Review - Chiyono - Japanese Food like Mama-San used to make - East Village
We live in the East Village and this is one of our favorite spots in a neighborhood with a mind-boggling wealth of culinary options.
I hesitated to post about this for fear of the secret getting out, but I figured Chowhounds needed to know. For those of us who love Japanese food but have come to realize, as one will in the first 5 minutes off the plane in Japan, that Sushi is really a minuscule part of the cuisine, Chiyono is the place. It's what I would describe as homestyle Japanese food, but very artfully prepared: Miso steamed Cod and Mackerel, Agedashi tofu, simmered pork belly in soy sauce, potato croquettes, japanese yam, oyster rice, in small to medium size portions, unfussy, simple, delicious, and satisfying.
It's a strightforward clean and pleasing environment, in that Zen kinda way, tucked in between various samey Indian joints on 6th Street's Curry Row. The place is mostly taken up by a long dark wood communal table. They have a short list of excellent sakes and beer and wine. It is run by owner / chef Chiyono, who imports and uses things like natural sea salt from Okinawa and special pickled plums from her mother's organic garden in Japan.
It is still somewhat undiscovered, been there about a year I think, so ripe for the Chowhound crowd. not sure about reservations and a bit hard to spot. It's at 328 6th Street between First and Second Avenues, 212.673.3984, but it took a few passes for us to find it.
Yes, very good food! I think it is a wonderful find, and that Chowhounds need to seek out this restaurant to eat there. I had to give it a couple of tries, as I am not familiar with Japanese food and was overwhelmed the first time I went there. But it is a gem--definately worth seeking it out!
Here's more of what hounds have already said:
We ate at Chiyono tonight, very very happy with this place. Japanese SOUL FOOD! Not highly polished, just home cooking. The female chef came out to ask everyone how they were enjoying the food. We will definitely be back.
Here is what we had (we ate a LOT):
bottle (720ml) Harushika "Spring Deer" extra dry sake ($40)
Shirasu oroshi: tiny baby white fish on a mound of wasabi-infused daikon, so refreshing and delicious
Avocado and mountain yam with flying fish roe: chunks of the veg with a touch of vinegar and the saltiness of the roe, superb
sashimi of squid and uni, wish the wasabi were freshly grated, but still nice
pork belly: pretty much the best rendition of this dish I have had in a while, the long slow cooking apparent, yummy crispy parts as well as some bonito on top
we got three fried dishes (where two would have been sufficient), in order of deliciousness:
--oysters, with tartar-type sauce, tonkatsu sauce and mustard
--sardines wrapped around shiso and pickled plum: sardines fishy-oily goodness, the strength of their flavor matched well with the tart-sweet ume and fragrant shiso
--ground pork, little deep-fried pork burgers with tonkatsu sauce and mustard sauce to dip
The pork and oyster were served with a wonderful light cabbage-radish slaw, the sardine with a nice portion of kinpira (burdock and carrot).
Special rices: one with ume (on the menu it says ume is from their mother's organic garden in Japan), one with salmon and edamame
Desserts: sesame pudding and banana-filled fried spring roll; both served with vanilla ice cream and garnished with persimmon and asian pear slices.
Wonderful Japanese comfort food!
I love this place--haven't been in awhile, I admit, because it's a trek from my home in Queens. The first time I went was the day the NY Times review came out, and I was shocked that the place was so empty. And it's been that way every other time I've gone. The food is great--not your typical Japanese-restaurant fare--but what makes me really want the place to succeed is the owner. She's so friendly and warm. We're not regulars, but every time we go, she comes over to talk to us. It almost feels like you're a dinner guest in her home. I definitely plan to go back soon!
i agree the food is very good...and Chiyono is nice...
what i dislike it the setup of the room: that communal table is a nice museum piece but it's a not very comfortable...fortunately the two 2-tops and the one 4-top are usually free...
i love the food, but i wish they'd made the place comfier...