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INEXPENSIVE AUTHENTIC JAPANESE FOOD NYC?

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foodlovergeneral Jan 10, 2013 08:52 PM

I am new to not having much money. I had many favorites for Japanese. For example, I was in love with Kuruma sushi-the priciest sushi in NYC (perhaps equal with Masa). Now what are the choices for not so expensive? Which
1. Izakayas are great and authentic, yet cheap?
2. Yaki-niku?
3. Pork restaurants (such as Hakata Tonton)?
4. Sushi
5. Ramen
6. Soba

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  1. kosmose7 Jan 10, 2013 09:43 PM

    Although not in Manhattan, I strongly recommend Takesushi in Sunnyside, Queens. It was opened last summer by the same owner of Manhattan Takesushi, which is now closed. Both the owner and chef are Japanese, and I heard they used to work together with Ichumura san at Brushstroke.

    Their lunch special (cash only for lunch) for $11.75, or $13 for sushi lunch, including tax and tip, are amazingly good quality for what you pay.

    Their dinner special course (credit cards accepted for dinner) for $32 (+ tax and tip) is also great value.

    Attached photos are $11.75 lunch set and $32 dinner course.

    They currently have no liquor license and it is BYOB, which cuts down your dining expense even further! I bought a bottle of Calif. champagne at nearby liquor store, and drank it with my dinner at Takesushi!

     
     
     
     
     
    7 Replies
    1. re: kosmose7
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      foodlovergeneral Jan 11, 2013 11:51 AM

      Thanks very interesting provenance for the chef. But California rolls are not usually a good sign for an authentic Japanese restaurant. Can you say more about authenticicity?

      1. re: foodlovergeneral
        kosmose7 Jan 11, 2013 12:48 PM

        California rolls are found at so many (even authentic) Japanese restaurants in New York. They are not necessarily a barometer to measure the authenticity of a restaurant. In many cases they are for some non-Japanese customers who prefer Americanized Japanese food. Simply don't order them.

        If you are referring to the rolls included in the lunch set, you have a choice of steamed rice or rolls. I chose the rolls because at least they didn't have any mayonnaise in them, and I will take them any day at $11.75 (including tax and tip) for everything including egg plant, tuna & yellow tail sashimi, deep-fried oysters, braised yellow tail head, rolls, salad, and miso soup.

        Takesushi is authentically Japanese.

        More photos here:
        http://blog.naver.com/kosmose7/901611...

        1. re: kosmose7
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          foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2013 08:46 PM

          Looks great. I will try it.

      2. re: kosmose7
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        foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 07:30 PM

        I think this-takesush-is my next dine out for Queens, for certain. There's a great Taiwanese restaurant in Queens a little bit undiscovered that this edges ahead for me called 101 Taiwanese cuisine with a great chef from major hotel in Taiwan. The sushi and other things look great.

        1. re: foodlovergeneral
          scoopG Jan 16, 2013 07:19 AM

          101 Taiwanese:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840841

        2. re: kosmose7
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          foodlovergeneral Feb 21, 2013 02:45 PM

          I still haven't gotten there but thanks for this recommendation.

          1. re: kosmose7
            p
            Pookipichu Oct 21, 2013 08:14 AM

            +1 +1 +1

            Totally Takesushi.

          2. s
            Simon Jan 11, 2013 09:14 AM

            Kuboya is very inexpensive and serves some yummy Japanese comfort food...5th St btw A&B, next to Minca...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Simon
              visciole Feb 21, 2013 05:57 PM

              +1. Kuboya's spicy miso ramen is excellent, the service is very nice, and it is usually quiet. An amazing trifecta for so little money.

            2. a
              AdamD Jan 11, 2013 10:46 AM

              Cafe Zaiya
              Katsu hama

              1. f
                flower_puppy Jan 11, 2013 01:41 PM

                Ippudo is my favorite for Ramen, even though I don't go often because of the wait.

                It's not cheap, but Kaijitsu in the East Village is one of my all time favorite Japanese places.

                And if you're in the area, Hibino in Cobble Hill is my favorite local place. Shhh.

                2 Replies
                1. re: flower_puppy
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                  foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2013 08:48 PM

                  I am so in love with Kaijitsu-but not cheap. Ippudo was a big disapointment for me. Tried Hibino. Not bad.

                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                    plf515 Oct 20, 2013 03:56 PM

                    I like Jin better than Ippudo.

                2. p
                  plf515 Jan 11, 2013 03:12 PM

                  Jin Ramen on 125th and Broadway is good for ramen. Hard to spend more than $20 a person - that more than covered a beer, fried chicken appetizer and a big bowl of ramen.

                  Izakayas: One I've liked is Sun Chan on 103 and Broadway. Not as cheap as ramen, of course, but much less than mid town. Depending on how hungry you are, I'd say about $30 per person (unless you start drinking a lot of sake).

                  Cheap sushi - I think cheap good sushi is an oxymoron.

                  1. f
                    foodwhisperer Jan 11, 2013 04:14 PM

                    Bugs is a great place to eat. Their pork dishes and fish dishes are great. The chef/owner's parents had a restaurant in Osaka and eating there, in this tiny place, is like eating in someone home. Each dish is prepared to order. The sushi she serves is good too. She used to be the #2 chef at Jewel Bako and at Yasuda.. Many Japanese people , including sushi chefs, eat there. It's on E.12th St.
                    http://eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.c...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: foodwhisperer
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                      Simon Feb 25, 2013 09:55 PM

                      hi...i tried Bugs tonight on your rec: i agree it's a pretty adorable place and reminded me of quirky homestyle places i've eaten in in Japan...

                      i got the 48 dollar tasting menu...my favorite courses were the edamame, the soup, and the cooked fish (white fish w/ an uni sauce)...sashimi was decent, as was the salad though i'd wished it had more mushrooms in it...i didn't care for the sushi (five pieces) so much: just style-wise, her sauces and combinations aren't my thing, and i found the rice to be mushy in the extreme (and usually i don't mind softer rice and tend to dislike the undercooked Sasabune-style rice) and also too heavy on the wasabi...

                      But i'll surely go back and root around the menu a bit...both the owner and waitress are charming...they serve beer/wine/sake now, so it'd make for a pleasant stop on a drinking&snacking tour of the East Village...

                      I also suggested to the owner that she consider adding ochi-zushi/battera to the menu, as it's such a popular item at Kyo-Ya yet is a food that suits the casual style of Bugs...

                      In any case, hope the restaurant is able to prosper (and overcome its ridiculously poor name!)

                      1. re: Simon
                        f
                        foodwhisperer Feb 26, 2013 09:18 AM

                        SImon, I'm glad you tried Bugs and enjoyed it. I agree with you on the sushi rice, it is not her forte. However, I don't mind her combinations of flavors or ingredients on the sushi. She did a good job as a sushi chef at Jewel Bako. I think the reason she has sushi , is because her "followers" know her from Jewel Bako and demand it. I love her soups. I'm sure if you ask for more mushrooms in the salad she will gladly accommodate you . Her pork belly dish is really good too.
                        The best thing about the place is the vibe and the cordial service. You feel like you had a good home cooked meal. Most of the people that I know who eat there, are sushi chefs, and Japanese people in the food business. I hope she fixes her shari. The name doesn't bother me,,, since it keeps people away and I can always get a seat.

                    2. u
                      Uncle Yabai Jan 11, 2013 06:40 PM

                      Donburiya in Midtown is pretty good and cheap.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Uncle Yabai
                        Silverjay Jan 11, 2013 06:45 PM

                        ...and after 10pm they bring on the "A" team at the bar.

                      2. m
                        mitchleeny Jan 12, 2013 05:47 AM

                        Sobaya for Soba - east village.

                        For ramen, I like Rai Rai Ken or Minca, both in the east village.

                        1. r
                          RCC Jan 12, 2013 05:51 AM

                          +1 on Donburi-ya in midtown east.

                          Also adding Onya, a new soba/udon place next to Donburi-ya on 47th Street. I'm loving this place after having gone twice.

                          http://onyanyc.com/

                          74 Replies
                          1. re: RCC
                            Silverjay Jan 12, 2013 06:47 AM

                            Onya is a Sanuki udon specialty shop and has been around for a few years, but I agree, it's a good choice.

                            1. re: Silverjay
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                              foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2013 01:16 PM

                              Would you mind saying a bit more about what is Sanuki udon. Apparantly, that's the place that developed udon originally, when Kukai, the Buddhist monk brought it.

                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                Silverjay Jan 13, 2013 04:29 PM

                                Sanuki is the old name for Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island. The udon tends to be thicker gauge and the shops usually have a bit of a fixin's bar. Sanuki udon has kind of become the de facto standard, so many people may not have exposure to anything else. Onya makes their own. I don't think they do soba there. I haven't been for a couple of years though.

                                Btw, back to main topic- I spotted in one of the weekly Japanese papers, a winter special at Takesushi. It's $13 for an uni and maguro donburi. Lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They recommend reserving from Thursdays at Noon. Uni is bafun uni from Maine. The ad doesn't say how long the special lasts.

                                1. re: Silverjay
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                                  Lau Jan 13, 2013 06:51 PM

                                  oh interesting, i didnt know there were any places in NY that make their own udon. i used to love udon when i was a kid, ill have to go try that place

                                  1. re: Lau
                                    Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 05:57 AM

                                    Samurai Mama in Williamsburg also makes udon in house. I prefer Onya though.

                                    1. re: Silverjay
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                                      Lau Jan 14, 2013 06:15 AM

                                      ill go try onya soon for sure, i havent udon in a long time

                                  2. re: Silverjay
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                                    Pan Jan 13, 2013 07:24 PM

                                    I loved the Hokkaido uni I got as part of a kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya and found the Santa Barbara uni I had as part of an appetizer at Marea a bit unpleasantly fishy. What's bafun uni like?

                                    1. re: Pan
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                                      Lau Jan 13, 2013 07:32 PM

                                      santa barbara uni should not be fishy if it is any good. i love good santa barbara uni, its very creamy

                                      1. re: Lau
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                                        Pan Jan 13, 2013 07:35 PM

                                        My dining partners, who are experienced in eating good sashimi in Japan, said it tasted right, so I don't know what to think about that.

                                        1. re: Pan
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                                          Lau Jan 13, 2013 07:41 PM

                                          thats odd, i mean it is from santa barbara not japan, so im not sure their japanese experience is necessarily the most relevant?

                                          i was just in tokyo (had multiple meals with silverjay) and the uni from japan in japan was really really good (this was at very good sushi places), but i will say that good santa barbara uni compares favorably to it.

                                          1. re: Lau
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                                            Pan Jan 13, 2013 08:19 PM

                                            They were also experienced in eating Santa Barbara uni in New York. They talked to me about the difference in taste between Hokkaido and Santa Barbara uni, and they actually prefer Santa Barbara uni.

                                            1. re: Pan
                                              d
                                              deprofundis Jan 13, 2013 09:36 PM

                                              I actually had Santa Barbara uni and Hokkaido uni during the same omakase at 15 East last week. Not that I'm an uni expert, but for me if wasn't easy to tell the difference. If pressed, I would say that the Hokkaido uni had a milder flavor and a slightly creamier texture. I preferred the Hokkaido uni. Could I identify them in a blind test? I doubt it.

                                              1. re: deprofundis
                                                s
                                                Simon Jan 14, 2013 05:32 AM

                                                i usually find the uni location pretty distinct and indentifiable...on one of my 15 East visits, Masato-san had a three kinds of uni tasting as one of the courses...

                                                As a rule of the thumb:

                                                Santa Barbara: very creamy, round, rich,

                                                Hokkaido: sharper, more pungent, somewhat darker orange, and pairs quite nicely w/ wine, even some reds...

                                                Maine: somewhere in between?...i've generally found it less flavorful, less distinct...

                                                While i used to like the Santa Barbara variety the best in the past (as do many people), i've come to prefer Hokkaido uni...(last week at Ushiwakamaru, Hideo-san was serving some delicious Hokkaido uni,

                                                Your mileage may vary :)

                                                1. re: Simon
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                                                  Lau Jan 14, 2013 05:48 AM

                                                  yah i agree with Simon, I find them to be very noticeably different like maybe the most geographically noticeable among all sushi items as opposed to fish from different areas which i bet blind taste test wise i wouldn't be able to identify versus each other necessarily.

                                                  I would also agree with Simon re: his descriptions of the flavors (except I haven't eaten a ton of Maine uni, so I don't have super concrete thoughts on it)

                                                  simon - its interesting, I've always preferred Santa Barbara uni to Hokkaido until I had some in Tokyo which was the first time that I was like wow this Hokkaido uni is really really good and at that point I was like ok I think i get why people really like it (always thought it was very good, but not like amazing). I'll write about it soon when i write up my tokyo restaurants, but i thought the shellfish type options in Japan was the sushi that was really levels above what you get in the US as opposed to the fish.

                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                    kosmose7 Jan 14, 2013 06:56 PM

                                                    I, for one, prefer Santa Barabra uni to Hokkaido uni.

                                                    1. re: kosmose7
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                                                      Lau Jan 14, 2013 07:15 PM

                                                      in general i totally agree with you re: santa barbara uni vs hokkaido (this was at a 3 michelin star sushi restaurant)

                                                  2. re: Simon
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                                                    FattyDumplin Jan 18, 2013 03:21 PM

                                                    That's my experience as well. Santa Barbara is so smooth. Hokkaido hits you a bit more. Maine is ok... more brackish and i find a bit saltier.

                                              2. re: Lau
                                                Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 06:02 AM

                                                Ha! One of the highlights of our family New Year's celebration in Japan is that we order a whole box of fresh bafun uni from Hokkaido. It comes packaged in dry ice and has never been frozen. It's sublime. You need to stick around longer next time.

                                                1. re: Silverjay
                                                  l
                                                  Lau Jan 14, 2013 06:16 AM

                                                  oh man that sounds awesome

                                              3. re: Pan
                                                f
                                                foodwhisperer Jan 14, 2013 10:08 PM

                                                i agree with Lau that Santa Barabara uni is creamy and actually a bit sweet. Maine uni, sometimes is served with sea water. I find Maine uni varies, sometimes it is very good sometimes bitter and not very good. When it is good , it has a "sea like" taste. Hokkaido uni is my favorite.
                                                A Japanese friend of mine who lived on Iki island, says that the iki island uni is the best. The water there is very cold. I've had Kyushu uni and it was excellent. I think it must be similar to Iki Island uni , as they are in the same vicinity.

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                                  Lau Jan 15, 2013 07:13 PM

                                                  hmm iki island....i want to go now

                                                  1. re: Lau
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                                                    foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 07:19 PM

                                                    I would be cautious of anything entitled icky.

                                                  2. re: foodwhisperer
                                                    Silverjay Jan 15, 2013 08:22 PM

                                                    Iki is part of Nagasaki Pref. in Kyushu. Famous for mugi shochu. The girl who runs Uminoie is from there.

                                                    1. re: Silverjay
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                                                      Lau Jan 16, 2013 05:51 AM

                                                      ahh interesting

                                                      1. re: Silverjay
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                                                        foodwhisperer Jan 17, 2013 12:55 PM

                                                        Iki is an island, it is off of Kyushu, but not far from there. You are correct that it is Nagasaki Pref. So I guess, uni from Kyushu would be same as uni from iki. My friend who lived there for a long time swears by it. Now she is in Nagoya, which is a whole different world. Kyushu, if i am correct is famous for mentaiko. I think one of the guys at Uminoie is from Kyushu also.

                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                          Silverjay Jan 17, 2013 01:23 PM

                                                          Mentaiko is famous for being from Fukuoka. Mentaiko wrapped in shiso, lightly battered, and then tempura fried is a cool dish I had there a few years ago. Although an island, Kyushu is usually referred to as a region. There's like 6 or 7 prefectures. Each prefecture, and increasingly each city, is famous for some kind of food. Well, all the Kyushu prefectures are known for shochu...

                                                          1. re: Silverjay
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                                                            Simon Jan 17, 2013 06:43 PM

                                                            yep, just a few of the Kyushu breakdown favs:

                                                            -- Fukuoka: mentaiko, ramen, various fugu dishes, ika, as well as a Fukuoka style of hitsumabushi (unagi w/ rice) that includes mentaiko and is done best at a 100-yr-old place called Yanagawaya), and many many amazing seafood izakayas...

                                                            -- Kumamoto: karashi renkon

                                                            -- Nagasaki...not my fav place foodwise, but known for Chinese-influenced dishes and oldold school Portuguese fusion...

                                                            -- Kagoshima...various black pork dishes and much more: pretty much everything served in Kagoshima is awesome imo...

                                                            And great shochu all over...

                                                            Kyushu rules :)

                                                            1. re: Simon
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                                                              foodwhisperer Jan 17, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                              Yes definitely an awesome place. Check out the uni when you have a chance. What I had here from Kyushu was good, but I'm sure what they have there is amazing. My friend, who is Japanese, and lived there on Iki, raves about the uni and she has spent a good amount of time in Hokkaido which has fantastic uni. The mentaiko shiso tempura sounds awesome.
                                                              Shochu rules.

                                                            2. re: Silverjay
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                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                              Is there good mentaiko served in NYC?

                                                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                Silverjay Jan 17, 2013 07:36 PM

                                                                I've had it at Hakata Ton Ton. It was decent. Hakata Ton Ton is basically a Fukuoka-themed izakaya.

                                                                1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                  foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                  Great. I went there upon your recommendation (it took my about a year). It was a great place. I loved the grilled pigs feet, which were so juicy and yet crispy. There was no detectible meat and the pigs feet were so precisely presented.

                                                                  I was quite impressed with their array of hot pots. In fact, that's sort of what the restaurant seemed to be about-the soups-despite the pig orientation.

                                                                  The chef came to the U.S. to be a chef at a Japanified Chinese restaurant which did not survive. I am excited to go back at some point. I had their sashimi platter-nothing special, but the fish was fresh and there were massive amounts of fish for a reasonable price.

                                                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                    Silverjay Jan 17, 2013 08:15 PM

                                                                    Yeah, they do motsu nabe, which is kinda like the big hit out of Fukuoka in these days.

                                                                    1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                      Lau Jan 18, 2013 04:40 AM

                                                                      oh yah we need to go back there, i need to review that place

                                                                      1. re: Lau
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                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 10:11 AM

                                                                        I am going there next week when I visit NYC. Let me know if you want.

                                                                      2. re: Silverjay
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                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                        They had a wide variety of nabe and also offered shabushabu. I thought that they quality was excellent for their basic broth. The shabushabu didn't have any soy sauce or miso, and if there was any dashi as a supplement, I couldn't taste-I just read that motsunabe does have soy or miso. We didn't try any of hte other hotpots which had some kind of "nabe" name in their descriptors.

                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                          Silverjay Jan 18, 2013 10:41 AM

                                                                          Shabu shabu usually just uses konbu, maybe a bit of other dashi ingredients, to soften the water. I've never seen shoyu or miso or full on dashi in shabu shabu. Their menu calls it "collagen broth", which probably means it's made from soaked bones... Not really supposed to drink the broth in shabu shabu during the meal. At the end though, some places will burn off some of the water and make zosui with noodles or rice like you would with typical nabe dishes. They might add shoyu or miso to this. Personally, I find drinking/ eating shabu shabu broth kind of nasty but anyway... Lau and I went to HTT about a year or so ago. Didn't get any nabe or shabu shabu dishes though. But here's a write up I did of a well-known motsu nabe place in Fukuoka a few years ago to give you an idea if you've never had it- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357582 .

                                                                          1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                            We did drink the broth at the end of the meal. It was tasty-and much like the Chinese hotpots my wife makes (she is from Southern China).

                                                                            They also offered to make a "risotto" out of the collagen broth. I presume, but am not sure, that their collagen broth comes from the pigs feet which are very high collagen items. The broth BEFORE we cooked the different items had very little taste. This might be similar to your sesame noodle experience that you experienced in Fukuoka.

                                                                            I loved your description in that string. It sounds amazing-the epiphany of the combination of the noodles (burnt or highly carmelized?) and the ponzu with the yuzukoshu. Perhaps the risotto here had a similar quality. I didn't try it as we were in a bit of a rush at the end.

                                                                            It's also amazing when Japanese cooks have some amazing combination that just works. In trying Japanese recipes, it's amazing when there's a huge difference in overall affect from small changes-using mirin or not, or using sake and mirin, or sugar with mirin, or using light vs. dark soy in a dish, or using a yuzu based ponzu, or adding more or less dashi to a dipping sauce.

                                                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                                              Just read that shabushabu is a transplant FROM Chinese hotpot into Japanese cuisine from the mid 20th century-the 1940s or 50s. It was based on Chinese version of hotpot which has an array of different types of broth depending on the region.

                                                                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                foodwhisperer Jan 18, 2013 02:29 PM

                                                                                Even sushi originated in China

                                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                                                                  foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 02:57 PM

                                                                                  It may have. But the connection between modern sushi and Chinese preserved fish is much more tenuous than, for example, the tie between "ramen" and "lamien" of China, or of shabushabu. Tea in Japan comes from China, but it's style of production, it's taste profile, methods of brewing and style is very different than Chinese teas (other than some recent Chinese teas that are being produced in the Japanese style for that market).

                                                                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                    Silverjay Jan 18, 2013 03:14 PM

                                                                                    So we did a whole "history of sushi" thread a few years ago and I did a shitload of online and offline research on this.

                                                                                    Japanese scholars believe the origins of sushi are in Southeast Asia in the Mekong River basin- specifically Laos. Basically the people there used rice to preserve fish in jars. When it came time to eat, they discarded the rice and ate the fermented fish. This method was passed on to parts of China and then to Japan. It was probably then, freshwater fish. There is still a legacy dish in Japan called narezushi that is found near Lake Biwa. It is supposed to stink and smell like cheese. They basically take some river fish, gut them, and stuff them with rice, and leave it in a barrel for a couple of years or something. Anyway, as the sushi of today uses vinegar for preservation and a nice tang for taste, uses often straight raw ingredients, and of course the rice is actually consumed, the origins are really just an interesting historical note about the evolution of the dish.

                                                                                    1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                      foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 03:23 PM

                                                                                      Rice fermented fish-in whatever part of Asia-is said to be extremely intense. Probably not much remaining semblance to sushi, other than the similarity of ingredients.

                                                                                      1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                        Silverjay Jan 18, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                        I've read that it was one of the Tokugawa shoguns doctor who came up with the idea of using vinegar. Basically, the tastes (and smells) of acidic acid replaced those of lactic acid. Made it much more palatable.

                                                                                      2. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                        foodwhisperer Jan 18, 2013 05:42 PM

                                                                                        I've read the same thing about the preserving the fish in rice and discarding the rice. But read it started with the Chinese centuries ago. I actually have the book here that I read it in. A book on sushi. It's a great book,( Wikpedia, confirms what you said about origins in SE Asia, and has some other interesting facts about sushi) Sheesh, i can't find the book.
                                                                                        In my search for the sushi book, i came across a really good factual book about the Tsukiji market. The book is called Tsukiji it's by Theodore Bestor, Prof. of Japanese studies at Harvard. I think you might like this paperback. I was just reading about the uni auctions at Tsukiji. Apparently they hold the auction outside the display room, in a chilled room with plastic curtains, in a no smoking area. Since the uni is fragile and they don't want it to absorb fumes and the warmer air is kept out. The Hokkaido he says is the most prized, then mentions the Chinese, Korean, California and Maine and others. It's a very good book, I think I will check it out again later.

                                                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                                          Silverjay Jan 18, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                                                          Yeah, Bestor's book on Tsukiji is great. We've brought it up from time to time on other boards here over the years. One of his early books- maybe his first- "Neighborhood Tokyo", had a big influence on me when I read it as an undergrad studying Japanese culture. It was a little dated by then and probably pretty dated now so I'm not sure how it would read today.

                                                                                          The English Wiki page on sushi, under History, is basically quoting Prof. Naomichi Ishige's book "The History and Culture of Japanese Cuisine" as he is a preeminent expert on all things fermented and has done field work in SE Asia and I think China. The wiki used to attribute that book in the Reference section, but I don't see it listed anymore. Shameful as I know for a fact some of those other references listed are using Prof. Ishige's book as one of their primary sources as that book, which is out of print, rare, and ridiculously expensive, is basically the best English resource of translated Japanese research.

                                                                                          I have Omae's "Book of Sushi" and a few internet pages bookmarked of other sushi chefs talking about the history of sushi, but I prefer reading the more scholarly sources.

                                                                                          1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                            foodwhisperer Jan 18, 2013 08:41 PM

                                                                                            I figure I should mention this Japanese cookbook, "The Food of Japan" (authentic recipes from the land of the rising sun).byTokayuki Kosaki and Walter Wagner.The author Mr Koskai cooked with two famous Tokyo chefs and then at restaurant Irodori they say " Osaka;s finest restaurant". Wagner was the executive chef at Hyatt Regency in Osaka. The Chawanmushi recipe is one I based mine on and it came out unbelievably good.
                                                                                            Anyway, Silverjay you are very knowledgeable and well read in Japanese "things". One day I might be lucky enough to eat some Japanese food with you, especially sushi.

                                                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 19, 2013 06:36 AM

                                                                                              How did your chawanmushi come out? Where did you get the uni?

                                                                                              1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                                                f
                                                                                                foodlovergeneral Jan 19, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                                                Is this the best Japanese cookbook that you have worked with?

                                                                                            2. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                                              f
                                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 19, 2013 06:34 AM

                                                                                              I even had fresh uni in Greece. Wasn't that good though.

                                                                                2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                  l
                                                                                  Lau Jan 18, 2013 10:55 AM

                                                                                  ure going to hakata ton ton>?

                                                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                                                    f
                                                                                    foodlovergeneral Jan 18, 2013 02:57 PM

                                                                                    Yes. Week after next.

                                                                            2. re: Silverjay
                                                                              f
                                                                              foodwhisperer Jan 18, 2013 01:19 PM

                                                                              Ippudo has mentaiko with rice, it isn't the best , but if you're in a mentaiko mood, it serves the purpose.

                                                                      3. re: Silverjay
                                                                        f
                                                                        foodwhisperer Jan 19, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                        Just had a conversation with my friend from Iki , her cousin owns an Izakaya there. I told her Hokkaido uni is the best, and she went bizerko on me. She said the uni from iki is famous for being best. She said the red one, they call aka uni ( red uni) goes for about $600 a kilo, that is years ago price. It isn't exactly red, and maybe leans toward the purple. But they call it red uni. She said the water near iki or Kyushu, is so clean and the water by Hokkaido she thought not so clean because of many factories. I know she is no expert, but none the less, a japanese person who loves uni and lived on iki island , Nagasaki for many years. With a relative in the food business. So , Now, the question is Where can I get some uni from there in NYC?

                                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                          f
                                                                          foodlovergeneral Jan 19, 2013 12:33 PM

                                                                          I would ask the guy at Kurumasushi if he can get some and serve it. I think if there's someone who can do it, it's him. If one piece weighs about 28 grams that's a raw cost of $20. I want to hear about the cost of that one.

                                                                          1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                            s
                                                                            Shirang Jan 19, 2013 01:27 PM

                                                                            Masato san gets Kyushu uni once in a while, but its from Saga.

                                                                            1. re: Shirang
                                                                              f
                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 19, 2013 02:35 PM

                                                                              which restaurant?

                                                                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                l
                                                                                Lau Jan 20, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                                                15 east, he's the chef there (really nice guy and speaks english well)

                                                                                1. re: Lau
                                                                                  f
                                                                                  foodwhisperer Jan 22, 2013 08:56 PM

                                                                                  I'll be at 15 East this week, I'm going to ask him if he has access to the red uni from iki

                                                                          2. re: Silverjay
                                                                            Silverjay Jan 26, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                                            Just came across an old meishi from Uminoie. The girl there is from one of the Goto Islands in Nagasaki, not Iki-jima.

                                                                            Re: sorry, meishi means name/business card.

                                                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                                                              f
                                                                              foodwhisperer Jan 26, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                                              Well, its still in the same area. Thanks for the info.

                                                                    2. re: Pan
                                                                      Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 05:55 AM

                                                                      Fresh raw uni, in Japanese cuisine, shouldn't have a fishiness to it at all. If it is fishy, it is not fresh. It will taste fishy and slight odor of ammonia if that is not fresh.

                                                                      I've done uni tastings at places in NY and Japan but I can't recall details like Simon. There are actually two types of Hokkaido uni- bafun uni (ba-fun means horse turd!) and murasaki uni (purple). I guess the same or similar species of bafun uni are found near Maine or they are cultivating them. The ad I read mentioned some guy's name as an uni expert, so they may be cultivated somehow. In Japan, they sometimes call uni from Maine "Boston uni" because, well, people know Boston.

                                                                      Anyway, you can read online elsewhere about the differences among them. I know that uni from California (Santa Barbara and Catalina Island) is well-regarded in Japan. I forget whether it was in NY or Tokyo that a Japanese chef told me he prefers uni from California. Might have been Masa at 15 East...

                                                                      Anyway, whole point of this is the deal at Takesushi. Robataya in the EV does a $22 uni/ikura don set for lunch as well. This one at Takesushi obviously is nearly half the price.

                                                                      1. re: Silverjay
                                                                        l
                                                                        Lau Jan 14, 2013 06:22 AM

                                                                        yah santa barbara uni is awesome. there is this one sushi place i go to when im at home in CA and the sushi chef / owner there usually has this special if he can procure the uni where he has live uni from santa barbara (only has a few orders available though) and he takes it out of the tank, slices off the bottom and serves it on ice in the shell....its really good, so briny from being in the sea water, really crisp clean flavor

                                                                        hmm this Takesushi / Robataya uni ikua don sounds awesome, i love uni ikura don...its such a good combination; is the takesushi you're talking about the one in queens?

                                                                        1. re: Lau
                                                                          Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 06:41 AM

                                                                          Um, I'm pretty sure it is the Manhattan branch. I don't have the ad anymore though.

                                                                          In general, if folks are interested in the latest value deals on Japanese food in the city, as well as new openings, the Japanese free papers are the best place to get that info. The dining section is usually in the back and full of ads, promotions, etc. Even for places that aren't low-end or budget dining. Some of it is in English or bilingual.

                                                                          The papers are available near the entrances of the various Japanese markets around town. I think also H Mart on 32nd might have them too.

                                                                          1. re: Silverjay
                                                                            l
                                                                            Lau Jan 14, 2013 07:01 AM

                                                                            yah i looked up takesushi up on yelp and the only one i could find was this one in sunnyside
                                                                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/takesushi-sun...

                                                                            however, i remember some people writing about that place on the board b/c i think it actually is japanese owned / operated (odd though that it's in queens as there is a little japanese food there)

                                                                            1. re: Lau
                                                                              Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 07:04 AM

                                                                              Yeah the one in Midtown closed according to Yelp. So I guess this is the one out there.

                                                                            2. re: Silverjay
                                                                              l
                                                                              Lau Jan 14, 2013 07:02 AM

                                                                              actually here's the link to a thread on it:
                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878429

                                                                            3. re: Lau
                                                                              f
                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                                              THere is a sushi place near the Peninsula in Beverly hills that would cut open fresh uni from somewhere. I don't remember the name, but it was great and had very good sushi.

                                                                            4. re: Silverjay
                                                                              f
                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                              How much do you have to spend on that New Year's uni treat, if you don't mind my asking?

                                                                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                Silverjay Jan 14, 2013 01:27 PM

                                                                                About 3,000 YEN for 200g. There was a New Year's special. It's not usually that cheap. And actually, uni season is better in the summer.

                                                                              2. re: Silverjay
                                                                                f
                                                                                foodwhisperer Jan 18, 2013 09:01 PM

                                                                                Interesting, and I always thought Bafun uni, was Baffin uni from Baffin island. The uni there is green and has migrated down to Maine, Massachussetts and even as far south as New Jersey. In Barbados, and in St Martin I had some white uni ( the shell is white not the uni, same with the Green uni).
                                                                                http://www.fishaq.gov.nl.ca/research_...
                                                                                I don't believe anyone in the US serves the top grade uni.
                                                                                In Japan there are so many grades of uni, I was told the French buy the lower grades and use it for cooking. The highest grades are way too expensive. 15 East I think gets a good grade of Hokkaido uni but a few grades down from the top. I have had some California uni that was delicious, some that was not so good. Some Maine that was almost inedible, and some OK, I've never had a bad experience with Hokkaido uni.
                                                                                On another note, based on your comment to Pan about fishy uni. I can affirm what you say, as a friend of mine who is a fish inspector for the FDA, has told me, the main test they do is fishiness. That is no good. Fishy mean bacteria. Ammonia smell is the worst and indicates decomposition. One should never eat any of these.

                                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                                  p
                                                                                  Pan Jan 21, 2013 08:22 PM

                                                                                  Thanks for the info, foodwhisperer. This really makes me think less of Marea.

                                                                                  1. re: Pan
                                                                                    f
                                                                                    foodwhisperer Jan 22, 2013 08:59 PM

                                                                                    Pan, what I like about places like 15 East, if you notice the chef always tastes the uni , when he opens a new box. Makes me feel better when I see that.

                                                                            5. re: Silverjay
                                                                              kosmose7 Jan 14, 2013 06:52 PM

                                                                              Haha yes! That looks pretty good too.

                                                                               
                                                                        2. re: RCC
                                                                          Monica Jan 14, 2013 07:28 AM

                                                                          Hopefully I am not the only one here who think both the Donburiya and Onya are plain bad.

                                                                        3. tatsu Jan 12, 2013 01:24 PM

                                                                          If you want authentic home-style food, Soy in LES is the place to go. It's the closest thing to my mom's cooking I can find in NYC. It is elevated from home-cooking however although it would be hard to appreciate unless you knew the basis for some of these dishes.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tatsu
                                                                            f
                                                                            foodwhisperer Jan 12, 2013 01:44 PM

                                                                            I had the hiyayakko at Soy and it was very good. Nice people working there also.
                                                                            If you like Soy, you should check out Bugs, similar vibe.

                                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                              l
                                                                              Lau Jan 13, 2013 06:49 PM

                                                                              what else do you like at soy? i tried it once, but was sort of underwhelmed by the nikujaga which i had read was good

                                                                          2. p
                                                                            Pan Jan 12, 2013 06:05 PM

                                                                            I like Soba Koh on E. 5 St. It's not super-cheap, but it is a fair value and a pleasant place.

                                                                            1. alkonost Jan 12, 2013 08:40 PM

                                                                              Otafuku for takoyaki.

                                                                              Village yokocho is a cheap izakaya, they have pretty good yakitori.

                                                                              I like kambi as a less expensive alternative to ippudo- I actually prefer the chashu pork at kambi.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alkonost
                                                                                t
                                                                                tofuavecfa Jan 16, 2013 10:40 AM

                                                                                Love Otafuku for okonomiyaki. Love the raw crab and spicy tuna bowl at Village Yokocho.

                                                                                1. re: tofuavecfa
                                                                                  alkonost Jan 16, 2013 12:36 PM

                                                                                  Isn't having both places on the same street dangerous? Every time I walk by I feel compelled to eat something even if I'm not hungry.

                                                                              2. f
                                                                                foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2013 08:53 PM

                                                                                I had a so-so meal at soba totto. I was told that the soba was 100% buckwheat. I brought by gluten free cousin (celiac disease). Turns out at LUNCH, the soba is combined with wheat. The broth for the soba was nice. Some things were decent, some a little so-so. Didn't seem like the A-team at lunch.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                  E Eto Jan 13, 2013 09:29 PM

                                                                                  FYI, most soba is NOT 100% buckwheat. Even in Japan. The standard soba shop makes their soba "hachiwari", or with an 80% mixture of buckwheat flour to wheat flour. Only in places that advertise "juuwari" or 100% buckwheat will you get it that way. It takes some extra handwork and skill to work with 100% buckwheat, so you'll probably only find it at the most artisanal soba shops. I don't think there are any in the US.

                                                                                  1. re: E Eto
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    Simon Jan 14, 2013 05:22 AM

                                                                                    Sobakoh on E. 5th St has 100% buckwheat soba (which they call "inaka soba") -- it's listed as a special, though they usually have it everyday, but occassionally run out...it's delicious and artisnal and easily the best soba i've had outside Japan...

                                                                                    Soba Totto also offers what they term "towari" soba and which they claim is 100% buckwheat and make only a dozen or so orders of per day...but Totto's does not have anywhere close to the depth of flavor that you can get at Sobakoh...

                                                                                    I've never seen 100% buckwheat soba on the menu anywhere else in the US besides these two...

                                                                                    1. re: Simon
                                                                                      l
                                                                                      Lau Jan 14, 2013 05:52 AM

                                                                                      the inaka is the buckwheat from Canada right? i like that one although i think i prefer their regular one, but the inaka one has the option with natto which i really like with soba for some reason (i hate natto growing up, but i love it now)

                                                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        Simon Jan 14, 2013 06:02 AM

                                                                                        this soba and uni talk is making me hungry...i think i am going to go to Sobakoh today and get the cold inaka soba w/ uni :)

                                                                                        1. re: Simon
                                                                                          l
                                                                                          Lau Jan 14, 2013 06:15 AM

                                                                                          yah i love their uni ikura soba; definitely my favorite one there

                                                                                      2. re: Simon
                                                                                        f
                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                                        What are some of the things that you liked about Sobakoh's soba that make it the best outside of Japan? Was it only their inaka that you thought was so good, or others too? Was it the dipping sauces or a borth that you liked? What were some of the dishes you suggest ordering there?

                                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                          s
                                                                                          Simon Jan 15, 2013 12:02 PM

                                                                                          many things...firstly, my personal preference (both for taste and dietary reasons) is for 100% buckwheat soba...but their regular soba is delicious as well -- made fresh every day (you see the owner making it through a window as you walk in)...i usually get the inaka, cold, w/ uni (on the menu it's listed as uni/ikura, but i ask them to hold the ikura, just my preference)...i also have ordered it w/ kamo-nasu (ground-duck&eggplant) but this was absent from the menu last time i went...i often get a starter of goma-ae, or some sashimi...

                                                                                          Their tempura is very good (for NYC at least), especially the anago...and when i'm splurging diet-wise, i'll get that w/ my cold inaka soba...

                                                                                          I've never ordered the hot sobas, but others have been pleased with them...

                                                                                          It's also a cute, woodsy, cozy place, w/ a decent selection of both sake and wine, usually with jazz on the stereo...service is always delightful and professional...

                                                                                          Cheers

                                                                                      3. re: E Eto
                                                                                        f
                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2013 08:20 AM

                                                                                        Soba totto maintains that in the evenings, they do make theirs out of 100% buckwheat. Thanks for your information.

                                                                                    2. h
                                                                                      hungrycomposer Jan 14, 2013 10:54 PM

                                                                                      Have you tried Yuba for sushi? Good lunch specials, although last time I went it wasn't quite as good and a little cold. Seemed like it was possibly a fluke, and it was still good regardless. I get the pressed mackerel, and crave it which guarantees my return.

                                                                                      25 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: hungrycomposer
                                                                                        f
                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                                        The prices for sushi look quite compelling-what was the quality of their fish, cutting and presentation vs. the high end places?

                                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                          l
                                                                                          Lau Jan 15, 2013 07:13 PM

                                                                                          the sushi at yuba is good, its not the absolute top tier in NY (yasuda, 15 east etc), but its a good 2nd tier place

                                                                                          its changed a bit since i wrote this (one of the two chefs left to go do some new project with masa where he came from and they changed / expanded their menu); i dont think it is as good as when i went here when i wrote this, but its still pretty solid
                                                                                          https://www.lauhound.com/2011/04/yuba...

                                                                                          1. re: Lau
                                                                                            f
                                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 07:24 PM

                                                                                            I remember your review including your initial skepticism about Chinese chefs and sushi (lots of Fujianese sushi chefs in New York). Looks like great quality stuff. Good second tier, and the prices look good.

                                                                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                              l
                                                                                              Lau Jan 15, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                                              yah its worth checking out...plus its pretty easy to get a seat

                                                                                          2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                            alkonost Jan 16, 2013 12:25 PM

                                                                                            A very enthusiastic +1 for Yuba!

                                                                                            I would have suggested it as well but, the OP title asked for "authentic" Japanese food, which Yuba does have, but some of the dishes lean towards "fusion" so I wasn't sure if it was an appropriate candidate for the question.

                                                                                            I'd put Yuba the top of the second tier at the very least. If you want better quality fish than what Yuba serves, you're going to have to spend top dollar at an establishment like Yasuda or it's equal. I would say that some of the fish Jack serves at Yuba is top tier in quality (especially the seasonal fishes), and it's said he has the same suppliers as Masa.

                                                                                            High quality sushi (the really good stuff you can't get everywhere) is priced in such a way that it's more like a special occasion meal. This is why Yuba became my neighborhood favorite: it's not a fancy, large or trendy restaurant, but the fish is excellent and very reasonably priced for being of such high-quality. As a result I felt like I was cheating somehow by enjoying such wonderful creatures from the ocean on a regular basis, and still have enough money left over for the rent. Their kitchen is also very good, and Jack's miso black cod made it onto my "last meal if I were to be executed tomorrow" list. If you're partial to mackerels,

                                                                                            I moved to the Dallas area recently, and I'm going through serious sashimi withdrawal. If you want to see how Jack's sashimi is cut and presented, attached are some photos from my last meal at Yuba (a $50 sashimi omakase with some appetizers and some extra sushi ordered at the end). Note that I opted to receive the pieces individually one-at-a-time (re-using my plate), rather than all of the omakase pieces on one plate, so the presentation isn't as nice as it would have been otherwise. The non-sashimi photos are the appetizers (Aji 3 ways, Miso Black Cod, O-Toro tartar with sturgeon caviar). At the end of the meal I ordered some more saba, sanma, ikura and tamago.

                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                             
                                                                                            1. re: alkonost
                                                                                              f
                                                                                              foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 02:48 PM

                                                                                              Wow, amazing for $50. My most expensive sushi meal in NYC was $985 per person (not including sake) at Kuruma (way out of my league now). Amazing sushi-I think best in NYC.

                                                                                              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                alkonost Jan 16, 2013 03:03 PM

                                                                                                Yeah the $50 omakase at Yuba is a very good deal, just keep in mind that there were some appetizers in the pictures that weren't included with the omakase, and at the end I ordered a few more extra pieces (pictures: the tamago, saba,sanma and ikura pictured on the same plate) Everything pictured together sort of blends in as one, so I wanted to note what was a part of the omakase and what were other items I ordered separately. Here's a list of what I remember being served specifically with the $50 omakase:

                                                                                                Herring w/ roe (served with ponzu)
                                                                                                Sea Bream Snapper
                                                                                                Kanpachi
                                                                                                Tai
                                                                                                Tile Fish
                                                                                                Shima Aji
                                                                                                Chu Toro
                                                                                                Sanma
                                                                                                Amaebi w/ Uni
                                                                                                Deep fried Amaebi head
                                                                                                Californian Uni

                                                                                                I may have left out a piece since my memory isn't perfect.

                                                                                                I haven't been to Kuruma, but it sounds like a wonderful place. NYC spoils us, it's so nice to have all these places to dine. Whether you have a big budget or a small one, there's always options out there.

                                                                                                1. re: alkonost
                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                  foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 03:17 PM

                                                                                                  Kuruma was the best place I have been to outside of Japan.

                                                                                                2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                  Lau Jan 16, 2013 03:05 PM

                                                                                                  wth did you order for $985 for one person?

                                                                                                  i mean kuruma is expensive (last time i went $250 per person, no drinks), but not that expensive. I went to a 3 star place in tokyo recently and i think it was like 330 a person

                                                                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                    foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                                                                    It was on and on and on. In investment banker took me there, and we kept going and going with mostly sashimi.

                                                                                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                      Lau Jan 16, 2013 03:26 PM

                                                                                                      haha i mean just the sheer amount of food must've been ridiculous

                                                                                                      i should review Kuruma

                                                                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                                                                        Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 03:32 PM

                                                                                                        Yo, you scholarship me, I'll tag along and translate and add insightful commentary. LOL.

                                                                                                        1. re: Lau
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 04:14 PM

                                                                                                          Please review them. Sit with the chef too, and ask him about each piece of fish and where it comes from.

                                                                                                          1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                            Lau Jan 17, 2013 05:37 AM

                                                                                                            i only sit in front of the chefs, i never sit at a table (and of course i will ask him where the fish comes from, read any of the sushi posts on my blog and thats how all the sushi posts are formatted)

                                                                                                        2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                          alkonost Jan 16, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                                          That must have been heaven. Without the rice to contend with (and fill the stomach), I can see how you easily can wrack up a bill like that on sashimi. Especially if the pieces aren't very large- but hey it's quality that counts!

                                                                                                          1. re: alkonost
                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 05:24 PM

                                                                                                            The quality was well worth it-when someone else was paying ofcourse.

                                                                                                        3. re: Lau
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 07:57 PM

                                                                                                          Do you have some pictures of that place?

                                                                                                  2. re: hungrycomposer
                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                    calf Jan 16, 2013 01:22 PM

                                                                                                    Their sushi was nice but

                                                                                                    1. I didn't like their FoH.
                                                                                                    2. I didn't like the manager who told my chef, in Mandarin, to use less parsley on *my* dish, while I'm sitting *at* the counter. Chef was very professional and I don't know how I would have responded if I were in his place.

                                                                                                    3. I was offended by their stewed yuba, which was cold and had clearly languished all day. It should not have left the kitchen. [This is not something I say lightly.] I didn't like their risotto, because it tasted fake. Tempura was forgettable.

                                                                                                    This was back in August, so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that these issues were part of growing pains. But I have no inclination to go back. For "2nd Tier" restaurants, I'd rather go back to Kanoyama or Hatsuhana—of course both cost a little more.

                                                                                                    On a more positive note, both sushi and sashimi were nice. I'd stick to those.

                                                                                                    1. re: calf
                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                      Lau Jan 16, 2013 01:25 PM

                                                                                                      what FoH?

                                                                                                      And i'm sort of confused by the parsley comment? i mean isn't it just decoration on the plate?

                                                                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                        calf Jan 16, 2013 01:39 PM

                                                                                                        The manager does not get to play "backseat chef" in a restaurant. It is a serious professional transgression, especially in the middle of service.

                                                                                                        The fact that I was there to witness it made it doubly bad. I am just a diner. I don't ask to sit at the sushi bar to see a power conflict get played out. It signals to me that my money is not that important to the house.

                                                                                                        What if I were here with a guest? Just, no.

                                                                                                        So it's not the issue of *me* wanting more/less microgreens [actually I think it was microgreens, the stuff you can buy off of Union Square, so not just conventional parsley]. I know what microgreens taste like, I could care less about quantity. The issue is the relationship between the manager, the chef, and the customer. In that instance, it was a really WTF moment.

                                                                                                        And again, the chef had the grace to ignore the manager's inappropriate behavior, rather than say anything back.

                                                                                                        By FoH I meant the people taking my order, i.e. the waiters.

                                                                                                        1. re: calf
                                                                                                          l
                                                                                                          Lau Jan 16, 2013 01:41 PM

                                                                                                          oh ok

                                                                                                          so the waiters were crappy?

                                                                                                          1. re: Lau
                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                            calf Jan 16, 2013 01:50 PM

                                                                                                            Mediocre. You are digging up all my bad memories, aren't you.

                                                                                                            1. re: calf
                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                              Lau Jan 16, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                                                                              haha sorry just curious as what the problems were

                                                                                                          2. re: calf
                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 02:49 PM

                                                                                                            Are you saying that the waiter or manager told the chef to not give you parsley in order to save a few cents on your meal?

                                                                                                        2. re: calf
                                                                                                          alkonost Jan 16, 2013 01:53 PM

                                                                                                          I'd agree that the kitchen at Kanoyama is more consistent overall, but I've gotten stale/poor quality fish there on multiple occasions which shouldn't happen for what they're charging.

                                                                                                          Out of curiosity Which yuba dish did you get at Yuba? Was it the uni with yuba, or yuba pouch with mushrooms? I think the former is cool while the latter is warm. If you ordered the latter, sorry it sucks that you got it cold :(

                                                                                                      2. f
                                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 15, 2013 07:44 PM

                                                                                                        In the string, so far, there's been a recommendation for Sobaya and Sobakoh. Anyone have any thoughts on the relative merits of the two restaurants? If you want to throw in other soba places, feel free.

                                                                                                        28 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                          l
                                                                                                          Lau Jan 15, 2013 07:57 PM

                                                                                                          i think sobaya is a definite step down from soba koh, i actually find them to be kind of lackluster. i think soba koh is a much better restaurant

                                                                                                          i also like cocoron, but that is for completely non traditional soba
                                                                                                          https://www.lauhound.com/2011/03/soba-koh-underrated-soba-in-the-east-village/
                                                                                                          https://www.lauhound.com/2011/01/coco...

                                                                                                          1. re: Lau
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                                                                                                            tofuavecfa Jan 16, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                                                                            +1 for Cocoron, non traditional but delicious!

                                                                                                            1. re: tofuavecfa
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                                                                                                              Lau Jan 16, 2013 11:07 AM

                                                                                                              to add, my favorites at cocoron are the sansai soba and the natto soba. chicken meatballs are also very good

                                                                                                              1. re: tofuavecfa
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                                                                                                                foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                Can you say more about Cocoron. Is it a soba place? What kind of food and atmostphere and price?

                                                                                                                1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                  Lau Jan 16, 2013 03:07 PM

                                                                                                                  well read my post, its a whole review on it: https://www.lauhound.com/2011/01/coco...

                                                                                                                  but its a soba specialist although they do sort of non-traditional soba and they did so well that they opened a second branch about 4 blocks away from the first one. The original one is tiny with just a bar that fits maybe 7 people and 2 tables that fit 2 people each. The newer place is much bigger with a slightly bigger bar, but alot more tables. The Japanese lady who runs it is really nice too.

                                                                                                            2. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                              Simon Jan 15, 2013 10:07 PM

                                                                                                              i haven't been to Sobaya within the last 3+ years, but it was borderline awful on my last couple visits...i.e. mediocre mostly-white-flour-soba, Latino waiters arguing w/ the Japanese waitresses and generally clueless service, and an vibe and food quality that could be described as lackluster-at-best...can't imagine going back unless multiple reports indicate otherwise...

                                                                                                              1. re: Simon
                                                                                                                Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 07:04 AM

                                                                                                                I found their tsuyu used too much katsuo bushi. It was too smokey. This shop is one of Bon Yagi's mini EV Japanese "Empire" shops.

                                                                                                                1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                  foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                  I have noticed that some very top Japanese chefs seem to like a very smoky dashi. For example Matsuhisa's in L.A. has a very smoky broth. IN fact, I have tried to, but can't seem to recreate it with the various katsuo bushi available in U.S. I am assuming that they use a much better grade of katsuo, perhaps they grate their own from the whole fish, and perhaps there is a difference between what we get here and the traditional 6 month process of smoking that makes a big taste difference.

                                                                                                                  Who is Bon Yagi and what are EV Japanese "Empire" shops? Didn't understand your point.

                                                                                                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                                    E Eto Jan 16, 2013 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                    That's the guy who opened such restaurants as Sakagura, Decibel, Sobaya, Cha-an, Robataya, maybe a couple others.

                                                                                                                    1. re: E Eto
                                                                                                                      Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                      Shabu Tatsu, Rai Rai Ken, the curry place (can't remember the name). I think the yakiniku place on 9th as well.

                                                                                                                    2. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                                      Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                      The only soba shop I've ever eaten at in the U.S. is Sobaya. All my other experience are in Japan. So I can't speak about top L.A. chefs, etc. We usually make (instant) soba at home. I brought back a whole katsuo from a visit to Kochi City last year. We haven't dug into yet. Need to get a shaver actually...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                        Hope to hear how it tastes. Apparantly there's whole katsuo that goes through a smoking process, but then there's an old style method that adds a month or two of fermentation that is getting harder to find. One Japanese food drama called Osen showed an episode in which an artisan was struggling with the costs of continuing to make katsuo with the more complex process.

                                                                                                                        When you make "instant" do you also mean instant soba broth?

                                                                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                                          Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 10:12 AM

                                                                                                                          We usually use Hon Dashi and shoyu and maybe something else. Mrs. Silverjay is behind the recipe. I like various toppings such as negi, ground sesame, nori, shiso, and sometimes slices of okra.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 03:02 PM

                                                                                                                            Is Mrs. Silverjay Japanese?

                                                                                                                            I cooked my wife a dinner and used real dashi made from the katsuo bushi and kombu. I felt it didn't have enough flavor, and supplemented it with a bit of hon dashi. So I supplemented it with some hon dashi. I think the kombu I am using is not as good as it should be because the katsuo bushi tastes pretty good. My wife seemed to prefer when I supplemented, though the osuimono I made used the straight ichiban dashi. IT was quite delicious without any additions. It had less of the glutamate flavor, but I think if I can find better kombu, it will taste better.

                                                                                                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                                              Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 03:37 PM

                                                                                                                              I've never even attempted to make dashi. Had bought that katsuo with the intention of taking a crack though. Cheers to you for your culinary chops. I gotta get the shaver and give it a shot.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                                foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 04:17 PM

                                                                                                                                I think it's a must to get good dashi. It's so amazingly easy to make without using instant. But getting the right kombu and katsuo is harder here.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                          Lau Jan 16, 2013 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                          wow i knew he owned a bunch, but i didnt realize he owned that many

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lau
                                                                                                                            Silverjay Jan 16, 2013 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                            Between his company and the company behind the Totto's/ Aburiya Kinnosuke, etc., that is a decent chunk of the authentic Japanese places in Manhattan...There is also a company behind Onya and the various Japanese places with West/East in the name. I think that company is based in Kyushu. Ippudo is a chain from Fukuoka in Kyushu. En Brasserie is a local branch of a Japan chain...

                                                                                                                            1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                              Lau Jan 16, 2013 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                              yah thats interesting

                                                                                                                              1. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                                foodwhisperer Jan 17, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                                Wow, I'm amazed at the Japanese monopoly. But basically I'm happy Bon Yagi created "Little Tokyo" in the EV. Too bad they all aren't really good. I do love Robataya though.

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                                                                                                                                  foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2013 07:31 PM

                                                                                                                                  Sorry, what's EV?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                                                                                                                    alkonost Jan 17, 2013 07:46 PM

                                                                                                                                    East Village

                                                                                                                            2. re: Silverjay
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                                                                                                                              foodlovergeneral Oct 20, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                              Did you ever find your shaver?

                                                                                                                        3. re: Simon
                                                                                                                          alkonost Jan 17, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                          Simon: I had a similar, lukewarm, experience at Sobaya about 1 year ago regarding the food. I had high hopes since I love soba (I always have some at home and make it often), and I was looking forward to trying it fresh for the first time.

                                                                                                                          I was wondering if I'd gone there on an off-night as the dried soba I use at home tasted better than Sobaya's fresh noodles. There was an unpleasant chemical taste to the broth which accompanied it, so I nudged the bowl aside. The Ika Meshi tasted like artificial smoke flavoring.

                                                                                                                          On the bright side, the shirasu & mitsuba kakiage was fantastic.

                                                                                                                          1. re: alkonost
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                                                                                                                            Lau Jan 17, 2013 05:03 PM

                                                                                                                            go to soba koh, its very close and way better

                                                                                                                            1. re: Lau
                                                                                                                              alkonost Jan 17, 2013 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                              Thank you for the recommendation, Lau! I'll be sure to give it a try :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: alkonost
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                                                                                                                                Lau Jan 17, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                                definitely, take a look at my review, but definitely get the cold uni ikura soba (by far my favorite) as well as their tamagoyaki, they do a great job on both

                                                                                                                                i like the tempura as well

                                                                                                                        4. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                          AdamD Jan 16, 2013 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                          Sobaya has gone way downhill since its glory days. Its not cheap either.

                                                                                                                        5. v
                                                                                                                          VitalForce Jan 16, 2013 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                          I ate at Oh! Taisho at 9 St. Marks Place recently and found it delicious and cheap.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: VitalForce
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                                                                                                                            foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2013 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                            Oh Taisho is a yakitori place, yes? How does it compare to Torishin, Yakitori Totto or any other great yakitori place?
                                                                                                                            1. Ambiance
                                                                                                                            2. Friendliness
                                                                                                                            3. Fun
                                                                                                                            4. Food quality
                                                                                                                            5. Authenticity

                                                                                                                            Anyone?

                                                                                                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                              Lau Jan 17, 2013 05:40 AM

                                                                                                                              Torishin or Totto are both alot better than Oh! Taisho except I really like Oh! Taisho's tsukune; I've been eating there since college since its right next to NYU and for some reason they've always had really tasty tsukune

                                                                                                                              its a younger crowd, definitely more down market, probably more on the fun side. Oh! Taisho isn't bad btw and it's kind of tasty, but definitely not as good as Torishin or Totto

                                                                                                                              1. re: Lau
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                                                                                                                                foodwhisperer Jan 30, 2013 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                I've been liking Rockmeisha a lot lately. The pork jowl is great, so is the pig feet, so is the saba. So are the staff very likeable.

                                                                                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
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                                                                                                                                  Lau Jan 31, 2013 06:23 AM

                                                                                                                                  i generally like rockmeisha they have good gyoza and tonsoku (pigs feet) which is supposed to be their specialty

                                                                                                                                  their ramen is fairly decent as well

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lau
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                                                                                                                                    foodlovergeneral Feb 21, 2013 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    Has anyone any thoughts on "bugs" (not the food, but the Japanese foodery)?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                                      foodwhisperer Feb 21, 2013 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                                      I love the place. Japanese home cooking in a warm atmosphere.
                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873068
                                                                                                                                      here's a link to CH thread. look at my long review there.
                                                                                                                                      here's a link to NY TImes review
                                                                                                                                      http://eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.c...

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Lau
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                                                                                                                                      foodwhisperer Feb 22, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                                      Grilled mackeral is good.
                                                                                                                                      Sardines when they have it, very good.
                                                                                                                                      Pork belly good
                                                                                                                                      Octopus pancake pretty good
                                                                                                                                      Tonsoku ( pig toe) and gyoza as you said ,are good
                                                                                                                                      zuri (gizzards are good)
                                                                                                                                      had a cold tofu dish that was good.
                                                                                                                                      and had a great dessert , not on menu that was made special for us.
                                                                                                                                      Fried chicken isn't bad

                                                                                                                            2. g
                                                                                                                              gabandgobble Feb 22, 2013 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                              For soba, I highly recommend Cocoron, which is in LES. Their dip sobas are excellent, and my personal favorite is the yuba dib soba. The hot water they pour into the dipping sauce creates an amazing broth.

                                                                                                                              I'm not sure how to categorize Sakagura in Midtown East, they serve everything from soba, sashimi, grilled fish and donburi, but the food there is great. I work downtown, but I have made the crosstown trek to Sakagura multiple times because the fresh, well-prepared meals are worth it. Dinner gets a little pricey, but the lunch meal deals are extremely reasonable.

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                                                                                                                                foodlovergeneral Oct 20, 2013 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                Anyone have updates to inexpensive, authentic Japanese? I tried "bugs". Disappointed. Tried "Rockmeisha". Gritty, fun and good.

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                                  small h Oct 20, 2013 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                                  I can't give you a detailed report on Fukurou, because I only had one thing - a rice pot with shellfish. It was very aromatic, and the scallops in it were cooked perfectly (unfortunately, the red clam was very tough). It's much more sedate than, say, Hagi or Yokocho, and also somewhat more expensive. I'd definitely go back if I were nearby and hungry. The couple next to me got the yellowtail collar, and it looked fantastic. But I could barely finish that rice pot.

                                                                                                                                  http://fukurou.soh.bz/

                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h
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                                                                                                                                    foodlovergeneral Oct 20, 2013 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    I had one really great meal there. I had one very mediocre one that embarrassed me with a friend.

                                                                                                                                    Was your inability to finish the rice pot related to size or to quality?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                                      small h Oct 20, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                                      Size, and also burn-out. It's really a 2-3 person dish, but it appealed to me, so I ordered it. I have trouble eating so much wet rice at one sitting, even if it's pretty good, which this was.

                                                                                                                                      What happened during your lousy meal? I've read negative reports about the service, but I felt very well taken care of, by a female server of a certain age.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: small h
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                                                                                                                                        foodlovergeneral Oct 20, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                                                                                                        Food quality was surprisingly bad after a really excellent meal.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
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                                                                                                                                          small h Oct 20, 2013 05:20 PM

                                                                                                                                          That's unfortunate, and even more so since you brought a guest. That would make me hesitant to return.

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