Oona Tempest, the woman behind Sushi by Bae, didn't plan on any of this when she first arrived in New York to study darkroom photography at SVA. Not the apprenticeship with Toshio Oguma, which emerged from a waitressing gig at Tanoshi while she was still a student. Not becoming one of the very few female sushi chefs in all of NYC, and refining her art (that's how Tempest thinks of it, as an art) at places like Shoji at 69 Leonard, which recently got three stars from the NY Times. And, after a series of pop-ups around town, definitely not opening her own permanent restaurant right near Union Square.

But here we are, at her spanking-new Sushi by Bae, where Tempest works her magic behind a comfortable six-seat counter, serving 90-minute, 15-course omakases three times a night. The intimate setting is key to the appeal here. A Sushi by Bae omakase is not a hushed, solemn affair, because although Tempest has a palpable respect for sushi-making traditions, she is also happy to chat and answer any questions about the fish, her techniques, how she got here, and the new challenges faced by sushi masters (and fish eaters in general) in the face of climate change.

The menu will change with the seasons and availability, but at a press dinner last week Tempest delivered a well-paced journey of flavors and textures, with plenty of surprises along the way. There was a piece of sweet raw shrimp topped with sea urchin; a wonderfully intense Japanese mackerel; three different bluefin tunas with varying degrees of fat content (the lean was marinated, the fatty given a quick torch right before serving); and a spectacular "nest" housing a marinated quail egg yolk (soy sauce, sake, yuzu) and rimmed with salmon roe. Needlefish, Hokkaido scallops, striped jackfish, cherry trout, and sea bream were among the other selections.

It's not only about the fish here, either. Tempest hand grinds your wasabi right before dinner from an imported, $100 piece of root. Licorice root salt, plum salt (a local, underground salt vendor hooks her up with all kinds of unusual varieties of the stuff), and cherry blossom leaves also made an appearance throughout the night. A generously stuffed handroll ends things, leaving you (or, at least, me) pleasantly full. Cocktails, shots, wine, sake, and beer are all readily available too.

Sushi by Bae is located at 118 East 15th Street, between Park Ave South and Irving Place, and is open on Tuesday through Saturday nights for three omakase seatings, at 6, 7:30, and 9 p.m. The cost is $110, and reservations are made available up to a month in advance (sushibybae.com)