Meet Lenox Avenue's New Sushi Master

By Gustavo Solis | May 4, 2015 2:31pm 

HARLEM — Tomoyuki Hayashi has spent 20 years trying to master the fine art of sushi.

The 42-year-old chef began his training in Tokyo before landing in some of the city’s best Japanese restaurants, including the Michelin Star-rated Sushi Azubu.

Now he is in Harlem, where he hopes to bring high-quality sushi to Lenox Avenue.

“I want to bring traditional sushi to the people,” Hayashi said.

Yuzu, the new restaurant, opened last week at 350 Lenox Ave. in what used to be an exterminator business and presents a more casual atmosphere than the other places where Hayashi has worked.

“The idea is to have high quality sushi but in a much more informal and relaxed place,” said manager Hao Phan. 

At Azubu, a dinner course in which the chef gives you one-on-one attention and serves multiple rolls depending on what you are in the mood for costs $120. At Yuzu, the same experience is $45.

Apart from the traditional, one-on-one experience, there are also rolls like California, Spicy Tuna or Salmon Avocado rolls.

The restaurant is split between contemporary sushi and traditional rolls. Half of it is table seating where customers can order from a server. The other half is a bar where customers can interact with the chef.

Having both options is almost like running two restaurants, Hayashi said.

“Contemporary sushi gets its taste from the sauce while traditional sushi gets it from the ingredients,” he said.

While most contemporary sushi restaurants only use five or six varieties of fish, Yuzu has more than a dozen. Each one requires slightly different filleting techniques and pairs with different ingredients.

Some fish can be unforgiving, according to the chef.

“Blue fin tuna is difficult to work with because it is very delicate,” he said. “Its texture and color spoils quickly.”

So far, Harlemites seem to be embracing traditional sushi. The bar portion of the restaurant has been the most popular, Phan said.

The chef’s dinner course starts out with basic sushi and finishes with more complex rolls. It is a great way for someone who doesn’t know a lot about sushi to learn more about it, she added.




Harlem's newest sushi spot will have its grand opening for dinner service on Friday but HB was able to have a preview tonight.  Tips were coming in at the end of January that Yuzu would open at 350 Lenox which was an empty commercial space by 127th Street.  Things have moved along quickly in the following months and the 46-seat eatery helmed by chef Tomoyuki Hayashi formerly of Sushi Azabu in Tribeca and of Matsuri in Chelsea (during the first couple of years when the quality was exceptional) treated guests tonight to a taste of the menu.

One of the first points to note about Yuzu is that the concept really centers around exceptional quality but in an approachable, casual dining environment.  The interior is brand new but really pretty straightforward without any fussy flourishes.  Sushi at Yuzu will focus on traditional nigiri, sashimi as well as the expected rolls but at a higher level than most other restaurants.  Some of the standouts we had this evening included a seared scallop nigiri that was light and fresh along with a large, raw botan shrimp which is usually not found on a standard menu.  Also the presentation for offerings such as the marinated sashimi salad with sweet miso or the hirame carpaccio with sesame oil and sprouts were outstanding along with being solid dishes.

We have to try a bit more of the menu to get a better sense of the Yuzu but right now everything seems pretty promising.  The staff behind the bar is also already up to speed since they have all worked together in the past and this is one of the more authentic Japanese eateries we have ever experienced uptown. Lunch service will start on Monday of next week and there is a beer and wine license in place.

Yuzu Sushi at 350 Lenox Avenue

March 10, 2015 in John's Blog


Looks like the restaurant at 350 Lenox felt it was ready to start advertising what’s to come. Yuzu Sushi, located between West 127th Street and West 128th Street has work permits up and work has started. This location used to have two separate entrances so the plywood suggests that they will be renovating the entire facade. Look out for this one to definitely open sometime this year.


All of the plywood at 350 Lenox has been removed and the new storefront by 127th Street has now been revealed.  A restaurant called Yuzu will be established at this corner of Central Harlem and has chosen a facade with vertical windows that open the restaurant to the streets.  This detail has been quite popular with new establishments uptown because of the more classic look and the design easily updates the more generic options usually found on older spaces.  We do not have much more on Yuzu except that it will apparently be one of several Japanese eateries in Harlem set to open in 2015.


We received a couple of tips this week that possibly another Japanese eatery appears to be arriving on Lenox Avenue just north of 127th Street.  A public notice has now been posted up at 350 Lenox Avenue for a restaurant called Yuzu and the name intimates the new restaurant will have Japanese offerings.   Yuzu is actually the name of a citrus fruit of Japanese origin used for cooking so this would all make sense for an eating establishment.  Harlem has had a few Japanese spot open up over the past years that do not have Japanese proprietors so hopefully this one will be more authentic like the ones found further downtown.  As reported this month, there will apparently be a new sushi spot opening up a couple of blocks away on 129th Street in the near future.