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authentic japanese restaurants

unamuno Jun 12, 2009 12:05 AM

I'm looking for real authentic non sushi japanese restaurants.
So far I've been to Aburiya Kinnosuke,Yakitori Toto,Yakitori Torys,Sakagura and Tsukushi.
Could anyone recommend somewhere that's new for me. My budget is very flexible.

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  1. JungMann RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 06:34 AM

    Ariyoshi, the izakaya on East 53rd.

    9 Replies
    1. re: JungMann
      snaporaz RE: JungMann Jun 12, 2009 08:02 AM

      2nd Ariyoshi. Though it's not much to look at by Manhattan restaurant standards it pretty much looks like any unfussy izakaya in Japan and the food is respectably good. Kind of like Tsukushi in that respect. It's tiny so make a reservation if you go at prime time.
      I also like Soba Koh a lot - though I have yet to fully comprehend the intense reverence the Japanese have for soba (and I used to eat at the late lamented Honmura-An all the time). I mean it's very good but as far as I can tell it occupies a very special place in Japanese culinary culture - like 'if you only had one meal left' special - perhaps Silverjay can elucidate.
      And of course there's Ippudo if you're looking for ramen, though for what in Japan would be a great fast food joint they have definitely upmarketed price and decor to the level of a moderately priced restaurant.
      Also, though it is a sushiya, I recall reading somewhere that Shimizu makes an excellent katsu kare at lunch.

      1. re: snaporaz
        Peter Cherches RE: snaporaz Jun 12, 2009 08:09 AM

        Yes, not only has Ariyoshi been good for some time, it recently got better with the arrival of a new chef. I go for lunch all the time. One of the lunch waitresses also works evenings at Ippudo (she's from Hakata).


        1. re: snaporaz
          Silverjay RE: snaporaz Jun 12, 2009 08:33 AM

          I eat soba at home all the time and occasionally at restaurant for lunch, but can't really fathom the idea of going to a soba restaurant for destination dinner dining. This is a Manhattan phenomenon. In Japan, you'd eat at soba places for lunch, maybe after work, or walking within your neighborhood but never, for example, to meet friends for dinner. There are a lot of soba places that won't even open on weekend evenings. On weekdays, they usually won't stay open later than 8 or 9. Even highly regarded places are considered lunch spots.

          1. re: Silverjay
            snaporaz RE: Silverjay Jun 12, 2009 09:13 AM

            Interesting - I must have misunderstood the place soba occupies in the Japanese culinary pantheon - and your answer makes more sense to me. As always thank you for the explanation.

            1. re: snaporaz
              kikisakura RE: snaporaz Jun 15, 2009 08:10 PM

              Just to adding my two cents to soba's place in Japanese culture. I think what silverjay says holds true for most people and for the majority of soba shops. I didn't take soba all that seriously either till a soba restaurant opened a few minutes away from our house that made me realize that there is a whole new world of soba out there. Since then, I've been a convert and I definitely travel in search of the perfect tray of zaru soba. Likewise, many people drive hours to eat my neighbor's soba.

              My next stop is going to be Sakizawa in Nagano whose owners farm and mill their own buckwheat. Talk about slowfood. BTW, soba kaisek, an elaborate multi-course dinner or lunch, is offered by many finer soba restaurants (be aware, link contains food porn):


              Oh, how I wish I were in Japan. Sorry I'm not much of a help in finding authentic soba places in Manhattan. :P

            2. re: Silverjay
              TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis RE: Silverjay Jun 12, 2009 04:59 PM

              Soba & uni makes for one fine summer-time lunch.
              Honmura-An is down ... what do you suggest?

              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis
                guttergourmet RE: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis Jun 20, 2009 04:36 AM

                15 East serves the uni soba and the soba chef is from Honmura An.

                1. re: guttergourmet
                  ian9139 RE: guttergourmet Jun 20, 2009 10:50 AM

                  But only for dinner... I think. Last summer when I called to see if they had soba for lunch they said no.

              2. re: Silverjay
                Simon RE: Silverjay Jun 16, 2009 05:04 PM

                i've been back to Soba Koh a couple times recently...one on hand, i love the excellent tempura (esp the ebi), the cuteness of the place, the wood floors, the fact that they serve wine, the jazz, the service, etc...but on my two recent visits, i found their soba to lacking in buckwheat and a bit mushy...will have to try Soba Totto sometime to compare...

          2. Silverjay RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 07:14 AM

            Chiyono on 6th is good, authentic homestyle Japanese. Matsugen, downtown, is a newish place in the Jean-Georges Vongerichten mini-empire. EN in the West Village is a branch of a Japanese chain- though CH coverage has been less than stellar. Hakata Ton Ton, a bit more east has gotten accolades here though. Kyo Ya and Sugiyama get brought up a lot for kaiseki cuisine. I often hear good things about Omen in Soho. Moderately priced places like Natori, Naniwa, and Ise usually do some things pretty well.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Silverjay
              thew RE: Silverjay Jun 17, 2009 04:59 PM

              i ate at omen's sister place in kyoto. very good stuff

              1. re: Silverjay
                foodwhisperer RE: Silverjay Jul 21, 2009 10:43 PM

                Omen used to be one of the few kaiseki- ish places. But its not really too good. Kyo Ya is excellent. Kitano Hotel also, En has improved tremendously Im not sure what happened but the staff is more Japanese and the food is 1000 times better than it was last year. Soba Koh has good soba I think about same as Soba ya ,, the duck appetizer is good at soba koh, and I like that i can get fish guts ( watta at soba ya).
                the tempura at soba koh is ok,, buit i must say definitively that there is no good tempura in the US including california. Japan has tempura that is in a whole other dimension than tempura served here.. A real tempura master trains for same years like a sushi chef. It is an art, and perfect tempura is something to savour.

                1. re: foodwhisperer
                  thew RE: foodwhisperer Jul 22, 2009 06:39 AM

                  i disagree about the tempura. for example the anago tempura at matsuri is divine.

                  1. re: thew
                    foodwhisperer RE: thew Jul 22, 2009 05:27 PM

                    Thew, the anago tempura at Matsuri tastes great, and it might be great compared to other places here. . IMHO it doesnt compare with tempura in Tokyo

                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      thew RE: foodwhisperer Jul 22, 2009 07:45 PM

                      we will just have to happily disagree on that last point. but yes, the anago there tastes great, and now i want to go back and have some

              2. k
                kobetobiko RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 10:54 AM

                I second Silverjay's suggestion on Sugiyama, Hakata Tonton, and Kyo Ya. Umi no ue, riki, Hagi are ok.

                1. E Eto RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 11:23 AM

                  Besides what has already been mentioned, here are a few more suggestions.

                  Katsuhama for tonkatsu along with their expanded izakaya menu items.
                  Takesushi for kushi-age, as well as the kaiseki dinners.
                  Ise for a decent kamameshi.
                  Torishin for the best yakitori in NYC (I like it better than the Totto chain)
                  Gyu-Kaku for their happy hour yakiniku deals (a good recession buster)
                  Donburiya for the donburi lunches as well as the izakaya fare. Kind of inconsistent, but the last couple visits have been pretty good. Upswing maybe?
                  Hatsuhana Park for the ladies set dinner, which might be the best deal in town, but only for the ladies. Decent small plate menu as well.
                  Not so high on Izakaya Riki these days, but I do like the Yakiniku Izakaya Riki better.
                  Udon West in midtown east for motsu-nabe.
                  Menchanko-tei only for the menchanko dishes. Otherwise, I'd avoid the other parts of the menu.
                  Naniwa for the nabe menu.
                  Ryo Yu for the nabe dishes as well. But these might not be on offer during the summer.
                  Go Go Curry for katsu curry.
                  Tebaya for Nagoya style chicken wings as well as the miso-katsu sandwich
                  Lan for shabu shabu, as well as the tasting menu.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: E Eto
                    Peter Cherches RE: E Eto Jun 12, 2009 04:44 PM

                    Which Ise are you talking about? I'll have to give Donburi-ya another chance. I've been to Katsuhama twice. The second time, within the last 1/2 year, I felt they had slipped a bit, but it could have been an off day. I also thumb up Sugiyama.

                    1. re: Peter Cherches
                      uwsgrazer RE: Peter Cherches Jun 12, 2009 06:17 PM

                      I like the Ise on W 56th, btwn 5/6. That's the only I've ever tried.

                      1. re: uwsgrazer
                        Peter Cherches RE: uwsgrazer Jun 13, 2009 06:35 AM

                        It's hard to tell whether they're all connected and how. I went to W. 56 once, now I work closer to E. 49, and they do great lunch specials, but I hear the one in the Wall Street area has (or had a few years ago) a sushi chef who had worked at Nobu. I've never been to the downtown one.

                    2. re: E Eto
                      bigjeff RE: E Eto Jun 18, 2009 06:46 PM

                      sake bar hagi on your list for anything?

                      1. re: bigjeff
                        E Eto RE: bigjeff Jun 18, 2009 07:11 PM

                        Hagi is good for drinking. They have the best prices on a variety of shochu and sake. The food? Good value, but quality-wise? Not so much.

                        1. re: E Eto
                          Silverjay RE: E Eto Jun 18, 2009 08:10 PM

                          Agreed. Solid inexpensive drinking spot. Reasonable bottle prices. As we've covered in the past, best to order from the specials/ seasonal menu. Value over quality but a broad selection of items. Welcome to the world of most izakaya in the universe. Better vibe than Riki too. Good for what it is.

                    3. scoopG RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 01:45 PM

                      Donguri on the UES.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: scoopG
                        thew RE: scoopG Jun 12, 2009 01:49 PM

                        i used to love donguri, but haven't been there since the old owners left a few years ago. is it still as good as it was?

                        1. re: thew
                          scoopG RE: thew Jun 12, 2009 02:21 PM

                          I think so. The current Chef Kagawa mentored under the former Chef Fujita according to their website.

                          1. re: scoopG
                            Love to Eat RE: scoopG Jan 16, 2010 10:40 PM

                            I haven't been in over 2 years, but used to go evey month or two with the old chef. DH and I went several times when new chef started, and didn't like it as much. I can't say the quality necesarily changed, but we just found less on the menu that we enjoyed and less of the unusual seasonal items on the specials menu.

                            309 E 83rd St, New York, NY 10028

                      2. b
                        brettnyc RE: unamuno Jun 12, 2009 03:02 PM

                        I haven't been yet, but I remember Rockmeisha in the West Village getting some good reports.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: brettnyc
                          D...DF RE: brettnyc Jun 15, 2009 09:30 AM

                          Rockmeisha is solid. There are occasional misfires in execution but the food and vibe are pretty great. The ramen is unheralded and wonderful. Also love the okra.

                          1. re: D...DF
                            brettnyc RE: D...DF Jun 15, 2009 11:13 AM

                            Sounds great, will have to get there and try the ramen/okra.

                          2. re: brettnyc
                            guttergourmet RE: brettnyc Jun 20, 2009 04:39 AM

                            Rockmeisha and Hakata Ton Ton for tonsuku (pig's feet).

                          3. oonth RE: unamuno Jun 13, 2009 10:49 AM

                            A Japanese friend of mine in NYC was recently talking up Kajitsu (http://www.kajitsunyc.com/) which is Shojin cuisine. She was impressed by both the food and the atsukan (warmed sake). It's formerly the site of Ebisu.

                            Any hounds been?

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: oonth
                              Stella1607 RE: oonth Jun 15, 2009 08:10 PM

                              Yes, this restaurant serves real kaiseki.... I mean "authentic." If you've been to Kyoto, you know what I'm talking about. Kajitsu is all about Kyoto: food, presentation, decor, service, dishware. There is nothing like this in NYC. The chef is young so that he seems to enjoy using American produce as well, which was quite impressive.

                              1. re: Stella1607
                                snaporaz RE: Stella1607 Jun 15, 2009 08:22 PM

                                Not to undermine Kajitsu, which I've heard is terrific, but aren't Sugiyama and Rosanjin closer to "authentic" Kyoto-style kaiseki? Though related, my understanding is that Shojin ryori is its own, separate, strictly vegetarian thing.

                                1. re: snaporaz
                                  Stella1607 RE: snaporaz Jun 15, 2009 08:35 PM

                                  Kaiseki was originally vegetarian cuisine. But now kaiseki is more like a Japanese version of haute cuisine that includes fish and meat. I heard the executive chef of Kajitsu worked at Kyoto Kitcho for many years, which means he knows what kaiseki is (at least more than we do.)

                                  1. re: Stella1607
                                    TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis RE: Stella1607 Jul 18, 2009 11:16 AM

                                    I was always of the impression, perhaps incorrect, that kaiseki has its roots in tea and is not strictly vegetarian in the way of shojin ryori which is grounded on Buddhist precepts.

                                    1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis
                                      foodwhisperer RE: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis Aug 12, 2009 04:07 PM

                                      "Temple Kaiseki" in Kyoto is mostly tofu based dishes,

                            2. d
                              Dvrc80 RE: unamuno Jun 13, 2009 11:20 AM

                              GoGo Curry. Only authentic Japanese curry shop in New York and damn good.

                              1. squid kun RE: unamuno Jun 13, 2009 11:25 AM

                                Good list, folks. Some place info ...

                                141 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

                                Yakitori Totto
                                251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                56 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                Go Go Curry
                                273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

                                144 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

                                309 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                                318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                                152 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

                                En Japanese Brasserie
                                435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

                                Yakitori Torys
                                248 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022

                                Aburiya Kinnosuke
                                213 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

                                226 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

                                211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

                                Tori Shin
                                1193 1st Ave, New York, NY 10065

                                86 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10003

                                34 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003

                                251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                309 E 83rd St, New York, NY 10028

                                11 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

                                4 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

                                328 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

                                805 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                                Hatsuhana Park
                                237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10017

                                58 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                                131 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

                                43 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                58 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                Hakata TonTon
                                61 Grove Street, New York, NY 10014

                                11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

                                Kyo Ya
                                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                300 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017

                                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                137 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

                                Yakiniku Izakaya Riki
                                250 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022

                                Rio & You
                                328 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

                                56 Pine St, New York, NY 10005

                                241 Church Street, New York, NY 10013

                                151 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                                Udon West
                                11 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                Udon West
                                150 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

                                1026 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                                414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                                113 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: squid kun
                                  Skillet Licker RE: squid kun Jun 14, 2009 05:17 PM

                                  Go Go Curry is quite good, but it is not great and is a fast food restaurant (albeit a civilized one). For rapturously delicious housemade-from-scratch curry in a thoroughly Japanese atmosphere, the only option is Curry-ya. Their dry curry (an occasional special) was the best ever. Come to think of it, so is their ("wet") curry. They are perfectionists. For curry fans, this is as close as you'll get to heaven.

                                  1. re: squid kun
                                    bigjeff RE: squid kun Jun 18, 2009 06:47 PM

                                    squidkun, the 'place' police! thank you though, perfect.

                                    1. re: squid kun
                                      foodwhisperer RE: squid kun Aug 12, 2009 04:10 PM

                                      long list squid.. some i like some i dont. but 2 are underrated one is En which has improved dramatically. and the other is Chiyono which I love, maybe its the "location" and "decor" and the homestyle feel

                                      1. re: foodwhisperer
                                        squid kun RE: foodwhisperer Aug 13, 2009 01:45 AM

                                        Ya, I was just supplying info on places mentioned earlier in this thread. Chiyono's on my list; still haven't been.

                                    2. o
                                      ozmotion RE: unamuno Jun 16, 2009 01:49 AM

                                      for ramen, my three favorites are ippudo, minca, and setagaya (in not particular order as it really depends on your taste, but if i had to pick just one, it'd be ippudo, though its not the best bang for the buck).

                                      1. raji212 RE: unamuno Jun 16, 2009 05:26 AM

                                        Soba Koh and Sobaya are very good, but I'd suggest going to Soba Totto for a more well-rounded restaurant and menu, the stellar service you get with Mr. M's restaurant, great soba with bite, freshmade every day (AFAIK) as well as a shochu-bar up front. They are of course sisters with AK, Yakitori Totto and Torys -
                                        I actually had a very good curry at Hiromi's Place in Soho which is much like the home-style restaurants you will find in Japan vs. Go-Go which is a chain in Japan and yes close to places like CocoIchiban.
                                        UminoIe should be highlighted as somewhere to get authentic Okinawan cuisine now that Suiba has closed. I haven't been there in a few years but it was always very good when I went and the owners very kind.
                                        I'm glad to see theatrical clip joints like Inakaya and Ninja off the list.
                                        I never have seen either Ariyoshi as something better than a decent izakaya that was subject to the same cabal of Manhattan suppliers that a lo of this list is - that's why the Sunnyside location seemed to be better...
                                        I don't see Kamui Den on here but I'm certain it's gotten play on here as I no doubt see CHers there every time I go. That said, there are about 5 dishes on his menu that are executed reliably well, including his ribeye and jidori.
                                        Saburi is the last I'll write about here - the only wafu-chuuka you will find in the city, and my favorite Hiyashi Chuuka in the city, just in time for the summer.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: raji212
                                          Silverjay RE: raji212 Jun 16, 2009 06:06 AM

                                          Actually Uminoie is not Okinawan cuisine. The girl who runs it is from an island in Nagasaki Prefecture. The menu is a standard eclectic koryori-ya, with no particular attention to Okinawa food. I think it's better as a second or third stop in the evening for shochu and snacks rather than a dinner destination...There used to be a grumpy girl from Osaka working there as well, but not sure if she's there anymore.

                                          1. re: Silverjay
                                            raji212 RE: Silverjay Jun 16, 2009 06:31 AM

                                            You're right, and that's messed up because I actually had dinner with the owners. That said, Nagasaki is as about as far west as you'll go without going to okinawa, and she served me a goya champuru while I was there, and this was 5 years ago

                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                              Simon RE: Silverjay Jun 16, 2009 05:00 PM

                                              she's still there...lol

                                              i had some mediocre goya champuru there a few nights ago...

                                            2. re: raji212
                                              thew RE: raji212 Jun 16, 2009 07:35 AM

                                              i ate at nippon last week. great soba noodles, they have a farm in canada where they crow their own buckwheat and soy beans. place was empty on a friday though - living(barely) on past glory

                                              1. re: thew
                                                foodwhisperer RE: thew Jul 21, 2009 10:50 PM

                                                i'll assume Thew is talking about Nippon Soba. But Nippon sushi on 52nd is one of the first sushi places I tried way back when ,,IT was excellent back in the day when there were only a few sushi bars in NYC. I think im going back and see how it holds up by todays standards.

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                  cubeoccupant RE: foodwhisperer Jul 22, 2009 06:12 AM

                                                  Soba Nippon's soba salad is one of my favorite salad dishes in the city, Restaurant Nippon also serves the same dish, but Soba Nippon's version is far superior as they put in more hijiki, more meat, and they top theirs off with fried soba noodles which add good crunch to the dish.

                                                  I've heard from many Japanese ex-pats that one of the best Japanese curry in New York is the one served at Restaurant Nippon. Story goes that, when Hideki Matsui (Yankees) came over to NY from Japan, he frequented Nippon but always told the owners that their curry was off. So when Matsui's parents were in town, the chef asked Matsui's mom for her recipe - and that is what they have been serving for several years. I don't remember the price - but I think it was slightly pricy for a bowl of curry,I always skipped the curry at Nippon because I couldn't quite justify the price. Has anyone had their curry? Any feedbacks?

                                                  1. re: cubeoccupant
                                                    bigjeff RE: cubeoccupant Jul 22, 2009 08:32 AM

                                                    you'd think that matsui would just go to Go!Go!Curry! but maybe the affinity for the curry shop to Matsui is only one way.

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