Type to search

Photos courtesy of Sushi by Bou

Sushi by Boū Is a Sizzling Sushi Hotspot in Albany


Fresh fish and classic cocktails steal the show in Albany’s coolest new restaurant and lounge.

A key ingredient in an eatery’s recipe for success? A dining experience as unforgettable as the menu. That’s the thinking behind the speakeasy-inspired Sushi by Boū, a restaurant with 16 locations scattered throughout New York and beyond. Helmed by Big Apple-based hospitality group SimpleVenue, Sushi by Boū’s omakase-style eateries—which, per Japanese tradition, nix à la carte sushi options in favor of letting chefs curate a diner’s multi-course meal—prioritize cuisine and ambiance in equal measure. “The thing that really sets us apart from a lot of other restaurants is that we’re not just there to give people food,” says SimpleVenue COO Daniel Zelkowitz. “We’re there to give people an experience.”

For the Sushi by Boū brand, that starts with assigning a theme to each of its omakase restaurants. The new Albany outpost, which made its debut on Howard Street in December, boasts what SimpleVenue calls a “Prohibition-slash-Roaring Twenties vibe”—an apt choice for a sushi joint tucked below City Beer Hall, in the spot that once held the now-defunct Speakeasy 518 cocktail bar.

Walking into this brick-walled space, fittingly marked at street level by a single red light, you’ll first see a feast for the eyes: Table lamps and sconces lend a moody glow to the lounge area, hidden from the street by ornamented window coverings. Leather booths, meanwhile, offer comfy perches for sipping sake or—in keeping with the Prohibition theme—listening to the local jazz band that plays live a couple of nights a week.

An ikura (salmon roe) roll.

An ikura (salmon roe) roll.

The equally eye-catching sushi counter and bar, decked out with soft blue underlighting, stands steps away. Thanks to its plush scalloped barstools, it’s a decidedly cozy place to take in the true star of the “show,” as Zelkowitz calls it: the food, prepped and served up by the restaurant’s knife- and torch-wielding chefs for just 12 diners at a time. Guests can choose from a 12- or 17-course omakase, anchored by one-to two-bite dishes like the garlicky gindara (miso cod), broiled unagi (freshwater eel) and the Wagyuni—a savory marriage of seared Wagyu beef and seasonal uni (sea urchin) that corporate executive chef Kinzang Wangchuk calls a “fan favorite.” Chefs dole out each course—crafted with fresh fish sourced everywhere from New York to the waters of Japan and Spain—to patrons individually, briefly introducing each morsel before diners pop it into their mouths by hand. “The style of the sushi itself is relatively traditional,” he says, noting that it’s all about “appreciation of the quality of the fish and simplistic preparations.” Wangchuk continues: “Our approach to the customer’s experience, the atmosphere, and the service style is the very untraditional part. We are more fun and upbeat.”

Cocktail offerings

Cocktail offerings

For proof, consider the roster of cocktails Sushi by Boū offers to enhance its dishes. In a nod to the Prohibition concept, each mixed drink reinvents a classic 1920s libation with some Japanese flourishes (think: a highball with Suntory Toki whiskey, yuzu, and ginger). Not a drinker? Check out zero-proof options like the Shiso Fly—a blend of Seedlip’s Grove 42, simple syrup, shiso leaf, and seltzer—instead.

12-course omakase featuring ingredients like uni, fatty tuna, and eel

12-course omakase featuring ingredients like uni, fatty tuna, and eel

“People want a great experience and understand what we’re doing,” says Zelkowitz. “And, honestly, the response that we’ve gotten in Albany has been absolutely amazing.” Kanpai!

Sushi by Boū
42 Howard Street, Albany

Related: Cold Spring Fish Does Seafood Right in Putnam County

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!