Daniel Boulud is hiding a ‘secret’ sushi restaurant at Grand Central Terminal

At first look, a sushi sanctuary tucked in a nook beneath Grand Central Terminal bears no identify, no door and no signal. 

But if commuters speeding to their trains cross a Japanese rock backyard below a staircase, Harry Potter fashion, they might bump into a secret gem. Follow the rocks, guarded by a uniformed safety officer, and also you’ll discover the hidden entry to Jōji – and its $375 per particular person menu.  

The 18-seat ode to omakase was opened Sept. 14 by high French chef Daniel Boulud in partnership with sushi grasp George Ruan, previously of Masa, and developer SL Green – which constructed One Vanderbilt, the 90-story office tower adjoining to Grand Central.  

Boulud helms Le Pavillon, a culinary vacation spot at the bottom of One Vanderbilt. If there was any space left over after the build out, Boulud and SL Green CEO Marc Holliday joked they’d create a small temple to omakase, much like the sort present in Japanese practice stations. 

Turns out they weren’t kidding, squeezing the brand new restaurant into a 1,763-square-foot alcove below the steps that join Grand Central and One Vanderbilt. The Cambrian black granite rock backyard provides one other 393 sq. toes.  

Commuters can order Jōji’s prized sushi to go from Jōji Box, its takeout sister spot.
Thomas Schauer

“It was a very undesirable spot for a tenant, but we decided to wrap it with a Japanese garden and create a very unique and special experience inside. We hope it gets as famous as the Oyster Bar,” stated Boulud, referring to the century-old seafood restaurant situated on the terminal’s decrease stage.

Jōji’s harder-to-find location is a part of Grand Central Terminal’s lengthy historical past of hidden hotspots — from The Campbell, a secret bar inside a former office for a Nineteen Twenties-era mogul, to the fourth-floor tennis courtroom as soon as leased by Donald Trump. 

Even the fictional villain Lex Luther, Superman’s archenemy, stored his evil lair in an deserted a part of the terminal 200 toes beneath Grand Central. 

“Maybe we’ll play tennis together,” Boulud quipped.

You might should be a felony mastermind to attain a prized seat at the 10-seat sushi bar, the place the ready listing reveals no seats accessible for the subsequent two months. The restaurant provides simply two, 10-person sittings a evening, together with two eight-seat settings in a non-public eating room.

In-the-know office staff craving menu choices like tuna nigiri, tuna maki, uni nigiri, salmon nigiri and maki rolls, which begin at $10 for one roll, can order from Jōji Box, its takeout sister spot. Delivery choices launch subsequent month.

But it’s the expertise of pulling up a seat at the roomy sushi bar — and watching Chef Ruan work his magic — that Boulud and his companions say makes Jōji particular. As quickly as you enter, you’re enveloped in a dimly lit, womb-like space that is worlds away from the hordes of commuters and vacationers close by

The decor by Shinichiro Ogata’s Simplicity Design focuses on pure components like stone and wooden to create the serene setting. 

Thomas Schauer
Thomas Schauer
Thomas Schauer
Thomas Schauer

And identical to Le Pavillon — the place Boulud shut down a part of forty second St. to truck in 10,000 kilos of olive timber to plant contained in the restaurant in the course of the pandemic, as we completely reported — it’s the obsessive consideration to element that makes Jōji distinctive.  

The sushi bar, for instance, is created from a single Lebanese cedar tree sourced from Italy. It is sanded down by hand each morning to take care of its silky easy texture, Chef Ruan tells Side Dish. 

Even the partitions appear to be in on the key, decked out in subtly textured white Japanese washi, or rice paper. 

Chef Ruan may need a glass of wine whereas chatting with company who really discuss to one another, even the individuals they don’t know. And whereas the seasonal menu is set, Chef Ruan together with Chefs Wayne Cheng and Xiao Lian, will combine it up for regulars. 

New sushi hotspot Jōji, tucked in a secret alcove at Grand Central Terminal, options 10 seats at the bar.
Eric Vitale

Cheng additionally units the enjoyable and playful temper with an eclectic playlist that options artists equivalent to El Michels Affair, Mobb Deep and Bahamadia.  

“The partnership with Daniel has been incredibly rewarding — for us, for our tenants, and for the New York City dining scene,” Holliday stated, including that Le Pavillon and La Terrace, a tenant-only amenity space run by Daniel, and now Jōji, are “redefining the work experience.”

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