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Types of Japanese eateries in New York


Pan
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I think it would be useful and interesting for us to subdivide cuisines by category. I thought I'd start with Japanese.

Seems to me, the best-known specialty in Japanese eateries in New York - served in a wide variety of settings from pretty cheap places in the East Village to very expensive places like Nobu - is sushi/sashimi. But there's that little hole-in-the-wall otafuku place on E. 9 St., and there are soba specialists like Soba-Ya. There are also ramen places, including Ajisen on Mott St. in Chinatown, and Japanese sweet shops (one also on Mott St. comes to mind).

Are there any sukiyaki specialists in New York? Any tempura specialists? Etc. Let's make a list.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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A capital idea.

I haven't seen a sukiyaki or tempura specialist in New York (despite the name, Tempura Dan on 69th & Broadway is just a standard-issue Japanese place like you'd see anywhere). I guess the Shabu-Shabu and Shabu-Tatsu restaurants are arguably specialists in both. But these dishes seem mostly to be part of the general menu at the standard New York Japanese restaurant, which typically offers:

-sushi & sashimi

-a variety of hot and cold appetizers (hijiki, oshitashi, gyoza, etc.)

-miscellaneous entrees (negimaki, yakitori, teriyaki, katsu, etc.)

-tempura

-rice and noodle/soup dishes (sukiyaki, udon, soba, etc.)

-bad desserts

My understanding is that in Japan most of the above items are delegated to specialty restaurants that do one or a small number of things well. For example there are I'm told numerous restaurants that specialize only in eel, or only in something like oden.

A few niche specialists in New York City do come to mind, though:

-Kaiseki meals at Sugiyama, Nadaman Hakubai, Inagiku

-Wagyu steak at Otabe (which also does kaiseki meals)

-Shabu-Shabu at Shabu-Tatsu, Shabu-Shabu, and Lan

-Sake at Sakagura

-Katsu at Katsuhama

-Yakitori at Yakitori Taisho

-Takoyaki and okonomiyaki at Otafuku

(I'm not 100% sure that every one of the above will still be as stated, because some of these recollections are 3-4 years old)

And of course we have some fusiony stuff:

-Nobu, Sushi Samba, BondST

-Sumile

-Asiate

Just checking: Is teppanyaki as practiced at places like Benihana a legitimate thing? I guess it's a category either way. What about conveyer belt sushi? Robata?

Are we trying to be comprehensive in terms of listing restaurants within categories? If so we should add Honmura An to the soba specialists, certainly. And Menchanko-Tei to the soup specialists.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks for your contribution, Steven.

Sure, an effort at comprehensiveness is a good thing.

I was also going to make a comment about one of the places, but I think it's probably best to list the categories and entries and then discuss which places are best in each category.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There are also, I've heard, places in Japan that specialize in horse meat, but they haven't yet reached us here.

Might donburi be considered a specialty? Haven't seen any great examples in NY.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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There are also, I've heard, places in Japan that specialize in horse meat, but they haven't yet reached us here.

Might donburi be considered a specialty? Haven't seen any great examples in NY.

Well there are two branches of Yoshinoya here now on West 42 and East 23. The only reasons to dine in either area.

I am looking for a real "Chanko-nabe" and the best oden (so far Decibel has the best I've tasted - but I know that it's not even up to par with 7-11's counter oden in Japan).

Decibel and Sakagura are the clear winners for sake assortment.

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There are also, well there are two branches of Yoshinoya here now on West 42 and East 23. The only reasons to dine in either area.

I work accross the street from the 42nd street Yoshinoya and used to eat there a lot. But it has gone severely downhill. I think most of the Japanese management staff that ran the place have gone back home. The pickled ginger they're using now is way, way, way too salty and they don't have the good chili powder anymore. For a place that basically has two menu items, it's pretty dissapointing.

I like the izakaya places the best: Yakatori-Taisho, Village Yoko-Cho, etc. It's hard to go wrong at these places. There's a strong Korean influence in most of them, which makes the food a more boldly flavored in general. Mostly, though, izakaya places are just fun.

All the Menchanko-Tei (including Katsu-Hama and Onigashima), places are good too and show off a different side of Japanese cuisine that Westerners don't know so much about.

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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It's amazing that no one's mentioned Omen, which serves among other things, Japanese peasant food.

I've been meaning to try them out for a while now but haven't had the time. Once I get back on my feet, they're a must-visit place, along with a return to Jewel Bako.

Soba

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Once I get back on my feet, they're a must-visit place, along with a return to Jewel Bako.

Was at JB last week for my birthday and it's still amazing. Among many, many, many other things, I had o-toro from the ribcage and cheek (it looked like prosciutto it was so fatty)!

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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Just checking: Is teppanyaki as practiced at places like Benihana a legitimate thing? I guess it's a category either way.

very questionable. :hmmm: I would say Benihana Teppanyaki is not exactly authentic and traditional Japanese.

For Ramen category, I will include Menchanko-tei, Sapporo, Rairai Ken, and Menkui-tei.

Check out the latest meal!

Itadakimasu

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Soba, where's Omen? Japanese peasant food sounds like something that could really hit the spot in this frigid weather. Also, some of us need definitions of some of these things. But that's probably best left to another thread, I suppose.

I happened to walk past a place called Teriyaki Boy today, and I picked up a takeout menu. There's a chain of Teriyaki Boys. There are 8 in Manhattan (this one was on 9th between 57 and 58 Sts.), two in New Jersey (Fort Lee and Prinston [sic]), and three in Pennsylvania (two in Philadelphia and one in Harrisberg [sic]). Various dishes are available, including various types of sushi (some, like "Mexican Roll," clearly inauthentic), a few types of sashimi, Bento Boxes, and so forth, but I do think this place qualifies as a teriyaki specialist. I didn't eat there (I was in fact walking to Grand Sichuan for dinner), but it did smell good. Their prices are quite inexpensive. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who's eaten anything at any branches of this chain.

Anko, I'm glad you're participating in this thread. :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I live right near a Teriyaki Boy on the UES but gave up on the place after 3 tries. Nothing was particularly good. I wouldn't characterize them as teriyaki specialists. The name implies it, but it's really more like a fast-food version of a Japanese restaurant: pre-made sushi, mediocre noodle soups, pretty bad dumplings, and yes the standard beef-chicken-salmon teriyaki choices.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I live right near a Teriyaki Boy on the UES but gave up on the place after 3 tries. Nothing was particularly good. I wouldn't characterize them as teriyaki specialists. The name implies it, but it's really more like a fast-food version of a Japanese restaurant: pre-made sushi, mediocre noodle soups, pretty bad dumplings, and yes the standard beef-chicken-salmon teriyaki choices.

Total agreement re. Tekitaki boy.

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Soba, where's Omen? Japanese peasant food sounds like something that could really hit the spot in this frigid weather.

Omen is on Thompson, btw Prince and Spring, I think. I remember a review of the place recommending toro with quail's egg -- doesn't sound like peasant food to me.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Omen does in fact serve sushi and sashimi with unorthodox accompaniaments, but that is not what they're known for.

Click here for a mini-review of Omen.

A friend went there a few months ago and recommended the pan-seared flounder in white radish sauce and the steamed kabocha squash with tofu and vegetables. Omen used to have as its focus Japanese peasant food and to a certain extent still does (i.e., Omen noodles), but its primary current focus is food served in the style of Kyoto.

Soba

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I happened to walk past a place called Teriyaki Boy today, and I picked up a takeout menu. There's a chain of Teriyaki Boys. There are 8 in Manhattan (this one was on 9th between 57 and 58 Sts.), two in New Jersey (Fort Lee and Prinston [sic]), and three in Pennsylvania (two in Philadelphia and one in Harrisberg [sic]). Various dishes are available, including various types of sushi (some, like "Mexican Roll," clearly inauthentic), a few types of sashimi, Bento Boxes, and so forth, but I do think this place qualifies as a teriyaki specialist. I didn't eat there (I was in fact walking to Grand Sichuan for dinner), but it did smell good. Their prices are quite inexpensive. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who's eaten anything at any branches of this chain.

I believe the original Teriyaki Boy is somewhere in Manhattan.

Teriyaki Boy is a name whose rights were sold to operators wanting to use the name to open fast food sushi operations elsewhere.

My father owns a small piece of the Princeton one.

I'm not particularly impressed with most of Teriyaki Boy's stuff.

The one in Philadelphia at Liberty Place used to do so much volume

it pre-made all of its sushi.

But I believe the one we have in Princeton, it's made to order.

We don't have near the amount of business, and it's okay to do that.

I've had some pretty good sushi there.

Of course, by no means is the fish quality of the highest order.

But it is quite acceptable for takeout fast food sushi.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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What's Itzkaya?

And could you please describe the rice balls? Filled with different things, or just balls of rice put in soup, etc.?

Anko, we should go to Omen one of these days.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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What's Itzkaya?

And could you please describe the rice balls? Filled with different things, or just balls of rice put in soup, etc.?

Anko, we should go to Omen one of these days.

Izakaya are places that put as much emphasis on drinking as on eating. More snacky type stuff: yakitori, okinomiyaki, takoyaki, oysters steamed in foil, etc. Many of the places, here in the city at least, show a strong Korean influence in the cooking, with kimchee, raw liver and the like. Village Yokocho and Yakitori Taisho, Sakaguru are all examples. There's supposed to be an amazing place in midtown somewhere but the name escapes me. Like I said upthread, these places are a lot of fun in a tapas bar kind of way.

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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Izakaiya is nice mixed bar food - like they serve at Village Yokocho.

Omen is based on peasant food - but it is a million times nicer and quite pricy.

Rice balls are called Onigiri, they are actually prewrapped in triangle shapes when bought at a supermarket or a combini (7-11 type of place). Ask in any j-store if they have them - they should. Yaki-onigiri (roasted onigiri) should be available at most yakitoriya or izakaiya.

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Onigiri(omusubi) place is called Oms/b, located 45 street between Lex & 3rd. Anyone who doesn't know what Onigiri looks like please click the link below.

Onigiri Website

Izakaya is fun place to visit with a group. It is a sort of tapas place -- share several appetizers and drink japanese sake! Has anyone been to Restaurant Riki? It's on 45street between Lex & 3rd, very close to the onigiri place. Riki has a wide varity of dishes and lots of Japanese customers.

Pan! Yes, we should go to Omen. :laugh:

Check out the latest meal!

Itadakimasu

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At Kasadela we ate excellent Age Dashi Tofu, Rock Shrimp Tempura with spicy sauce, Salmon Tartare (very good), Ocha Zuke (rice soup) with ume, and Eel Donburi. We accompanied this with copious amounts of hot sake. Other people at our table had very few dishes. It was described to me as a Japanese pub, and I think that's an apt description. It's nice if some people want to eat or some want to drink.

I think Sakagura is the midtown Izkaya referred to.

And the Onigiri (which are very good) come with various fillings/toppings. At Oms/b, they are between $1.50 and $2.50 apiece. My favorite is the popcorn shrimp, but the eel is also very good.

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