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Jun 12, 2009 12:05 AM

authentic japanese restaurants

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. Ariyoshi, the izakaya on East 53rd.

    9 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      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

        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

          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

            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

              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

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

              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

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

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  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

                i've been back to Soba Koh a couple times 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. 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

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

              1. re: Silverjay

                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

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

                  1. re: thew

                    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

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

                1. 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

                    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

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

                      1. re: uwsgrazer

                        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

                      sake bar hagi on your list for anything?

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        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

                          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.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        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

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

                          1. re: scoopG

                            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