Omotenashi is a word in Japanese to describe warm hospitality. I believe people feel omotenashi in restaurants when employees anticipate guest’s needs and deliver outstanding service that seems natural — like that of a family. This type of experience or feeling is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is often difficult to replicate and find outside of Japan. Naka Naka exemplifies omotenashi right here in NYC.
I was welcomed into the cozy wooden interior at Naka Naka by friendly staff wearing kimono. The counter area was designed to look like an old, traditional Japanese house which created an ‘at home’ atmosphere for me right away. The Japanese waitress explained the daily specials in our native tongue, and she used a dry-erase board as her guide while politely commenting about each dish. She repeated this process for other guests as well — and in doing so created an enjoyable Q&A session to ensure patrons were well informed of their potential orders.
I ordered Nambanzuke (fried fish with a sweet & sour taste) as an appetizer followed by a bento box of various traditional Japanese dishes for dinner. All selections were complicated and well executed (think of a garden in Kyoto that seems simple on the surface but contains perfected details throughout) — and delicious. I left feeling like I had just eaten dinner at my grandmother’s house (with a few extra foreign guests) and thinking I found a new favorite place.
Price: $75 for my selections including two beers, two small bottles of sake, and tip
Neighborhood: High Line
Dress code: Casual
Dining alone: Small counter available but probably better to be with a friend.