Chef Shinichi Inoue (Farah Lopez)
Michelin Stars are pretty much the Oscars of the food world. The quest to receive even one of the three coveted stars can be a lifelong endeavor, and It’s common knowledge that the acquisition of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant. This year, 75 restaurants in Brooklyn and Downtown New York won Michelin stars. But for the first time in history, lucky number 76 is shining brightly Uptown in Harlem.
Right on Lenox Avenue, resides Sushi Inoue, a 45-seat sushi restaurant whose exterior is as humble as its sushi master, Chef Shinichi Inoue– all the windows are covered with rice paper panels, there's plywood attached to the front of the building, and the 'Sushi Inoue' signage is so small, you could pass by thinking the restaurant was closed. Even with his newfound culinary fame, Chef Inoue greets every guest in Japanese as they enter and exit his restaurant. Like a maestro at his podium, he directs his team to move with grace and precision from behind his sushi bar. Sushi Inoue embraces Harlem’s melting pot of cultures while still staying true to its Japanese traditions; diners can enjoy fine tuned Japanese cuisine with jazz classics like “When the Saints Go Marching In” playing in the background.
The most legendary dining experience you can have at Sushi Inoue is the “Trust Me” Omakase option—diners must sit at the 13-seat sushi bar and place their entire experience in the capable hands of the chef for nine courses, including dessert. This sushi master’s technique and genuine love for the art is undeniable; you’ll taste a variety of seafood only found in Chef Inoue’s hometown of Nagasaki Japan, as well as fresh catches from Canada, Alaska, and Seattle. His small team of five moves as one unit; every course is delivered seamlessly—you’ll barely realize that several hours have passed.
Although I went for the blindfold approach to the menu, there are several á la carte options for those who are a bit more conservative, but still want to have an authentic Japanese sushi experience. Sushi Inoue’s operating hours are Tuesday through Saturday 5:30- 11:00 pm and Sunday 5:30- 10:30 pm.
>> Sushi Inoue, 381 Lenox Ave, 646.766.0555