A real estate conflict forced the closure of longtime Midtown spot Solo Restaurant last year, and now a sushi restaurant is stepping in to fill the void: Butterfish (550 Madison Avenue, 212-729-1819) will open its doors tomorrow, offering an affordable omakase option to Midtown East.
The restaurant is under the command of chef Hitoshi, who was born in Tokyo and moved to New York 12 years ago with Sushiden, where he also worked in Japan. “I learned sushi in Japan with only one company,” he explains, an endeavor he undertook after his father told him to leave home and learn to cook. “‘You have to go to Osaka,’ he said. That is a more popular cooking area in Japan. I learned sushi and Japanese food there.”
At Butterfish — so named because “one bite of sushi melts in the mouth,” says Hitoshi — he’ll offer a small list of a la carte options like edamame, seaweed salad, and then sushi pieces like amberjack and fluke, but he’ll deal mostly in omakase menus, which are varied but affordable across the board. At dinner, prices range from $20 for a vegetarian omakase to $42 for the Tokyo omakase, which nets you eight pieces of nigiri, a piece of sashimi, a hand roll, and some edamame. During the day, prices drop a bit, and the same selections range from $18 to $38.
Hitoshi is having some of his fish shipped from Japan, including sea beam, amberjack, and jack mackerel. “We can get fresh fish around New York, but we cannot get these here,” he explains.
The food pairs to a drinks list that is sake-heavy, though it also offers wine, beer, shochu, Japanese whiskey, and a few other spirits.
The 60-seat space features a communal table, which, unlike the rest of the dining room, will not accept reservations, as well as a private area, where chef Hitoshi will give parties a more involved experience (normally, he won’t be visible from the dining room). Two additional event rooms are suitable for private functions.
Butterfish will open for lunch and dinner tomorrow.