Daruma-Ya Izakaya : fantastic
Daruma-Ya has opened in what was Greenwich Grill. The owners are the same. Sushi Azabu downstairs has a new chef. Tirado-san ( the old chef) was sent to Kyoto,Japan by the company to help open a new restaurant there. The new sushi chef just came to Azabu from Japan.
At Daruma-Ya, The atmosphere is the same as it was at Greenwich Grill. Quiet, upscale, simple, with very attentive service. You just get the feeling of a "special meal" coming. It is not like a Sakagura, Decibel etc it is not a loud, heavy drinking atmosphere. In a sense it is more like a Kyo Ya. Although many dishes here are typical of Izakaya food i,e, Takowasa, pickled vegetables etc.
Their online menu explains their goal is high quality food and they talk about their ingredients. Their soba is a specialty of theirs.
They have a tasting menu, but it is for 2 people, I dined solo. So I ordered a la carte
-The Tako Wasa happened to be very well made. I almost got the Ita Wasa ( fishcake with wasabi and shiso) but I'll try next time. It looked good.
-Homemade tofu with uni and ikura - what can I say but perfect
-Shrimp Tempura- maybe the best in NY
-Washugyu Tataki with yuzu kosho- thin sliced, high quality meat, good dish
-Live scallop with yuzu and sea salt - simply amazing
-- Uni Soba - their soba master makes excellent soba. They serve both hot and cold soba. The uni soba in my opinion is as good as it gets.
As they explain " the buckwheat is made from the highest grade buckwheat. The "kitawase" buckwheat is from Hokkaido, grown in Seattle, shipped back to japan for milling and then back to New York.."
The broth you add at the end, is unbelievable, better than I've had at Hanamura-An. The Soba here is a perfect last course, unless of course you want dessert.
Of course , I had dessert. A fresh mocha filled with chestnut and berry, and red bean. In some ways like sasamochi without the leave, but with added things like chestnut and cherry.
I attached some pictures, sorry about the poor quality. The food is the highest quality.
I suggest you get to this place before the NYT or Michelin. There are a limited number of seats, and it will be impossible to get in. This is one of the best spots in town, for simple well made Japanese dishes.
Wow - that sounds and looks spectacular and has just now shot to the top of the list.
*Edit - did you sit at the sushi bar? Or at a table? In any case, reservation made. :)
All dining is at tables , either in the bar area or the dining room ( sushi bar is downstairs, a separate restaurant,still called sushi Azabu).
They have a full bar, several sake choices, specialty cocktails and some shochu. It is not an extensive selection , yet, but I think they plan to expand that.
Lunch is an all " set" menu and is good. Dinner is far more serious, more choices and more knowledgable service.
Both managers, although not Japanese, have spent over 6 months working for the restaurant, in their Nagoya branch. They are quite good.
I will be in Japan next week, so I'm getting excited about the food. I've been reading many CH'ers recs on the Japan board. I can barely remember the names of places I've eaten in Japan, as I never had to know the names of the places. Now I need to know so I can make reservations.
Okie, just came back from Daruma-ya, slightly tipsy :)
In one sentence, better than Shigure, which makes it the best Izakaya in Tribeca (the best in lower Manhattan champion remains with Yopparai, IMO).
Sake list is alright, standard offering. I got the Kotsuzumi Rojo Hana Ari (bloom on the path, in Eng). Smooth, silky and lightly creamy.
For food, I got the toko wasa. Was good but I think Fukurou has better one. Nasu Ageni, JP eggplant in soba broth. Love it. You can't go wrong with nasu, really. My favorite of the night was the Grindara Saikyo Yai (grilled black cod in Kyoto style miso). Perfectly cooked, not a minute more or less. Uber buttery, savory though slightly saltier than I prefer. I would come back just for this one.
Regardless I was full, I ordered the Seiro Soba - it is their icon dish! And i am glad I did. It was served cold along a dipping sauce which is made of kombu dashi, bonito, mirin and soy sauce. i could only finish half of it but I would def recommend it.
All in all, very good meal. Service was very good; GM Nicholas was great, who told me that the Japanese owner is expanding business in the US.
Would def come back whenever I want a Izakaya fare.