i'm wondering if new york has an area similar to a "little japan" or "japantown" (ie- eateries, food stores, bookstores, etc). i'm currently studying japanese in college and home for winter break, and i thought someone on this site might know. thanks a bunch!
Head down to the E. Village. I live on 10th between 1st & 2nd and my block has three Japanese restaurants and two Japanese hair salons. 9th St between 2nd & 3rd has a sake bar, a couple of Japanese restaurants, a video store, bakery, and Sunrise Mart (above St. Marks bookstore) which is a supermarket. Two other Japanese minimarts have opened up in the last 6th months: M2M on 3rd & 11th and there's one on St. Marks & 2nd Ave.
there is a bus that leaves ~each hour from port authority to the japanese shopping plaza near the jersey side of the george washington bridge.
595 River Road,
Edgewater, NJ 07020
9:00AM - 8:00PM
(i'm not sure of the bus#, but mitsuwa usually publishes the bus schedule in an ad in the free newspaper called nyjapion).
in the foodcourt, there is a stand that serves a pancake with sweet red bean paste inside, hot off the griddle. click on the link below for a picture of one i purchased there recently.
The Japanese shopping area there is pretty nice. However Minamoto Kitchoan that sells those beautifully packaged bean paste-based desserts inside Mitsuwa is a classic big scam. The price is all in the packaging while the actual content leaves much to be desired. Divide the price by 5 to get the actual value.
"Minamoto Kitchoan that sells those beautifully packaged bean paste-based desserts inside Mitsuwa is a classic big scam"
in case anyone is confused, the ones i posted about are hot-off-the griddle, not beautifully packaged. the photo is of the larger size one. i think it was $1.25 or $1.50. the previous post was refering to pre-packaged ones sold in another area of the japanese shopping plaza.
thanks for the info, though, about the pre-packaged ones.
Interesting perspective. Unfortunately, there are no other purveyors of wagashi in the NYS tri-state area that I know of. And while wagashi is more delicate than the tear-it-open-and-down-'em kind of snacks, they are meant to be gifts for the most part, which is why there's such an emphasis on packaging. As someone else mentioned, stick to the oban-yaki (sweet bean filled pancakes) from the stand, or an an-donut (sweet bean filled donut) from the bakery for those cravings. By the way, the wagashi from Minamoto Kitchoan are pretty dang tasty if you ask me.
While there is not a real japan town like you have in the west coast cities, there are pockets of concentrated japanese businesses as in the East Village and Midtown East. Good places to look around are on St. Marks and E. 9th St from 3rd Ave going east. More than restaurants, you'll get a better sense from visiting the markets like JAS Mart on St Marks or Sunrise Mart on Stuyvesant. Both places have small video and magazine sections that might interest you. You'll also find a greater concentration of young japanese in the izakaya-type late-night hangs around the neighborhood, in such places as GO or Yakitori Taisho or Japas Karaoke on St. Marks, or at Village Yokocho upstairs next to Sunrise Mart. FYI, M2M in the same neighborhood is a korean operation, though they carry many japanese products.
Otherwise, you should look around Midtown, though it is more scattered there. Check out Yagura market on 41st near Madison, and along that block to Zaiya bakery, and Book Off, the leading japanese used book store, where you'll find plenty of young japanese perusing the stacks. Also close to Grand central is one of the larger book stores on 46th (or 47th?) and Vanderbilt, and another on 49th in Rockafeller Center -- I'm blanking on the name of the bookstores. The clientele here are more well-heeled business types, than the younger, hipper expat crowd, but still very japanese. I find the quality of japanese restaurants in midtown better than the ones downtown, albeit more subdued. Midtown is where you can also find Japanese clubs and bars, like smaller karaoke bars, some sake bars, and the discrete hostess clubs geared mostly toward the moneyed business crowds.
By the way, I wouldn't call Astoria around Broadway/31st a japantown just because a japanese convenience store has opened in the neighborhood. It is true, however, that many young Japanese are moving to Queens (mostly Astoria and Forest Hills) to beat the high costs of living in Manhattan. A greater number of middle-class expat families live in northern NJ in places like Hackensack, Edgewater, Fort Lee, and in Westchester County in the vicinity around Hartsdale or Scarsdale.