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Dec 18, 2008 10:56 AM

In need of help :(

Hello everyone!

I know that this is the noobiest thing to do on forums, but I am in a deep pickle (ha, food joke!) Please forgive me. I've been searching, but haven't come up with any conclusions - and I need to make a choice by today (probably?)

I want to take my girlfriend out to eat for her birthday (Saturday 12/20). I haven't been able to get her a gift that I think she'd love; all attempts have failed. So I want to at least take her out for a nice dinner.

She likes Japanese food (sushi & non-sushi), but I don't want to take her to the place that we always go to in Brooklyn. I will be in/around central park (north) for most of the day, but anywhere that we can get to via subway in a reasonable amount of time will be fine. I know that St. Marks/Astor Place has some awesome sushi places, but I don't know any well enough.

If possible, I was looking for a place that might have something else than just the food. My friend recommended Murimoto, and Blue Ribbon, but from what I've heard they aren't worth the price. I'm looking for a decently priced place (not more than $100-120 for the both of us). I'm not looking for trendy, but birthday-date related (quiet setting).

I'm also open to other types of places (besides Italian) that might fit the description (birthday-date/non-routy). Tapas sounds interesting.

Again, I apologize for the type of post that this is, but time is running out. I appreciate your help very much.

Thank you,


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  1. Murimoto is over-rated and Blue Ribbon is good, but may get too expensive for your budget. Here are two rec's, both near train stops.

    LAN in the E.Vllg - Japanese food. They have really interesting dishes, a tasting menu approx. $50-60pp and it's a nice ambiance.

    MERCAT in NOHO - Tapas. Very good food, reasonable prices, great b-day/date place. Not too big. If you go, ask for a table upstairs (they have a small seating area downstairs).

    1. On the upper east side I think UVA (with a reservation in the heated garden) could fit the bill but it is sort of italian -- however you can try small plates there and it's really delicious. This board says a lot of good things about Sushi of Gari. If you search for sushi on the board you're sure to find good places in your price range. Hope that helps a little! Good luck!

      1. > St. Marks/Astor Place has some awesome sushi places

        Not really, most of what is on St Marks is cheap yakitori joints where you can eat and drink for cheap. Lots of loudness, crowds, and drinking. Not really a good birthday dinner.

        For really excellent Japanese food (sushi and otherwise) for a birthday, I would choose either Kyo Ya or Sushi Azabu (call ASAP).

        Kyo Ya is a modern looking Japanese restaurant that serves kaiseki cuisine. They described themselves as "upscale home cooking" to me and it seems to fit the bill. There is some raw fish on the menu (very fresh sashimi platters, sometimes fish from Japan) as well as bozushi, a type of pressed sushi. No dragon or California rolls here. I think $120 for the two of you would work quite well, and it is surprisingly spacious for a Manhattan restaurant. The service is excellent.

        Sushi Azabu is a very good sushi restaurant. It is not that well known because it is located in the basement of a bar and grill. However, the New York Times reviewed it a little while ago, and it is a very small sushi restaurant (a bar + 3 booths, total) so I would call for reservations ASAP. Sit at the bar. You can do a sushi set for $50pp if I recall correctly. The sushi chef is very professional and best of all, will feed you nigiri pieces one piece at a time. He makes each piece, sauces it in front of you, and sets it down on your plate. Exquisite fish, excellent service, and a cool, hidden location. I think it would make for a very nice birthday dinner.

        Ushiwakamaru might also be a possibility but the atmosphere is not very birthday-ish and quarters are a bit cramped. And it's very popular, so you may not be able to get a reservation at this late date.

        Blue Ribbon is alright as a Japanese restaurant. Their cooked and fusiony dishes are more interesting to me. They are kind of middle of the road when it comes to fish quality. Also, they don't take reservations.

        To me, Morimoto is more style than substance unless you sit at the omakase bar. This is different from the omakase menu. The omakase bar seats only 8 and the chef cooks just for you. It is $200pp and up.

        1. Thank you, I appreciate the help very much! I'll check these places out, hopefully I can make a reservation by tomorrow (if they take reservations, that is).

          But I just realized that perhaps I don't know how tapas works. I can just order the Tapas as a meal? I assume we'd need a few of them? lol.

          Thanks again!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sabin057

            I would suggest either Sakagura or Aburiya Kinnosuke.
            Both are in midtown east, so should be relatively to get reservations at such short notice. Also, Sakagura is pretty romantic and you can try to get the private booth at Aburiya if you want to.
            Most importantly, the price is right, and the food is excellent. While they don't serve sushi, sashimi and cooked food at both places are uniformly good. Aburiya has a set dinner too that's about 40-50, right within your budget