named one of Zagat’s 30 under 30 greatest chefs.

What is Omakase? In Japanese, it literally means ‘respectfully leaving another to decide what is best.’  In foodie terms, it means the chef decides and you eat. There is no menu and no placing an order. You sit and wait for the gravy train of sushi to pull in. At Sushi on Jones, the menu goes like this: Scallop, Crab, Hamachi, Uni, Eel, Botan Shrimp, 2 Tuna, 2 Wagyu Beef and 2 Salmon. In total, 12 pieces for $50. 12 pieces to admire, eat and snap an obligatory photo in 30 minutes. The rigid deadline does not provide for a leisurely dining experience, modeled after the quick, pared down grab-and-go sushi counters straight out of Japan.

The nigiri pieces were well balanced, with a generous piece of fish laid upon a delicate ball of rice, an ideal ratio to elevate the flavor of the seafood beyond the sweet grain. The fish was fresh, on par with some of the swankiest of sushi restaurants in NYC and beyond. The garnishes were simplistic — some with Yuzu, a swipe of ponzu or soy sauce, and a sprinkle of black salt. If you are a self-proclaimed sushi purist, you will praise the low-key joint, where everything is back to basics and genuine, versus some of the over-the-top, sullied sushi menus of today’s trendy eateries.

When pieces begin their arrival, you see eyes widen, for some with excitement and for others, who may be new to the sushi game, with intimidation. The hype of Sushi on Jones has seen a steady incline since its opening in July, and certainly attracts sushi veterans and rookies alike. And that’s part of its charm. The experienced sushi chefs guide diners through the menu with a swift hand, as they reach beyond the sushi counter onto your plate for each course. They wait for your expression with anticipation, and after each smirk and resounding “Mmm,” they smile and prepare the next piece.

12 pieces, several heaps of ginger and many hunger-induced photos later, I was still near distraught when my 30 minutes expired. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or a picky nibbler, it is absolutely worth the advance reservation. The beauty is in its simplicity, a refreshing breakaway from overly saturated bistro menus and bougie cocktail programs of the city’s hip restaurants.

Sushi on Jones is open 7 days a week, with the first seating starting at 12 p.m., and turning over every 30 minutes. For reservations, text 917-270-1815.