Two of my favorite restaurants have closed within the last few weeks. Teshigotoya, an izakaya favorite in the East Village that I introduced in this blog last year, closed its doors on October 10.   Dieci is the second one that actually closed last month. I have known about Dieci’s existence for two years, and I regrettably only recently had the chance to visit again – I made it a point to do so when I heard the news that they were closing.  Dieci has been in business in the Lower East Side for over ten years and has developed quite a favorable reputation for its Italian-fusion Japanese menu.  According to their general manager, Takashi Yamada, the reason for closure is because of rent costs.


Takashi, now actually one of my friends, is excellent at pairing sake with food.  During this recent visit four other sake-loving friends just asked him to select whatever he felt was a good match for our food. I ordered a Filet Mignon Steak that I honestly believe was the best I have had in several years. It had a delicious mushroom sauce along with truffle soy reduction that matched perfectly with my Nigori Dassai sake.  One friend ordered black cod, or widely known as Gindara Saikyo, a popular line up in Japanese restaurants in NYC.  Unlike just plain grilled cod, the one here is like a rice bowl with truffled mushroom risotto and poached egg. This is somewhat of a unique method of preparation, which had me wondering about the taste.  I learned that natural juices of the fish blended into the rice risotto that created a delicious mild, savory soy flavor.


It is disappointing that I can no longer dine at such great places and/or introduce these two to fellow New Yorkers.  Unfortunately this is a sad trend in NYC (and frankly, probably true in a number of U.S. cities) where small business owners cannot afford sustaining their business because of rent increases.  But good news – Dieci is looking for a new location!  Stay tuned to this blog, as I will announce their new location and information as soon as it becomes available.

Price: Entrees $22-28

Neighborhood: East Village

Dress code: Casual

Private Party and Group Dinner: They accommodate private parties of up to 40 people for standing room and 23 people for seated dinner.



Rabbit House

Rabbit House is a new and cozy wine and sake bar located in the Lower East Side. I heard about the restaurant and owner, chef Yoshiko Sakuma, in a Japanese newspaper, and I visited one Friday evening with another Japanese food lover. There are a lot of touted hidden gems in NYC, but I think this is a real one. Behind the counter/open kitchen, we could see Yoshiko cooking and it was visible that most of dishes were made from scratch. She is also a sake sommelier, so definitely take advantage of recommended sake pairings is she is not too busy! Chef Yoshiko used to work in various high profile restaurants such as Bouley, Del Posto, and Jewel Bako, and she brings delicious and interesting foods to the warm, comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant. Her dishes are her original creations, and they taste as delicious as they are beautiful in their presentation.


We had Tako-Taco (tako is octopus in Japanese) with a seaweed sauce and Tuna Tartare with dragon fruit for starters. Her attention to detail is amazing – a very organic, homemade style with hints of Japan. We wanted to try the spare ribs, but those were all gone due to their popular demand. Instead we opted for a chicken dish and a quinoa pilaf for entrees – both exceptional in their preparation and taste – and both works of art.

The Rabbit House is a true hidden gem that won’t stay hidden for long. I highly suggest giving it a try sometime soon!


Price: $80 total including few drinks each

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, nice counter is available

Lunch: A Bento Box $14



Azasu is the restaurant I have wanted to visit for the last two years. I have seen multiple media articles giving all positive reviews as a real Japanese street-food eatery. Thanks to Timothy Sullivan, the founder of, finally I managed an opportunity to go there. Tim and his friends arranged a private sake-tasting event and I was graciously invited to join. I arrived early to do some research and was amazed at the restaurant’s décor. It almost seemed as if I were in a neighborhood eatery in downtown Tokyo. There have been a lot of izakaya restaurants that have opened in NYC over the last few years, however, I have not visited any that seem as authentic Japanese as does Azasu.


Azasu has a comprehensive menu that ranges from popular Japanese dishes such as karaage, gyoza, and takoyaki to unique choices found in NYC like kushiage. Kushiage, also known as kushikatsu, basically is some type of deep-fried meat and vegetables served on a skewer. In Japanese “age” or “katsu” are deep-fried cutlets of meat and “kushi” is the skewer. These types of dishes are my favorite appetizers, the ones I ordered at Azasu are the best of have ever eaten outside of Japan. Because kushikatsu can be made with chicken, pork, seafood, and various seasonal vegetables, it is an opportunity for this type of restaurant to show its creativity in the selection and pairings. I would have to say that Azasu is as creative as peer restaurants in Japan.


The selection of ‘cup sake’ is another uniqueness of Azasu. In Japan it is very common to find sake, especially in vending machines and train stations, in little six-ounce glass cups (equivalent to a tiny glass jar in the US). At Azasu there are almost 20 varieties of this cup sake that range from basic to high-quality (what we would call daiginjo and junmai daiginjo).


Visit Azasu during happy hour before it gests crowded – you definitely will enjoy the decorations of Japanese cartoon culture!

Price: Private Sake Tasting $40

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, but maybe good place for group gathering


NOBU NEXT DOOR – NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016


Nobu Next Door opened in 1998 as an extension of the original Nobu, has now taken on a life of its own. Its menu mirrors the original Nobu and offers Nobu To Go. Nobu Next Door is a regular participant in NYC Restaurant Week in the last few seasons. As you can imagine, it was hard to book a table during the weeks. I finally managed to get a table for 2 in the very last day of the Restaurant Week.


Overall the original Nobu and its next door share same menu for the Restaurant Week this time. For starter, they offer choice of: Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing, Black Cod Miso on Limestone Lettuce and Fluke Sashimi with Dried Miso. At Nobu last week, I ended up choosing Sashimi Salad for my starter, so this time I picked Black Cod Miso, the signature dish. It was so good and tender, I was very much wanting to have few more pieces! For main, there are 3 Choices of: Rock Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Creamy Sauce, Beef Tenderloin with Anticucho or Teriyaki Sauce and Assorted Sushi. I did beef Anticucho and my friend took shrimp then we shared. The beef tasted a bit spicy and this is the Nobu’s Peruvian influence. We really enjoyed both. You can pick a dessert either “Rhubarb Jasmine Tartlette” White Chocolate Jasmine Tea Cream with Rhubarb Raspberry Compote On Sucree Tart or “Caramel Miso Tartlette” Dry Miso Caramel Cream with Apricot Lime Compote On Chocolate Tart.




Price: three-course prix fixe dining deals for lunch ($29) and dinner ($42).

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Dress code: Smart Casual

Dining alone: Yes, there is a nice sushi counter

To go: Yes


NOBU – NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

I am exited to hear Nobu participating NYC Restaurant Week this summer both for lunch (M-F) and dinner (Sunday). Probably Nobu is one of the most famous Japanese restaurants in the world. Nobu New York, the flagship restaurant of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is collaboration between Nobu, actor Robert De Niro, producer Meir Teper and restaurateur Drew Nieporent. Nobu started his career at Japanese restaurants in Tokyo and his life around the world to create a new trend in Japanese cuisine at his first restaurant. The dishes make Nobu an innovator of new style Japanese food. The design of the restaurant evokes the beauty of the Japanese countryside with its natural textures, birch trees, wood floors and a wall made of river stones.


One of the weekdays I asked 3 office mates to join me to have a long lunch break at Nobu. It was a somewhat hard to book a table for 4 as most all lunchtime availability had been taken. I could see how much New Yorkers are exited to take advantage of dining in Nobu during the annual Restaurant Week.


For starter, they offer choice of: Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing, Black Cod Miso on Limestone Lettuce and Fluke Sashimi with Dried Miso. Black Cod Miso is a signature dish, so I wanted my friends to try, but Sashimi Salad looked so good so all of ended up. For main, there are 3 Choices of: Umami Charr with Heirloom Tomato Salad, Chicken with Anticucho or Teriyaki Sauce and Assorted Sushi. You can pick a dessert either “Rhubarb Jasmine Tartlette” White Chocolate Jasmine Tea Cream with Rhubarb Raspberry Compote On Sucree Tart or “Caramel Miso Tartlette” Dry Miso Caramel Cream with Apricot Lime Compote On Chocolate Tart.


I have dined at several Nobu restaurants both inside the US and overseas. I am amazed by every aspect that the restaurants offer. For the 3 colleagues, this is their first experience dining at Nobu and they definitely enjoyed it.

Price: three-course prix fixe dining deals for lunch ($29) and dinner ($42).

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Dress code: Smart Casual

Dining alone: Yes, there is a nice sushi counter

Great to special occasions


Morimoto – NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Morimoto NYC is a restaurant owned by famous “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto. He is best known as an Iron Chef on the TV cooking shows Iron Chef America. He received practical training in traditional Japanese cuisine in his hometown Hiroshima. Influenced by Western cooking styles, he started his global career in Japanese Fusion. He is also known for his unique style of presenting food.

I have a colleague who love the TV show Iron Chef and we were looking for a chance to have lunch at a restaurant by the Japanese Iron Chef. How lucky that Morimoto NYC is participating in the Restaurant Week.


There are 7 choices for entrée and each comes with miso soup, green salad, pickles and white rice. For deserts, 2 items are offered which are not on their regular menu. I ordered the Braised Black Cod for entrée and the Pot de Crème for dessert. My colleague got the Hamachi Poke(yellowtail) and the chocolate fondant. We shared to taste all, and everything was amazing. My cod is perfectly braised as if it melts in the mouth and beautifully decorated using some very small piece of vegetables. She joked that this is part of Japanese advanced technologies. I often order black cod whenever I see on the menu at Japanese restaurant. I would say this is the best I have ever tasted both for taste and presentation.


Overall, this place provides a great mix of American and Japanese cuisine with top-notch service, comfortable seating, beautiful interior design (even the bathroom); I will definitely be back to Morimoto to try more of their fantastic options!

Price: three-course prix fixe dining deals for lunch ($29) and dinner ($42).

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, there is a nice sushi counter

Great to special occasions


Hatsuhana – NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Every summer and winter, NYC Restaurant Week returns with a long list of restaurants in NYC. NYC Restaurant Week is promotional event where almost 400 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe dining deals for lunch ($29) and dinner ($42). The summer started from Monday, July 25, 2016 and runs to Friday, August 19, 2016. 20 Japanese restaurants are participating this summer. I have already introduced Natsumi in winter 2016, this time I would love to introduce participating Japanese restaurants and their course as many as possible.


Just 2 days after NYC Restaurant Week started, I went to Hatsuhana with friends. Hatsuhana is one of the oldest sushi restaurants that have been a sushi specialty restaurant for 40 years since 1976. Even though usual menu is available, all of us ordered the Restaurant Week course menu.


The meal is supposed to be a three-course deal, but actually it was a five-course with Miso Soup, Salad, Sashimi Appetizer, Large Bento Box and Dessert. This was a great surprise. Sashimi appetizer was marinated tuna with avocado and seaweed. It was wrapped in soy paper. The fried leek added crispy taste. The highlight is a huge Bento box that includes salmon sashimi, fluke sashimi, sesame tofu and 5 kinds of nigiri sushi. I like the salmon sashimi that tasted with creamy scallion sauce. Not only does it ensure the freshest fish possible, but it also carves up the bounty expertly. In addition, you can choose one roll sushi from 12 popular choices. This set is a great deal for seafood lover. We were almost full, but couldn’t resist a little green tea parfait.


I have dined various places during NYC Restaurant Week, but Hatsuhana is one of the best and truly I can recommend all sushi lovers.

Price: three-course prix fixe dining deals for lunch ($29) and dinner ($42).

Neighborhood: Midtown

Dining alone: Yes, there is a nice sushi counter

Delivery: yes


Tako Grill (Bethesda, MD)

I have previously introduced several restaurants in Washington, DC area, and Tako Grill is another one on the list. This restaurant used to be my favorite place when I visited DC at its previous location on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, Maryland. I recently had a chance to visit their new location on Hampden Lane for the first time. It is tucked in a small shopping area adjacent to Bethesda Row and while the space is smaller it appears more open and bright. I personally like the open grill concept so I can watch the food being prepared. The food is the same quality as before and the service is very good, too.


I took local friends and we ordered lots of different dishes to share. The izakaya menu has a great selection of home-style Japanese foods, and I know that whatever I order the taste and quality will be consistent. We ordered Nasu Itame (stir-fried eggplant and pork with a miso paste), Ohitashi (quick boiled spinach in soy sauce), and gyoza. Each dish tasted homemade and prepared with the freshest of ingredients. Tako Grill is a great place to try if you happen to be in the Washington, DC metro area. It is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro station (Red Line) and parking is also available for a charge out front.


Price: $40 per person for this evening

Neighborhood: Bethesda

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, nice sushi counter is available

Takeout/Delivery: Yes


Annual Sake Lecture & Tasting at Japan Society

Japan Society’s annual sake tasting event returned for another year with sake expert John Gauntner speaking on regionality of sake on June 8, 2016. It was co-organized by Japan Sake Export Association.


From Hiroshima’s soft, sweet brews to the clean, dry sake of snowy Niigata, regional characteristics often play a role in the flavor profile of sake.  John examined how factors such as raw materials, climate, and regional cuisine can affect the taste of sake from different parts of Japan.

The lecture was followed by a tasting reception with more than 30 kinds of premium sake, including two new brewers.


Japan Society is Japan Society is the leading U.S. organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education.





Fatty Fish

Fatty Fish is a Michelin rated Asian-inspired American restaurant located on the Upper East Side. I have dined here in the past, and I very much like their menu creativity which is slightly unusual in pure, traditional Japanese restaurants. I was recently introduced to Chef Roy and decided to visit again shortly thereafter. After two years living in NYC I feel that I have covered most of the high profile Japanese restaurants; generally speaking most menus are somewhat similar to their peers in my opinion, and I am always seeking to try something new.


When I was speaking with Roy he mentioned that he has been consistently refreshing the menu so that he can offer something innovative or perhaps a new style of cuisine. I love the concept of “East meets West” where Western culinary techniques are used to prepare oriental ingredients – something that has been trendy in the U.S. for a while now. In my eyes a majority of the fusion menus tend to have somewhat of a Japanese influence.

One weekday evening Timothy Sullivan, the Sake Samurai, and I visited Fatty Fish. Roy welcomed us and gave a quick tour of the space. I was amazed by the outdoor seating area which can accommodate 40 guests – all inside a temperature-controlled beautiful garden perfect for a special event or gathering.


We started off with a Hakkaisan bottle of sake with pan-seared edamame sprinkled with kosher salt and seasame seeds. Normally I pair sake with sashimi, however, this combination was equally as nice. We then ordered several small plates and absolutely loved the “Plumtori” chicken basket. The chicken was buttermilk-marinated and fried to a crispy golden brown and then tossed in a special house-blend dried plum seasoning. It was juicy and tender and while it looked like traditional Japanese karaage, it had a different but delightful taste. Afterwards we ordered and shared a pork bun. Pork buns are becoming popular in Asian restaurants in NYC and I haven’t really found any that are memorable and make me want to order more – until now. The ones here are not the steamed doughy kind with flavored pork stuffed in the center. The pork and the bun are served individually, and the mouth-watering meat melted in my mouth. The seasoning complemented the natural flavors of the pork, and I think I could have eaten these all evening!


I ordered curry jumbo shrimp and vegetables for my main course. This dish was Thai-inspired and my first experience of pairing sake with a coconut milk curry – something I won’t find in any traditional Japanese restaurant.   Unlike normal Thai seasoning the shrimp was mild and harmonized with the broccoli, bamboo, and greens.

Roy mentioned the he just started ramen and the “Captain’s Wild Catch” is the signature order. I am already excited to come back to try it!!

Another outstanding thing about this restaurant is the warm and friendly service. I was not surprised about that after meeting Roy, and it is very apparent that his personality reflects the attitude of the entire staff. I highly recommend Fatty Fish for a delicious meal or special occasion.

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, counter is available

Outdoor space: Amazing outdoor garden seating available

Other: BYOB