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.
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.
Sakagura and Decibel are owned by same people. I think Sakagura is better than Decibel in all regards, but I think the clientele is similar. I think Daruma is a more upscale clientele than both of those.
Nomadmanh: Although I like several dishes at Yopparai and I like the place, i prefer Daruma ya. Fukurou I went to New years and I like some of their fish dishes very much. But I think Daruma ya is better all around. However, Hirohisa is perhaps the best downtown Japanese kappo .
Shirang: I am glad you enjoyed your soba and other dishes. I love the Daifuku. I may try their new restaurant in Kyoto or their old one in Nagoya. I like that they have their managers work in Japan. Their chefs all worked in Japan.
For some reason the food is better for dinner than for lunch.
Markseiden: Lunch I think will run about $40 all in.
Dinner ran me over $100.
Some of the best soba I've had, better than soba koh. Corn tempura was excellent, my shrimp tempura that came with the soba course was a bit soggy and greasy though. Saba Nitsuke was delicious. Uni Ikura tofu was delicious, the ikura was some of the best I've had outside of Japan. The wasabi used here is of excellent quality, doesnt taste like the domestic stuff from the pacific northwest. Only clunker dish was the dashimaki tamago, a bit too salty. Daifuku was great as well. Shochu selection was okay, but at least the pours was generous compared to other Japanese places.
Latest update: tried sharing the set menu , which they say is for 2 people. Except for 2 soba dishes, and it is only the plain soba that comes with the set, the meal is inadequate.
There needs to be at least one more course. The food all tasted very good but tiny courses. The lobster-uni dish and the soba course were the only decent size dishes.
The tofu tasted good but about a third of what it should be. The foie gras sushi, with rice too hot, tasted delicious, but it fell apart. The service was fast. Some little side plates were cleared before we were done with them. Dessert was served before we could add another course. We left hungry and not happy.
A la carte seems the way to go here. With wine the bill was $200. Surcharge to add to the soba i.e. uni, batarga, duck etc. Duck surcharge was $12, Batarga $7.