Ginza of Japan - non-sushi Japanese in Murray Hill
This take-out place opened up a few weeks ago on 2nd Ave just below 39th. There is no sushi on their menu; the menu indicates they are "homestyle" Japanese food. The appetizers include some fresh tofu salads, edamame, yakitori, shumai, etc. The rest of the menu has several options of katsu, yerkiyaki, donburi, Japanese curry, udon, grilled or sauteed meets and some interesting specials.
I ordered the following, which was delivered in about 15 minutes:
Chuka-fu Hiya Yakko (fresh tofu and cucumber w. spicy sauce) - the sauce was nothing spectacular - soy based with some chili pepper for heat. The tofu had a wonferfully soft and smooth texture. Unfortunately, it didn't really leave me wanting more.
Kuro Buta (deep fried Berkshire pork belly in katsu sauce) - this was listed under the 'special' section of the menu. When I ordered, I asked twice if the dish was indeed Berkshire pork, and received an affirmative answer both times. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I got tonkatsu made with pork belly. The breading was nice and crispy, and delicately seasoned. The meat was good with a nice layer of fat, but I don't think it was Berkshire. When I think of pork belly, I expect to have some crackly skin, but there was none.
My husband had chicken katsu. Nicely prepared, crispy, delicately seasoned, but a bit too similar to the Kuro Buta for us to appreciate it more.
The two entrees came with rice, a cabbage salad and a small miso soup. The meats were competently fried, and did not arrive greasy.
Overall, I like the idea of having something different in the neigborhood. I would say it's better than average, but I'm missing the 'wow' factor.
I'd love to hear other opinions.
I have not tried this place but love Japanese. Is this the one I am thinking of - - hole in the wall next to the news stand with the blue awning?
Checked again and this WAS the place I asked about above. The name of the awning is 3 letters - not Ginza. They are not on Menupages yet, but I grabbed a menu by the door. I tried the same tofu appetizer and had a similar impression - it was tasty - but for one it was more than the taste I wanted quantity wise (which is not a complaint really - just to point out it is not something you may not want to eat a lot of). The flavor was good, and the tofu was delicious, but it is an intense dish. It was also more pickled than I expected - reminded me of Kim Chi on sweet fresh Tofu. For my entree I had the mackerel teryaki. The mackerel was 2 small pieces, and came with shredded cabbage and tomato. My first impression when I unwrapped the meal was "eh" but after tasting I have to say it was fresh, well prepared, and satisfying. It reminded me of some of the inexpensive food I tried when I visited Japan. It also came with a miso soup that was well done and not too salty. When I called the people I spoke with barely spoke English, so ordering took some time, but this did not bother me. I hope it does not put off others as they were pleasant and the food was delivered fast. This type of Japanese food may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if it IS the type of Japanese food you like, give them a try and support diversity in this neighborhood!