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Sushi Yasuda, Midtown East - Chef Mitsuru Tamura Takes Over from Naomichi Yasuda


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204 East 43rd Street

New York City 10017

Phone: (212) 972-1001

Fax: (212) 972-1717

Web: http://www.sushiyasuda.com/

One of my favorite destinations in New York is Sushi Yasuda in Midtown East, one block from Grand Central. I've been numerous times, and my visit last week was typical of the remarkable experience I've come to expect. My meal last Thursday at the sushi bar was omakase and included, in order (all nigiri unless indicated): bluefin toro, branzino, yellowtail, mackerel and jack mackerel (I told the chef I loved mackerel), scallop, arctic char, Australian king salmon, giant clam, sea eel and frestwater eel, oyster, toro and scallion maki (two pieces), uni (on request), and more bluefin toro (also requested). Each was the best of its kind that I can recall and came with perfect (texture, seasoning, and temperature) rice and interesting sauces and garnishes (a lot of citrus in addition to the usual soy and fresh wasabi). The whole meal for two (we each had everything listed), plus 3 Kirin draft was $200, which, though not cheap, I consider reasonable for sushi this good (the truly good stuff can be very expensive, and it was a lot of food). And Yasuda has been remarkably consistent, though the one visit where I sat at a table and ordered a la carte the sushi was only merely "very good." But if you go to the sushi bar and let them choose their best, I doubt you'll find better sushi in the US, and possibly anywhere.

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I'm a big fan of sushi yasuda with their very traditional approach to sushi. i would also recommend you try sushi of gari on the upper east side. paraphrasing chipper jones, "i'm a fan of sushi yasuda but i've got a mancrush on sushi of gari"

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Sushi Yasuda has stopped taking tips. Huffington Post article.

A note on the bottom of each receipt, where you'd normally expect to see a spot to include a tip, explains:

Sushi Yasuda is making up for lost tips to servers with a higher hourly wage that will be subsidized by higher baseline menu prices."Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted. Thank you.”

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I initially issued a very harsh post; now I'm going to change it to a simple question:

How long did Sushi Yasuda know that customers were sometimes overtipping, despite the tips not going to the service staff?

Was it two months, or two years?

I can understand the former for sure, and if that's the case, they can still remain trailblazers in my eyes.

Would someone who worked for them please email me at donrockwell@dcdining.com in strict confidence? When did they first change the policy of not tipping out to the servers, and how long did it last without them making exquisitely clear that they would not accept additional gratuity?

Cheers,

Rocks

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Are you referring to the lawsuit filed against Sushi Yasuda under the FLSA?

No, not at all, and thank you for this link, Gary.

I was referring to my post from yesterday which I deleted because I wanted to give them the benefit of any doubt, and I felt guilty as all get-out for writing it.

Here is what I wrote, and based on this lawsuit, I'm going to go ahead and restore my deleted post, word-for-word. And it's going to stay here until I'm satisfied there was no wrongdoing because seeing rich people take advantage of not-rich people boils my blood, especially when it's cloaked in hypocrisy. Here it is:

---

According to this article, they've merely stopped *confiscating* tips.

"At Sushi Yasuda, the tips were not going to the workers, anyway. The staff received salaries and benefits and the restaurant took the tips, Mr. Rosenberg said."

Sushi Yasuda, if this is true, and the public wasn't aware of it, I pray that your waitstaff files a class-action lawsuit against you. If it's not true, or if your policy was clearly stated to your customers, you should take action against the New York Times for making you look like white-collar criminals.

Funny, when I read the Huffington Post article, I put you as the #1 restaurant to visit on my next trip to New York; unless my worst fears are mollified, I will never set foot in your door.

Given that there was a space on your credit-card bill for tips, you either made your customers clearly - and I mean *clearly* - aware that service was included, or you didn't.

You're either trailblazers, or the scum of the earth, and I don't see a whole lot of middle ground here.

Which is it?

---

I'm going to give Sushi Yasuda a reasonable amount of time to address this, and then I'm going to ratchet this up if they don't. Mr Rosenberg, you're on notice.

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Interesting info at Wiser Waitress and NY's Hospitality Wage Order

1. Retention of Tips: The law forbids any arrangement between the employer and the tipped employee whereby any part of the tip received becomes the property of the employer. A tip is the sole property of the waiter. Where an employer does not strictly observe the tip credit provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), no tip credit may be claimed and the waiter is entitled to receive the full cash minimum wage, in addition to retaining tips he may or should have received.
2. Service Charges: A compulsory charge for service, for example, 15 percent of the bill, is not a tip. Such charges are part of the employer's gross receipts. Where service charges are imposed and the waiter receives no tips, the employer must pay the entire minimum wage and overtime required by the FLSA. But under New York’s Hospitality Wage Order, if customers are led to believe the service charge is a tip that will be given to the waiter, the employer cannot retain the service charge.
3. Tip Pooling: The requirement that a tipped employee must retain all tips does not preclude a valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, such as waiters, waitresses, bellhops, counter personnel (who serve customers), busboys/girls and service bartenders. Tipped employees may not be required to share their tips with employees who have not customarily and regularly participated in tip pooling arrangements, such as dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors. Only those tips that are in excess of tips used for the tip credit may be taken for a pool. Tipped employees cannot be required to contribute a greater percentage of their tips than is customary and reasonable.

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No, not at all, and thank you for this link, Gary.

I was referring to my post from yesterday which I deleted because I wanted to give them the benefit of any doubt, and I felt guilty as all get-out for writing it.

Here is what I wrote, and based on this lawsuit, I'm going to go ahead and restore my deleted post, word-for-word. And it's going to stay here until I'm satisfied there was no wrongdoing because seeing rich people take advantage of not-rich people boils my blood, especially when it's cloaked in hypocrisy. Here it is:

---

According to this article, they've merely stopped *confiscating* tips.

"At Sushi Yasuda, the tips were not going to the workers, anyway. The staff received salaries and benefits and the restaurant took the tips, Mr. Rosenberg said."

Sushi Yasuda, if this is true, and the public wasn't aware of it, I pray that your waitstaff files a class-action lawsuit against you. If it's not true, or if your policy was clearly stated to your customers, you should take action against the New York Times for making you look like white-collar criminals.

Funny, when I read the Huffington Post article, I put you as the #1 restaurant to visit on my next trip to New York; unless my worst fears are mollified, I will never set foot in your door.

Given that there was a space on your credit-card bill for tips, you either made your customers clearly - and I mean *clearly* - aware that service was included, or you didn't.

You're either trailblazers, or the scum of the earth, and I don't see a whole lot of middle ground here.

Which is it?

---

I'm going to give Sushi Yasuda a reasonable amount of time to address this, and then I'm going to ratchet this up if they don't. Mr Rosenberg, you're on notice.

Was this addressed?  A client has booked SY for us later this week. Do I balk...er, suggest a different spot.  I was last here years ago and, purely based on the food, about as good as I've had east or west coast in the US.  That said, your (Don) concerns are mine as well.

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