Japanese Restaurants and Japanese Bakeries
I will be visiting to NYC later this month (August) and was looking to see if anyone knows of any good Japanese Restaurants and Japanese Bakeries that are around The Roosevelt Hotel, where I will be staying with my family? When doing a search over the Internet I found the Menchanko-Tei Restaurant just down the street from the Hotel and Minamoto Kitchoan in Rockefeller Plaza. I've read of a lot of good things about Kyotofu on these boards but that's a little distance from the Hotel, I think. Also I'd like to find some of those green tea truffles that are shown on:
You will have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to see them. If these are the same kind that were sent to me from a friend of mine in Japan (attached picture) all I can say is WOW!! I love them!!
Thanks for any help!
In the midtown area (East and West) there are plenty of Japanese restaurants to choose from:
For sushi - Sushi Yasuda (better rice) and Kuruma Zushi (better fish)
For izakaya - Aburiya Kinnosuke (for robata grill and fish dishes) and Yakitori Tottos (for yakitori, chicken dishes, etc)
Sakagura is good for sake. Sushi and food is decent.
Sugiyama is great for Kaiseki if you are interested.
Inagiku for tempura, though I won't say it's a must.
Kyotofu for desserts is great!
I won't bother with Menchanko Tei unless you really want ramen or soba. There are better ones in East Village, and if you are interested, let us know and we can list out other options in other areas in the city.
Chikalicious is lovely and worth a visit, but I wouldn't classify it as Japanese; the times I've been there, iirc the desserts have all been Western.
The sweet shop at Rockefeller Center is Minamoto Kitchoan, mentioned by the OP. It's a great place to buy traditional treats such as a variety of mochi-derived dumplings stuffed with red bean paste, chestnuts, etc. They also sell wagashi, exquisite fruit gels and other prettily packaged delights. It is not a sit-down place. It's near Kinokuniya, a comprehensive Japanese book store.
If you don't mind going downtown, there is a Japanese bakery on 9th St. near 3rd Ave. (I forget the name). Like the myriad bakeries in Japan, they sell Japanese versions of western desserts such as green-tea flavored cakes, bean-paste filled pastries, maybe even castella. If you head further east on 9th st., you will find several Japanese restaurants such as Soba-ya (hand made soba/udon) and a yakiniku place and a hole in the wall selling tako-yaki and okonomiyaki. There's also a Japanese-style tea place called Cha-ya.
Thank you to everyone for your responses! I will take all the information and look into each restaurant/bakery mentioned. I'm glad there's plenty of choices to choose from! :) Yes, my family and I are big on the ramen and soba. One of the reasons we want to stop in for a visit to Menchanko Tei. User "kobetobiko" mentioned there were better ones in the East Village though. Can anyone list which ones those might be? Also I had seen a place called Wave Sushi Restaurant on 538 Madison Avenue (at 54th Street) that seems worth visiting. Would anyone recommend Wave Sushi? Lastly, is there a good place where one could go for some okonomiyaki? I know it's a lot in asking but since we'll be in town for a week, it would be nice to visit as many restaurants/bakeries as we can. :)
For okonomiyaki, if you're spending time in the E. Village area, you might try Go, on St. Mark's Place (8th St. bet. 3rd and 2nd Ave., closer to 2nd.) Besides okonomiyaki, they have a variety of izakaya-type fare. As stated above, Otafuku, a little hole-in-the wall on E. 9th serves mainly takoyaki and okonomiyaki, but doesn't have much room for sitting.
If you like Kyushu-style pork-broth ramen, I recommend Minca on 5th St. bet. Ave. B and C. Since I like that style, it's my favorite ramen in NYC; others find it too heavy/fatty. Other CH's like Rai Rai Ken on 10th bet. 1st and 2nd.
Sakagura isn't that far from your hotel, you can purchase the truffles from there, last time I went, they also had black sesame ones. Also on 41st street between 5th and madison you'll find some japanese eateries, most notably cafe zaiya which has a beard papa inside and a bakery section (the green tea pudding is really good). Otafuku in the east village does okonomyaki and takoyaki, there's also a bunch of japanese restaurants around that area including cecil crepe cafe where they make crepes with red bean filling and sponge cake. Kyotofu is not that far if you take a cab, it's not even that far of a walk, i love their original sweet tofu with brown sugar syrup.
There's Oms/b, a place with fresh and creative onigiri just down the street from Menchanko-Tei on 45th Street.
For the East Village ramen places, the two most folks talk about are Setagaya and Momofuku. Worth trying for ramen lovers. I also like Men-Kui-Tei in Midtown.
There's a lot of good suggestions so far. Cafe Zaiya and Panya are good examples of the standard Japanese bakery (panya). Panya's baked goods are hit or miss, and Zaiya tends to approach the exactness of the corporate cafeteria-like places in Japan. Not great, but probably looks the most Japanese of the panyas. The cafeteria style food there is OK too. The bakery items are the best things. Minamoto Kitchoan is a typical wagashi-ya (Japanese confectionery). They carry all the seasonal items and generally do a good job of it. I'm not sure where they make the stuff, but it's become the only national wagashi chain, as they're attached to all the Mitsuwa stores in the US as well. For patissieres (that's what they're called in Japanese as well), try Lady M in the upper east side, for typical Japanese patisserie items like mont blanc cakes, or mille fuille crepe, etc. Cafe Zaiya tries their hand at these too, and it's pretty competently made as well, but some items taste like they're made commercially. For choux cream (cream puffs), a Japanese favorite sweet snack, try the two main competitors, Beard Papa and Choux Factory. They're both pretty good, and offer their own different styles.
Sakagura, Cha-an, Kyotofu, Chikalicious offer good western style desserts with Japanese twists. Sometimes it's not so apparent (or successful), but generally high-level stuff. Cha-an was opened by the former pastry chef of Sakagura (and the desserts at Sakagura are still based on her recipes, I believe, including the truffles).
As for Japanese restaurants, there are quite a lot in the area around your hotel. The closest best option might be Hatsuhana Park on the Park Ave extension at 45th St. Also within a couple blocks is Katsuhama, which specializes in tonkatsu. If you want okonomiyaki, check out the izakayas in midtown, like Hagi or Riki (also on 45th). Don't bother with the ramen at Menchanko-tei.
re: E Eto
Wow, what a great list of suggestions, E_Eto. I'll have to make a checklist and try everything I've missed up to now.
Curious: What do you think of Onigashima, right above Menchanko-tei? I think it's by the same owners. I've always enjoyed the soba and udon there, but I'm far less knowledgable than you are about what's authentic and well made.