Don't tell me I haven't given you the rundown on this place, which is a sentimental favorite of mine and has been for many years. I told you, don't!
When I was a newbie in town...I had worked there for five or six years, but lived in Astoria, which was practically out-of-state at that time...I met an balding young man and became his girlfriend. He had a one-bedroom apartment with a (purposely) dropped living room on East 80th Street, and a sushi restaurant around the corner.
That restaurant was Yuka, from which I ordered dinner at least two times a week, every week after I moved in there. My usual order was heavy on the trinity: tuna, yellowtail, salmon. I also liked quail egg on tobiko, but learned to stop ordering it when my boyfriend kept making gagging noises whenever he saw it.
We ate in the resturant a good deal, too, and it was there that that balding young man first proposed to me, and many months later I said yes and pretty goddam near ruined my life. But none of this was Yuka's fault.
Many years later, free of this guy and finding a new friendship with my old friend JC, we were looking for a place to lunch on the Upper East side. The big fellow pointed to Yuka and said, "Ever have the All-You-Can-Eat special here?" I had not, and so a tradition began.
We always have the AYCE and we always eat enough to qualify us as local eating champions, should any frat boys like to come uptown and challenge us. JC orders for both of us, which makes me feel grown-up, like I'm dining with a famous gourmet and man-about-town in Paris; we also like almost all the same things, which is chummy.
No one could love eel more than JC does, so that's his. He doesn't care for mayonnaise or creamy things in general, so those dishes are mine. But we're pretty much harmonious on everything else.
At lunch, I would recommend Yuka to anyone who likes an old-fashioned, quiet atmosphere, good sushi, a good price, and not too many fireworks or new-style interpretations. Yuka is a great place for a lunch with an old friend of whom you don't see enough, or a quiet hour with the Times crossword puzzle. The fish is fresh, but the ideas are a little limited. Never mind. You also wouldn't go broke.
At dinner, however, you will have a most obnoxious time if you don't arrive at 6 or before and head for the four-tops, as opposed to the two-two-tops-pushed-together. Because if you sit there, the management will seat another couple next to you, and you will be claustrophobic and unhappy. Not to mention that if you order AYCE, you are simply inviting these other people to either share your food or make comments about how much you have ordered.
So make it Yuka. Make it lunch. Make it AYCE. And you might want to call JC and me and ask us if we want to come along.