Nagaya is an infamous Japanese restaurant for upscale fine dining operated and hosted by Yoshizumi Nagaya. In a modern and chic setting the artisan chef serves traditional sushi, sashimi, tempura & co in hard to match quality and variety with a European touch. The restaurant is one MICHELIN star restaurant and the only German sushi restaurant with this honour. The MICHELIN guide summarises its point of view like this:
“What would you expect at Yoshizumi Nagaya’s restaurant other than typical Japanese precision and simplicity? The flavours are sophisticated, purist and natural, the onus on choice ingredients. The pleasantly reserved, professional front-of-house team are always pleased to offer wine and sake recommendations.”
Source: MICHELIN Guide
Puristic Dinner at Nagaya
In a group of two we showed up at the restaurant without reservation and were lucky enough to get a spot in the otherwise heavily frequented and usually fully booked restaurant. Seated at a table for two with a view towards the sushi bar, we quickly adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions at the restaurant. Even though all staff had to wear masks all the time, we were able to lift our face covers once we reached our table and sanitised our hands. As one would expect from a fine dining restaurant such as this, the staff ensured we had an amazing experience despite current restrictions.
Since we arrived shortly after 8:30 pm, it was no longer possible to order the set menu option, as this would not have fitted in the remaining opening hours of the restaurant. Without being too disappointed about it, we focused on the sushi part of the menu and decided to order some starters and then share a SUSHI and SASHIMI house set that would take us on a culinary journey throughout the night. The meal started with an amazing miso soup with tofu and fermented vegetables. It was matched by a great glass of Riesling recommend by the sommelier. After the soup we had a roll from goose liver terrine with red beet croquant and hazel nut powder (of which we sadly took no photos).
Nagaya’s Sushi and Sashimi house set
As the main course, a huge plate of sushi, nigiri and sashimi pieces was served with dry ice for visual effects. It covered almost all delicacies from the sushi menu and was absolutely amazing. The plate was served with another matching white wine recommended by the sommelier. It was a 2018 Weingut Keller Silvaner Feuervogel, which was not just perfectly suited for the sushi plate, but an outstanding rich and dry white wine in general.
The SUSHI and SASHIMI house set came with an outstanding california roll – a kani (crab meat) and avocado uramaki (inside out roll) – and a spicy tuna roll – maguro (lean tuna back) maki with chilli mayonnaise – as well as the house roll – a sake (Scottish salmon), maguro (lean tuna back), hamachi (Japanese yellowtail) and ebi (shrimp) futo maki (big roll). The futo maki was absolutely amazing and after some initial scepticism wether so many pieces of fish in one roll would result in a nice composition, it turned out the be the most amazing roll of them all. The plate also came with some basic sashimi pieces, sake (Scottish salmon), hamachi (Japanese yellowtail) and maguro (lean tuna back). The tuna was advertised as a Mediterranean tuna from Spain.
The were also 5 types of nigiri, all of which were pretty amazing on its own. The plate came with tai (Japanese sea bream), aji (mackerel), sake (Scottish salmon), hamachi (Japanese yellowtail) and chu-toro (medium fatty tuna belly) nigiri. The only pieces that were not absolutely breathtaking were the hamachi. Everything else was super rich, had amazing texture and taste that went well with the white wine.
There was room for more…
To round things off, we also sampled few items that were not part of the SUSHI and SASHIMI house set. Most impressively, the unagi (Taiwanese freshwater eel) and hotategai (Breton scallop) nigiri were absolutely jaw dropping. I have rarely enjoyed as amazing scallops anywhere and these two pieces are some of my absolute favourites. The hotategai came with a small dip of chilli sauce, which gave an amazing taste to the contained taste of the scallop. The teriyaki sauce for the unagi was also excellent and the piece was served warm, which is my preference. Even the fresh wasabi and gari (ginger) were excellent.
As a last dish we tried something a bit more crunchy. The ebi tempura (deep fried) uramaki (inside out roll) was a nice finale to the opulent dinner and culinary journey we took during this night.
Sushi Guide Verdict
Nagaya certainly is a one of its kind restaurant. Even among the fierce competition in Germany’s largest Japanese community in Düsseldorf it stands alone as the best Japanese fine dining restaurant around. It ranks well among the MICHELIN star sushi restaurants we tried so far. For a more casual sushi experience, Nagaya recently opened a second branch called Yoshi, which is an outstanding alternative to the fine dining setting of the main restaurant and provides the same quality of sushi dishes.
Nagaya certainly caters to upscale clientele with its chic and conservative interior design. The warm atmosphere and welcoming staff made our visit quite enjoyable and a unique experience. The menu options are a bit limited since the restaurant offers an omakase set menu each night and some additional items á la carte. Never the less, the quality and taste of the food is outstanding and second to none. The drink and wine menu is extensive as one would expect from a one MICHELIN star restaurant. We were especially satisfied with our choices of wine and can highly recommend to trust the sommelier’s recommendations for matching the dishes if desired. The service team was most forthcoming and catered to us with a good mix of restraint and initiative. Overall, this was an amazing experience and Nagaya certainly is a must for any serious sushi aficionado living in or visiting Düsseldorf.
Review date: July 14, 2020