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BEST JAPANESE IN NEW YORK-VARIOUS STYLES

f
foodlovergeneral Dec 5, 2011 11:20 AM

I have loved Japanese food in New York for decades now. I am blown away by the quality when I go. Here's some of my faves, and would love to hear others:

SUSHI:
KURUMASUSHI-Super expensive, but the fish is flown in several times a week from Tsukuji. Very authentic with real wasabi (not the powered stuff), and incredible soy sauce. The chef will help you understand which one to use when. Many types of toro, not just from tuna, and incredible fish from around the globe. Worth it from time to time, but big bucks cost.
KYOYA: Very authentic and beautiful kaiseki meal. Many courses that are not way over the top. You don't get a food hangover as I have from similar multicourse meals in western style food (Per Se).
KAJITSU: Amazing vegeterrean kaiseki in temple Shojin style. This is a must do. Used to be easy to get in. Good price for such a high end meal. Tea ceremony style tea at the end of dinner. 2 star michelin.
SAGAKURA: 100s of sakes (or so it seems) in this hideaway in the basement of an office building. Used to be mostly Japanese, but more of us westerners now. Great tapas in this Izakaya style place.
SUSHI GARI: Much more worthwhile for fusion style omikase then Masa at a much better price (not as snooty, and great quality). Both Masa and Gari much better than Nobu.
TORI SHIN: 1 star michelin for this yakitori place upper east side. Really amazing.
OMEN: WOnderful feel good comfort food Japanese style.
DONGURI: Great comfort food and many very interesting small plates. Try the Matiaki mushroom tempura, or the braised pork belly.
IPPUDO: Great ramen.

I can keep going, but this is enough. What else am I missing?

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

Donguri
309 E 83rd St, New York, NY 10028

Gari
370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

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

Ippudo
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

Kurumazushi
7 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

Kajitsu
414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

Omen
113 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

  1. k
    KA1555 Dec 5, 2011 12:00 PM

    Brushstroke.

    -----
    Brushstroke
    30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

    3 Replies
    1. re: KA1555
      f
      foodlovergeneral Dec 5, 2011 12:18 PM

      I will try that, but I am worried; is it an elegant ryokan style kaiseki that is authentically Japanese, or is it more Americanized. I am not sure, but I think Sugiyama seemed that way to me. Brushtroke sounds like it certainly has the right chefs, but do they try to stick to the true Japanese style? That is my preference (When in NY, eat as the Japanese do). Have you compared them to Kajitsu or Kyo Ya?

      -----
      Sugiyama
      251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

      Brushstroke
      30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

      1. re: foodlovergeneral
        g
        gutsofsteel Dec 5, 2011 01:19 PM

        I was not impressed by Brushstroke.

        -----
        Brushstroke
        30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: gutsofsteel
          f
          foodlovergeneral Dec 5, 2011 01:57 PM

          What was it that you didn't like? What other Kaiseki places did you like?

    2. v
      vidyoh Dec 5, 2011 01:58 PM

      Agree with Sushi Gari. here are my other favorites.
      1) Blue Ribbon
      2) 15 East
      3) Sushi Yasuda.

      best Ramen in the tri state area is Santoka ramen in the Mitsuawa shopping ctr in Edgewater NJ

      -----
      15 East
      15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

      Sushi Yasuda
      204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

      Blue Ribbon Sushi
      119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

      7 Replies
      1. re: vidyoh
        f
        foodlovergeneral Dec 5, 2011 02:44 PM

        Santoka ramen was grrreat and inexpensive. How does it compare with Ippudo or with totto ramen in your view?

        I was only at Blue Ribon once; I didn't have a good sense of their sushi from that. Is it Americanized (California role), fusion (like Massa, Gari and Nobu), or traditional (like Yasuda, and Kurumasushi). What about 15 east?

        -----
        Blue Ribbon Sushi
        119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

        1. re: foodlovergeneral
          g
          gutsofsteel Dec 5, 2011 07:35 PM

          15 East is terrific. Different league than Yasuda, in my opinion. Better. It is not Americanized. The chef is highlly skilled, very attentive.

          -----
          15 East
          15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: foodlovergeneral
            k
            kathryn Dec 5, 2011 08:01 PM

            Blue Ribbon sushi serves both Americanized/creative rolls as well as nigiri sushi. Their nigiri have been decent but not definitely as good as other (proper sushi) places whenever I've had them. Sometimes the knife technique is a little sloppy, too.

            I'd rather walk over to Ushiwakamaru if I'm in that neighborhood.

            -----
            Blue Ribbon Sushi
            119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

            Ushiwakamaru
            136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

            1. re: kathryn
              Silverjay Dec 5, 2011 08:14 PM

              Blue Ribbon is one or two tiers below 15 East and Yasuda. I would never go there if I didn't have to.

            2. re: foodlovergeneral
              v
              vidyoh Dec 6, 2011 06:41 AM

              Santoka+ Better noodles, better broth (more complex) and better pork belly. Spicy Miso Ramen is the go to dish. Blue Ribbon has one of the best and most affordable Omakase meals in the city.

              1. re: vidyoh
                kosmose7 Dec 6, 2011 01:54 PM

                I agee. I always liked Santoka in Japan and Hong Kong, and I am glad that Mitsuwa has one too. Whenever I go to Mitsuwa, I try to have a bowl of their spicy miso ramen and chashu don combo. It is, in my opinion, better than most other ramen shops in Manhattan.

            3. re: vidyoh
              l
              Lau Dec 6, 2011 08:20 AM

              15 East and Yasuda are great, but blue ribbon is pretty mediocre, its basically just as expensive as any of the good places except that its like 2 notched below quality wise

            4. Silverjay Dec 5, 2011 07:43 PM

              Momokawa for seasonal Kyoto style, Hakata Tonton for tonsoku izakaya, Takashi for yakiniku. Aburiya Kinnosuke for decent robatayaki and other upscale izakaya fare....Ippudo is the best ramen in the city. They make everything there. Santouka has been really inconsistent the last couple of years. I'm thinking they make soup in a central commissary for the other branches around the country....I lived in Tokyo most of my adult life. The top tier sushi places here are good. I've never been to the kaiseki places, but they sound good. Everything else is ok, rather overpriced for what it is...You might be interested in Tsukushi. Not gourmet, but an authentic experience...Gari isn't really Japanese food...And the word you're looking for is omakase, not omikase. Oh-MA-Ka-say.

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

              Hakata TonTon
              61 Grove Street, New York, NY 10014

              Tsukushi
              300 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017

              Ippudo
              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Momokawa
              157 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016

              Takashi
              456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

              6 Replies
              1. re: Silverjay
                k
                kathryn Dec 5, 2011 08:02 PM

                I think you meant to write Takashi for yakiniku. Not Takahashi?

                1. re: kathryn
                  Silverjay Dec 5, 2011 08:13 PM

                  Yep. One's a first name and one's a last name. Edited.

                2. re: Silverjay
                  f
                  foodlovergeneral Dec 5, 2011 08:18 PM

                  That was a wonderful post, thank you. I have been going to Tsukushi for 8 years. It's great. Gari is fusion, as you say. Thanks for the correction. Aburaya is one great restaurant. What is "seasonal Kyoto style"?

                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                    Silverjay Dec 5, 2011 08:22 PM

                    The menu changes with the season (which every good Japanese restaurant should). They call themselves "Kyoto style". Usually means more traditional fare (less dishes cooked with oil, pickling, salt grilling, white miso, etc.).

                    1. re: Silverjay
                      s
                      snaporaz Dec 6, 2011 11:08 AM

                      +1 for Momokawa. IME they also tend to have very good sashimi - much better than any other mid-range place in the city.

                  2. re: Silverjay
                    f
                    foodlovergeneral Dec 6, 2011 12:06 PM

                    Anyone aware of good robatayaki that is not so expensive as Aburiya Kinnosuke? Look forward to Momokawa and Hakata Tonton. Sounds Great.

                  3. l
                    Lau Dec 6, 2011 08:24 AM

                    this is a good list, I'd add in

                    Soba: cocoron and soba koh; i think they're pretty good

                    Bohemian: that place is pretty money

                    And I agree with the other additions people mentioned: yasuda, 15 east, takashi, momokawa, hakata ton ton etc

                    -----
                    SobaKoh
                    309 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Bohemian
                    57 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                    Cocoron
                    61 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002

                    1. Silverjay Dec 6, 2011 09:03 AM

                      We actually discussed this pretty recently now that I recall-

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/802458

                      1. c
                        cnr.one Dec 6, 2011 09:07 AM

                        Aburiya Kinnosuke is 1 of my favorite's in NY. I think you will like it from looking at your list. Really good authentic food and friendly service. They have a wide range of high quality home style dishes and daily specials list. I love the grilled fishes and seafood in general. But, the pot of rice with baby anchovies is the stand out for me.

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cnr.one
                          f
                          foodlovergeneral Dec 6, 2011 02:07 PM

                          Arubiya Kinnosuke gets my vote too. I love it. So many different possibilities for meals. Their specials are wonderful and their robata is decent, as Silverjaky said.

                        2. s
                          snaporaz Dec 6, 2011 11:19 AM

                          I know En doesn't have many fans here, but I've found that if you order wisely it can be quite good, especially for a group. Just went with nine other people who are not japanese food lovers like myself (honestly it wasn't even my choice) on Saturday, as usual ended up doing all the ordering (does this happen to you guys?), and they were thrilled. Got some obanzai (very good, especially the pork belly and lotus root), sashimi moriawase (just ok), fresh scooped tofu (very good), kara age (of course a huge hit, very good), raw tuna and avocado salad (meh - but people liked it), miso marinated black cod (I was trying to stay away from this but people wanted it, good). Asked if they had shirako (for me!) but no dice. Anyway, nothing special, but a dramatic space and a crowd-pleaser of an izakaya, which can be tough when people aren't there just for the food, and don't get the charm of a place like, say, Ariyoshi. So it does have value as something like... "best crowd-pleaser izakaya for a big group".

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

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: snaporaz
                            f
                            foodlovergeneral Dec 6, 2011 12:07 PM

                            I enjoyed En, for what it is. Not my favorite, but fun. Love their tofu ofcourse.

                            1. re: snaporaz
                              u
                              uwsister Dec 7, 2011 02:06 AM

                              I can't even pinpoint why, but I've never liked En. Just doesn't feel right. "Soulless" might be the word I would use for it.

                              Many good places mentioned here.

                              One of my favorite things to do though, is to go to Chiyono and eat simply grilled mackarel with rice or chicken cream croquettes (can't find a good one easily.)

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

                              Chiyono
                              328 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

                            2. m
                              mjl242 Dec 7, 2011 08:09 AM

                              I thoroughly enjoy Japanese cuisine. Could someone briefly explain the nuances of the cuisine types listed? Like "Kyoto style" was explained by Silverjay.

                              Kaiseki
                              Izakaya style
                              Tonsoku Izakaya
                              Yakiniku
                              Yakitori
                              Robatayaki

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: mjl242
                                l
                                Lau Dec 7, 2011 08:15 AM

                                kaiseki - it's basically a multi course tasting menu type of thing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiseki

                                izakaya - its a place where you eat alot of small dishes and drink, so sort a drinking food type of place http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izakaya

                                tonsoku - this is pig's feet, they were referring to hakata ton ton who specializes in tonsoku

                                takiniku -its the japanese version of korean bbq, which is bbq which you grill at your table in case you haven't been http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakiniku

                                yakitori - this is various meat and vegetable skewers which are grilled http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakitori

                                robatayaki - its a form of eating where there is a central grill and then the customer points to what they want, here's what it looks like: http://www.tonychor.com/archive/00072...

                                1. re: Lau
                                  m
                                  mjl242 Dec 7, 2011 09:40 AM

                                  Thanks everyone for the clarifications. I wikipedia'ed some of these terms as well, but as Silverjay said, it's not always correct. I've been to Kajitsu, so I have an idea of kaiseki. Also, I've been to Raku in Las Vegas, a popular robatayaki place, especially with chefs, but there's no real pointing of foods.

                                  This article (linked by Vegas food critic, John Curtas) calls robatayaki the grilling of skewers over charcoal. So I got confused between that and yakitori. That's why I asked for the definitions/nuances.
                                  http://www.ciaprochef.com/WOF2005/rob...

                                  -----
                                  Kajitsu
                                  414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                                  1. re: mjl242
                                    Silverjay Dec 7, 2011 09:50 AM

                                    Technically, yakitori is a type of robatayaki. It doesn't necessarily mean skewers, just means grilled on an open fire. The nuance of yakitori is that it is usually just skewers or just grilled stuff and served informally to you while you drink. Places that deliberately call themself "robatayaki" aim for a little bit more of a rustic grilling "performance" dining experience. They tend to be expensive.

                                    I'm not sure this would all come up in wiki or google articles. I'm just conveying the implied nuance.

                                    1. re: Silverjay
                                      m
                                      mjl242 Dec 7, 2011 10:00 AM

                                      >> I'm not sure this would all come up in wiki or google articles. I'm just conveying the implied nuance.

                                      Which is why I love CH. Thanks for all the info, Silverjay.

                                2. re: mjl242
                                  Silverjay Dec 7, 2011 08:16 AM

                                  Kaiseki- expensive multi-course seasonal tasting menu that highlights different cooking techniques
                                  Izakaya style- Japanese small plates pub or tavern or think tapas
                                  Tonsoku Izakaya- tonsoku means pig's trotters
                                  Yakiniku- DIY Korean style grilled meat
                                  Yakitori- grilled chicken, usually skewers
                                  Robatayaki- Various grilled items served to you

                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                    f
                                    foodlovergeneral Dec 7, 2011 08:38 AM

                                    Thanks everyone. Kaiseki has a number of permutations, but decends from the Tea ceremony meals of the 16th century. You will see that in Wikipedia. That still exists and is quite nice, and hard to find. Kajitsu serves Shojin style Kaiseki which is from Zen temples related to a form of eating called oryoki. Oryoki is a style of eating in which stacked bowls are remove from a cloth wrapping. It is vegeterrean. There are levels of multicourse meals, from very elegant meals for banquets, or very exquisite meals served in specialized "inns" called "ryokan" in Japan to lower level multi course meals. The emphasis is balance and elegance.

                                    -----
                                    Kajitsu
                                    414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                      Silverjay Dec 7, 2011 09:25 AM

                                      There are several origins from kaiseki, besides tea ceremony, that have now combined and then been riffed off of in modern times. Wiki articles covering Japanese topics are notoriously incorrect or incomplete. And "ryokan" really just means generically "traveler's inn" and are not necessarily places to enjoy kaiseki cuisine.

                                      1. re: Silverjay
                                        f
                                        foodlovergeneral Dec 7, 2011 09:37 AM

                                        Thanks for the clarification. Do you have some experience with the great ryokan meals I have heard and read about that you have a moment to share?

                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                          Silverjay Dec 7, 2011 09:44 AM

                                          Ryokan meals you usually get a big spread all laid out in front of you at one time in your room. I've posted some experiences on the Japan board. These days when I travel in Japan, I tend to stay at regular hotels so I can explore the local restaurant scene.

                                3. f
                                  foodlovergeneral Dec 7, 2011 09:57 AM

                                  Since we are talking about Kaiseki, which has substantial roots in Tea cermony of Sen Rikyu, who knows where they have Japanese tea ceremony in New York? Where can you get high quality Japanese and Chinese teas and Chinese "gongfu cha".

                                  Here's a few things I know:

                                  KAJITSU: The chef himself served a bowl of "matcha" at the end of the meal. I noticed he was using a similar technique to one of the major schools of tea ceremony, and he confirmed that. IT was a very light version of matcha.
                                  CHA-AN: I have heard they have Japanese tea ceremony. Has anyone tried it?
                                  MANDARIN'S TEA ROOM: Tim Hsu is a tea importer of amazing Chinese teas, and by appointment will offer tastings of those teas. He sells those teas in his tea room as well.
                                  ITO EN: Used to be on Madison and have great teas from Uji and other places. Closed now. No matcha.

                                  Anyone have much to add?

                                  -----
                                  Cha-An
                                  230 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003

                                  Kajitsu
                                  414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                    Cheeryvisage Dec 7, 2011 09:59 AM

                                    For Chinese teas, maybe look into Radiance too. They do afternoon tea tastings.

                                    -----
                                    Radiance
                                    158 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                      t
                                      Tommy D. Dec 7, 2011 10:09 AM

                                      You can get tea confections at Minamoto Kitchoan. I believe that they also serve green tea but I'm not sure if it's the traditional ceremony that you're seeking.

                                      -----
                                      Minamoto Kitchoan
                                      608 5th Ave, New York, NY 10020

                                      1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                        Silverjay Dec 7, 2011 10:16 AM

                                        Personally, I've never been into sitting on my knees drinking tea from a bowl, but uh, anyway there is a public tea ceremony club on the UES that does events, holds classes, etc. I can't remember the name. Japan Society does stuff and everytime there is a Japan related festival, usually in the spring, there are public events.

                                        Edit: Here is the place on UES- http://www.urasenkeny.org/ .

                                        1. re: Silverjay
                                          f
                                          foodlovergeneral Dec 7, 2011 04:12 PM

                                          Silverjay has shared some very interesting and unusual places with us. A "pig foot" specialist, a "kyoto izakaya", a yakiniku restaurant that serves most imaginable parts of the cow for barbecue. Wow. What a find. Anything we are missing here? What a great list; I will put them all together and make a list for everyone sometime soon.

                                        2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                          l
                                          Lau Dec 7, 2011 11:44 AM

                                          i thought hakubai in the kitano hotel does it, but id check to make sure

                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/hakubai-new-y...

                                          -----
                                          Hakubai
                                          66 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                          1. re: Lau
                                            f
                                            foodlovergeneral Dec 7, 2011 12:11 PM

                                            I don't think so. They have good Kaiseki, though it's been many years since I partook. Last time, about 6 years ago, they offered us fugu, which was quite amazing. I think their chef has moved on to Kyo Ya if I am not mistaken.

                                            This string is great with Silverjay and others sharing great knowlege about the incredible offerings of Japanese food in New York. I am excited to come back to New York in January; now my challenge is to figure out where to go! I am only there from Jan 3-Jan 8. I am really curious about so many that have been described here.

                                        3. f
                                          fooder Dec 7, 2011 10:30 AM

                                          Why is there no good teppanyaki in NYC?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: fooder
                                            l
                                            Lau Dec 7, 2011 11:33 AM

                                            no there's not unless you want to go to benihana

                                            there used to be a great place in midtown, but unfortunately it closed down many years ago

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