I used to often go to robata restaurants when I lived in Tokyo — especially in wintertime. “Robata-yaki” translates literally in to “fireside cooking” where food items on metal skewers are slow grilled over hot charcoals. Aburiya Kinnosuke is one restaurant that offers the traditional robata style in NYC Traditionally the food consists of a variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables.
Robatayaki is the perfect option for cold, winter New York nights. I attempted for three consecutive weekends to book a dinner reservation without success – all available times were grabbed by others who had the same idea. Now summer is approaching! Instead I had success by going for lunch. The menu for lunch was surprisingly great. They offered a variety of Japanese traditional cuisine, which also included miso soup, rice, and dessert. I picked the “Chef’s Choice Lunch Special” whereby only 10 sets are available daily. I considered myself lucky to have teishoku of Buri-Daikon, which is simmered yellowtail. Cooked with daikon radishes in a ginger soy sauce. I also added three kinds of sashimi, just cost less than $10. I would say that you may not find any other Japanese restaurant to offer this type of quality food in NYC for lunch – especially with this price range. I will keep looking for an opportunity to book for dinner!
Price: Most lunch sets are priced less than $20
Dress code: Casual, although most clients are business professional (at lunch time)
Dining alone: Possible, but recommended for group dinners if you would like to experience an authentic Tokyo style with private nooks
Ramen is now one of the most popular cuisines among New Yorkers. When I was living in cities other than New York, I regularly was asked by expat friends where to find the best sushi. However, now in NYC, friends and colleagues ask me where to find the best ramen. Recently, some ramen lovers have asked why ramen restaurants are located close by or simply next to each other in Japan. I really had never given it much thought, but it is very common – if you go to larger cities in Japan there are “ramen streets” where ramen bars can be found side-by-side, one after the other. There are various opinions why. But for me, it is convenient if ramen places are located close each other so I can pick one based on the mood of the day. I am curious if this phenomenon will replicate in NYC.
If I had to guess, I would say that 52nd Street East or the East Village would be the most likely be where it would happen. Totto Ramen and Hide-Chan are located in the same building – I even got confused which one was which! In this case, a owner owns these two restaurants. The two shops are focusing on their respective specialties. As I introduced earlier post, Hide-Chan’s focus is pork tonkotsu, while Totto’s specialty is chicken broth.
I ordered a Miso Ramen, which has rich chicken soup, topped with a half-boiled egg, scallion, bean sprouts and onion. You can add some optional toppings. I also had a Char Siu Pork Bun.
Price: Most ramen dishes are priced less than $15, toppings an additional $1-2, and appetizers less than $10
Neighborhood: Midtown East, Midtown West, Hell’s kitchen
No Takeout, No Reservation, No Delivery, Cash Only!
Nippon is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in NYC, opened by a Japanese man whose unique background may be compared to a classic Japanese sushi chef. They normally start their career as a chef in very young age. According to NY Seikatsu, a Japanese weekly paper, Mr. Nobuyoshi Kuraoka opened the restaurant in 1963 after he finished graduate school in Ohio. He had a clear mission to introduce authentic Japanese cuisine at reasonable prices — and this strategy has kept the business going for more than 50 years. Since learning of Nippon and Mr. Kuraoka’s story and especially after seeing the restaurant, featured in the passionate documentary, Wa-Shoku ~Beyond Sushi~, I learned that Mr. Kuraoka is the one who invented “Toro” in NYC.
Nippon is not just only one of the first restaurants in the US to serve raw sushi, but it also presented various Japanese foods that are now considered “standard” – such as Tempura Bar, Soba Salad, and Beef Negimayaki. And probably first to use a wooden sushi and tempura counter in US.
I ordered assorted seasonal sashimi from the specials menu and regular Tendon. The sashimi tasted exactly as I had in Ginza/Tokyo just few weeks ago, and the tempura was the crispiest that I had ever had in US. Absolutely authentic and delicious! The history of Nippon Restaurant is the history of Japanese Cuisine in New York City. I believe this will be the same for the future.
Price: $50 for my selection including tip
Dress code: Casual and business attire or both fine for lunch/dinner
Dining alone: Comfortable – a great counter serviced by a sushi chef is also available
Japan Day @ Central Park is a highly anticipated annual event in spring that celebrates Japanese culture with New Yorkers. Japan Day kicks off with the Japan Run, followed by the Kids’ Race. Like traditional Japanese summer festivals, it provides food and activity tents as well as a stage program displaying a wide range of Japanese culture, including both traditional and contemporary performances.
Japan Day is officially supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the Central Park Conservancy, the Consulate-General of Japan in New York, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, The Nippon Club and many Japanese and American corporations.
Since its establishment in 2007, this family-friendly event has captured the interest of New Yorkers with over 50,000 people attending each year, and we have been thrilled to watch Japan Day garner the praise of the public. (http://www.japandaynyc.org)
WHEN: May 10, 2015
WHERE: Central Park, Main entrance is 69th Street and 5th Avenue.