When it comes to sushi and sashimi I do get very picky; with so many Japanese restaurants in NYC it is easy to find a favorite place. I used to live only few blocks from Japonica so I visited and order from them quiet often. This is going back a while but they always maintained a high quality food with proper service in a small but casual and comfortable atmosphere.
Last time I was here was about two years ago so when we were in the area we decided to stop by without a reservation, around nine-thirty. Manager was kind enough to get us a table for four in the small room where used to be their tatami room for private parties but now they changed it to a semi-private room with six small tables.
One thing I really like about Japonica is that they always have great daily specials along with their regular menu items. If you like your exotic sushi or sashimi you will enjoy your meal here. At our visit they had ivory tuna, sable fish, bonito, wild king salmon, uni from Japan and California, sweet shrimp and few other types of fish from Japan that you don't normally see in the menus. So of course we had to order few of these but make sure check the prices because some of these are very exotic and come from long distances so you end up paying part of their first -class air-fare.
When you order sushi you'll be amazed with the portion sizes. Piece of fish on top of the sushi rice is about three times larger than what is normally served at other restaurants. Even though this is quiet impressive and you do feel like you are getting a great deal, when it comes to authentic sushi it should be bite size so you don't have to bite it in to pieces or chew it a while, at least that's how I prefer my sushi or sashimi to be like so you can hold it with your fingers and drop it in your mouth.
Anyway pass the portion size, the quality of the fish has always been excellent. Besides myself, others in the party were also extremely selective with their sushi and none of them actually had any issues or complaints about the food except we ordered way too much...
Once we ordered a bottle of Wakatake Onikoroshi (The Demon Slayer) Junmai Daiginjo Sake, then we continued with few appetizers like the American Kobe, Kaki (oysters) Fry, Fried Shumai, Red Snapper Usuzukuri, Seared Bonito, Japonica Special Rainbow Roll, Japonica Dragon Roll and finally the Spider Roll with soft shell crab which happens to be in season right now.
One thing I noticed compared to my last visit, couple of years ago was that the dining room staff has been replaced with more of non-Japanese personnel then they had before but the sushi-bar staff remain mainly Japanese.
We finished the night by closing the kitchen around midnight with some green tea and mochi ice cream...Overall we all had a great meal, service was very good and cost of the meal was still "reasonable" up to a point when you consider the selection and quality.
100 University Place
(Between 12th & 13th Streets)
New York, NY 10003