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Aug 29, 2009 05:43 PM

Looking for a good okonomiyaki/yakitori restaurant

My 20th birthday is coming up in a few days and I was wondering what was the best place to take a group of around 15 people to for some japanese food. I was actually looking for more of a yakitori/okonomiyaki style restaurant that can accommodate the large amount of people with ease. Some of us will be 21 and some will be underage so we're not completely set on any alcohol for the night. Can anyone recommend a good place?

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  1. Hakata Tonton makes excellent okonomiyaki with pig's feet. As for Yakitori, Yakitori Toto, Yakitori torys and Aburiya Kinnosuke are all very good. I've also heard that Yakitori Taisho and Tori shin are excellent.

    Although, I'm not sure if these places will work well for 15 people, because they are all very small. All of the really good authentic Japanese restaurants in NYC are very small.

    9 Replies
    1. re: unamuno

      I wouldn't put Taisho anywhere on a list of good yakitori places. It's a scene more than a food destination. But it might be fun for a group of young folks who aren't so experienced with the style of cuisine. I think they even make okonomiyaki. I would place Yakitori East on 44th St above Taisho for what the OP is looking for. Totto, Torys, Tori Shin might be a bit too austere for a group this young. Izakayas like Riki or Donburiya might be an option to accommodate a large group.

      1. re: E Eto

        Agree with Eto that Taisho is not worth going unless you want cheap beer and are ok with mediocre fill-your-stomach japanese food (they do have okonomiyaki, but not good at all). I think Totto should be ok for OP's age group as there are enough meat, rice, and noodle dishes that even people who don't like offals should be able to find something that they like. You do need to reserve in advanced as there is no way to fit party of your size by walking in.

        Aburiya Kinnosuke isn't a yakitori-ya and probablyy won't work for your group.

        If you are open to the kind of Japanese food you want, you may want to consider Japanese BBQ. Gyukaku may not serve the best food in town but should work well for people of your age and can fit big parties.

        1. re: kobetobiko

          I know Aburiya Kinnosuke isn't a Yakitori place. It's a robata place. Who cares. They're both Japanese style charcoal grilled meat with sweet Japanese BBQ sauce.

          1. re: unamuno


            What you said about Yakitori vs robata grill is like saying Burgers and Sandwiches are the same because both have meat tucked inside two pieces of bread. But for most people they are totally different.

            As a Japanese I consider yakitori and robata grill two different things and I do care. If they are the same to you, that's fine.

        2. re: E Eto

          Really I thought Yakitori Taisho is supposed to be one of the best authentic yakitori places in NYC.

          What do you mean by too austere?

          1. re: unamuno

            taisho is low end, but cheap and open late. I'd rather go to the place upstairs around the corner (also not the best but better than Taisho) for yakatori and they even have korean bbq in the back

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              not village yokocho right? but the korean-y place? had a horrible meal at yokocho, would never rec. their yakitori although their menu pretty much covers everything, okonomiyaki included.

            2. re: unamuno

              Taisho is really bad, imo. I used to eat there pretty often and the last time I went was just horrible with a lot of off-putting food issues. Notably, bone fragments in the tsukune and extremely tough beef yakitori. Yuk, waste of money.

        3. It's worth noting that okonomiyaki and yakitori are not related cuisines and are not typically served at the same establishment. For group size, I double recommend the izakaya option. Hagi has a separate area that might be able to be cordoned off for a large group. They have some yakitori items on their menu.

          1. Here's my review of the okonomiyaki stand down in the East Village:


            I like Yakitori Torys and Soba Totto for yakitori. They're nicer than Taisho and have more to offer, though they're a little more expensive.

            1. Looks like i'll be going to Hagi and ive reduced the number of people to around 8. I think if we go on a Thursday night it won't be as busy? Thanks a lot for the input.

              1 Reply
              1. re: himo1

                You'll have to get there when they open or make sure to reserve if you're going at prime dining hours. Hagi is always crowded, especially on a Thursday night (Thursdays are the new Fridays, you know). I didn't suggest Hagi since it would have been impossible for a group the size you had originally. But whenever I go with more than 4, I make sure someone is there when the doors open. Luckily, the people who I go with most often work across the street. Also, don't expect much from the food. It's OK. You go there for the well-priced drinks, and some small plates.

              2. Appropos of nothing and everything, kudos to anyone who knows where Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki can be found in these parts.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Polecat

                  no guarantees on its quality but I just saw a blurb on Izakaya Riki and it says they now have many different styles of okonomi-yaki, including ichizen-yaki, neg-yaki, monja-yaki and . . . . . hiroshima style. not sure what all the above styles are but definitely, I've only had hiroshima-style in the homes of friends or by my own cooking so maybe this one is good. elaborate, somewhat-discrete layers, correct?

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

                  1. re: bigjeff

                    I'm actually here to answer my own question. I just saw an ad/blurb in ChopsticksNY about a new place on 2nd Ave (near 7th) about May Chan Ramen, an izakaya joint that, in addition to a genki/healthy ramen made from Chinese herbs, serves "Hiroshima-style" Okonomiyaki. Here's the lone link to the place I've found thus far:

                    Jeff, I've never actually tried this style, so I have no personal benchmark. All I know about it is that it's made with noodles, perhaps in the outer-most layer. We cook Osaka-style at home, and this is the only style I've ever had in Japan, so it's all I know. Thanks for the tip on YI Riki.

                    1. re: Polecat

                      ya saw that chow thread; didn't sound good. as for okonomiyaki, ya i never get it here because it's always the typical pajun-style: everything mixed in a batter, then served w/ the toppings. never the true layer-built-style which is a pain, but amazing and worth the effort. again, I've only had this homemade although there was an episode of Gluttonous Detective that featured okonomiyaki (Thanks, EEto, for that long-time-ago tip on the "gurume-duramas"):


                  2. re: Polecat

                    The short answer is no. A real hiroshima-style okonomiyaki place would have to have a big teppan, with a dedicated okonomiyaki cook. Not likely here. You might find something that might approximate that style of okonomiyaki, but it's not likely to be very good, or very "authentic", at least from the perspective of someone who's eaten a lot in Hiroshima. It's actually a bit difficult to even find good Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki in Tokyo. So I wouldn't expect anything to rock my world here in NYC.