Blue Ribbon Sushi
Though the sushi is pricier than at some of the popular Japanese restaurants in the neighborhood, they can't compete with this narrow, wood-lined restaurant for freshness, creativity, or atmosphere. Owned by the same people who own Blue Ribbon and Blue Ribbon Bakery, Blue Ribbon Sushi is also open late and has a fun, downtown vibe. A decent sake selection is served in traditional wooden boxes.
Address: 119 Sullivan St., between Prince and Spring Sts.
Phone: 212/343-0404. AE, MC, V. Closed Mow. No lunch.
As you ascend the staircase into this serene, teak-lined space, you will find no sushi bar, no teppanyaki grill: only the noodle, soba. It is made in full view by a master who works in a glass-enclosed cube at the back of the dining room. Like the best restaurants in Tokyo, where the original Honmura An still operates, this one focuses on doing one thing well. The true test of quality is the cold soba, served on square trays with a dipping sauce and a ladle full of cooking water you are expected to slurp as you eat. But everything on the menu is exquisite, from the tiny dumplings and stuffed tofu appetizers to the steaming bowls of soba, udon, and other fresh noodles served in broth. Service is efficient and reserved.
Address: 170 Mercer St., between Houston and Prince Sts.
Phone: 212/334-5253. AE, D, DC, MC, V.