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Help with Impossible Birthday Dinner--Japanese

I'm looking for a good place for my niece's 10th birthday. She is a super adventurous foodie and would most love Japanese. The rest of the group is also adventurous, but some aren't that into Japanese food. I've been looking at places like Morimoto and Matsuri, where the non-sushi entrees are somewhat fusion-y. I'm wondering if anyone has other recommendations (or thoughts about these two options).
Also, we're looking in the range of $60/person. And grandparents will be attending, so places that are loud and rocking aren't so great (which is one reason why I'm not so sure about Matsuri).
THANKS for any recs.
SueChef

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Matsuri
369 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

Morimoto
88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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  1. What about Brasserie EN or Aburiya Kinnosuke? Both are top drawer izakaya where I don't order the sushi. EN has a cute thing they do with a Banrai pot, too, where they make their own tofu...Both places are what you find in Japan.

    www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: scotty27

      These are the same two restaurants I would recommend.

      Both have excellent house-made warm tofu.
      En has wonderful toasted rice balls, a really fun dish with pieces of cabbage and 4 different flavors of miso dip, many non-fish and cooked fish dishes.

      Aburiya Kinnosuke has a lot of great grilled meat and vegetable dishes, some great rice-pot dishes (pork & ginger!) and an extensive and fun menu.

      I think En's menu may be easier to navigate (one big well laid out page) versus Aburiya's (15 pages and meandering).

      But either would be a great experience.

      Also, En has a big gorgeous modern room with tall ceilings. If you reserve, make sure to ask for the main room.
      Aburiya has little private dining spaces separated by hanging bamboo screens. I'd ask for one of this little booths when reserving, if you can.

    2. How about Sakagura? It's a really interesting space, it's not loud, it's casual enough but also festive. And a big menu to choose from.

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      Sakagura
      211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

      8 Replies
      1. re: gutsofsteel

        I love Sakagura, but I don't know if I'd have a ten-year-old's birthday party there. To me it's a somewhat high-end izakaya.

        1. re: uwsister

          I think a 10 year old would think that Sakagura is very cool.

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          Sakagura
          211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            Oh yeah, I would've loved it as a ten-year-old for sure. I'm just hesitant to recommend it as it's primarily a drinking place.

            1. re: uwsister

              Yeah, that's basically what the word "Sakagura" means. After dinner, you can take them to The Whiskey and then Beer Table.

              1. re: uwsister

                did i just have a bad night at Sakagura? we went once and were not impressed at all. we ordered quite a few dishes, none of which i can remember now, and didn't go crazy for any of them. i also felt as though the photographs on their website made the room look much better than in person. we went in with high hopes and left very disappointed.

                that said, we really like Decibel, their sister place in the EV.

                1. re: coasts

                  Huh. I mean I've never been blown away by anything at Sakagura, but almost everything I've had there was good. Did you order anything from the special page on the front? I also like their desserts - did you try any of them? Their black sesame creme brulee's one of my favorite desserts in the city. Oh, I'm not a drinker but my husband is into sake and he thinks they've got one of the best sake lists around. That adds a lot of points if you like sake.

                  1. re: uwsister

                    honestly, i really don't remember what or where we ordered from, only that we tried several plates. the sake list is nice, but it's also way marked up. we actually commented to the waitress that we often will order Dassai 50 at Decibel for $50/bottle. Sakagura has it for $75!

                    you've piqued my interest with the dessert, though.

                2. re: uwsister

                  I've never use it as a drinking place. It's a restaurant.