Yoshi by Nagaya is branch of the infamous Japanese Nagaya restaurant for upscale fine dining in Düsseldorf. It is operated and hosted by chef Yoshizumi Nagaya, a student of Toshiro Kandagawa, the grand master of traditional Japanese cuisine, and Takada Hasho, the star of innovative culinary art. The modern and chic sushi restaurant serves traditional sushi, sashimi with a variety of main course dishes, that are seasonal compositions that are hard to match in quality and aesthetics.
The restaurant is listed among 5 Places to Go in Düsseldorf by The New York Times and same is its mother restaurant, it is also a one MICHELIN start restaurant:
“Yoshi Nagaya’s second eponymous restaurant is not far from its forerunner, also located in “Japantown”. The food is classic Japanese, the setting stylishly minimalist. Large selection of sakes. The more limited lunchtime offering is great value.”
Source: MICHELIN Guide
Amazed by the recent experience at Nagaya, we desperately wanted to also try its little offspring. We were lucky to get seats at the usually fully booked restaurant. Due to the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the overall experience was somewhat diminished by the measures to ensure safe distancing within the restaurant. Most strikingly, the seats at the sushi bar were not available and so we had to settle on a nice table for two with good view towards the bar but without being able to be mesmerised by watching the chefs prepare the dishes. Still we were excited and anticipated a similarly outstanding experience.
Sushi Classics and Exlcusives
We focused on à la carte options and decided to start the meal with some classic sushi dishes to sample the variety of fish offered that night. We started out with a moriawase style nigiri plate that came with sake (salmon), shima aji (striped jack), maguro (tuna back) and hamachi (yellowtail). Both the salmon and striped jack were absolutely outstanding and melted in our mouths. Only the tuna cut was not so amazing and ranks more among average. We also had specialty rolls, a ebi tempura (deep fried shrimp) uramaki (inside our roll) and a spicy boston uramaki (inside our roll) with avocado, maguro (tuna back) and a spicy chilli sauce. The rolls were very well composed and even though maki and uramaki are not my favourites as usually the overcompensate the taste of the fish, these were excellent and quite tasty. Especially the fried shrimp was still super crispy and the roll was served at the perfect moment.
For the main course we decided to order from the fish menu rather then sushi menu and opted for one signature dish and one of the monthly special offers. We had a gindara saikyo yaki style (grilled black cod with miso sauce), that is certainly a classic and signature dish with its delicate and buttery textures. It was served with grilled nasu (eggplant) with horenso tempura (fried spinach) and senbei (rice crackers) topping as a side. The miso sauce was outstanding and the cod just melted in our mouths. The other dish was the grilled fish of the month, akamustu (rosy seabass), an amazingly distinct white fish with high fat and slightly sweet flavour. It was served with sliced vegetables on nasu (eggplant) purée. It was similarly outstanding, but a completely different spectrum of flavours and considerably lighter than the miso cod. The presentation of the dishes was impressive but not as amazing as the sushi plate we had at Nagaya.
We paired the initial sushi dish with a matching rich and dry white white wine recommended by the sommelier, a 2018 Weingut Keller Silvaner Feuervogel. For the main course we decided so sample the sake options in the the extensive wine and spirits menu. After lengthy deliberation and consultation with the sommelier, we decided to try a 45% rice polish grade sake, the Yamaguchi Prefecture Dassai 45 by Asahi Shuzo, made if Yamada-Nishiki rice. It was an excellent choice. Its taste was fruity and floral, yet soft enough to not dominate the fish of the main course and it has a clean finish.
To round off the meal, we decided to have another 2 of the sushi specialty rolls. We had a spicy sake (salmon) maki tempura (fried roll) and the house roll futomaki (big roll) with maguro (tuna back), sake (salmon), hamachi (yellowtail), ebi (shrimp) and kani (crab meat). The fried roll was excellent and served at the perfect moment to fully enjoy the crispness. The hose roll is outstanding and easily the best of those we tried. It is the same house roll also served in the mother restaurant and even though it was a bit surprising to see that many similarities, it certainly is an amazing roll to try. Also the gari (pickled ginger) had a very distinct signature taste and the fresh wasabi was well appreciated.
Sushi Guide Verdict
Yoshi by Nagaya seems to be more casual and simplistic with is chic interior design and is clearly catering to the trendy crowd, however the overall experience was very similar to the one at Nagaya. Among the MICHELIN star sushi restaurants we tried so far, it certainly deserves it place but it falls behind its mother and also other alternatives on a global scale. In Düsseldorf however, it certainly it stands alone with Nagaya as the best Japanese fine dining restaurants around. The interior design is cooler and more simplistic but the overall atmosphere and attitude of the staff is very similar. It is darker and more inviting for intimate dinners, however the cold vibe might be not as inviting for long stays as it could be. The menu options are only few, which can be a bit limited to the experience. The restaurant offers an omakase style set menu and few select items à la carte. The taste and quality of the food is outstanding and hard to beat even among the fierce competition of various Japanese restaurants in close proximity of the Japanese quarter in Düsseldorf. The sushi menu is limited to only basic fish, which maybe the main disappointment for true sushi aficionados. The drink and wine menu is extensive as one would expect from a one MICHELIN star restaurant and we were happy with the consultation we received and the choices we made. The service team was most forthcoming and friendly, making the stay a very pleasant experience. Yoshi by Nagaya is certainly an amazing restaurant that can be recommended without any hesitation, yet there are other good options around if more variety is desired. In comparison to the very similar mother restaurant, both are on the same level in almost all aspects, with little winning margin for Nagaya due to its more inviting atmosphere.
Review date: September 1, 2020