Monthly Archives: September 2016

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.

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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

http://www.rabbithouse.nyc

Azasu

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 UrbanSake.com, 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.

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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.

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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).

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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

 

http://www.azasunyc.com