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Aug 6, 2014 09:18 AM

NYC's Underground Japanese Eats

Hi! I am looking for new or old Japanese restaurants in NYC that are not so well known. From izakayas to sushi ... pretty much any style of Japanese cuisine that's delicious and off the beaten track. Thanks!!

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  1. Soba Koh
    Jin Ramen
    Katsu Hama
    Menkui Tei
    Minamoto Kitchoan
    Radiance Tea House & Books

    See also:

    "Introduction to Japanese" thread

    4 Replies
    1. re: Scott_C

      To me there are no "secret" places left. But I surely second Minamoto Kitchoan.
      I'll list some that aren't listed above anyway.
      Sakagura ( izakaya)
      Yokocho ( yakitori etc)
      Takahachi Bakery
      Hirohisa (kappa)
      Misoya ( ramen)
      Kura ( sushi)
      Inakaya ( robata)
      Rosanjin ( kaiseki)
      Cha'An ( tea house)
      Hakata Ton Ton

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        what's 'underground' in the internet age?

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          Is Tsukushi still around? Do they still have no signage?

          1. re: fooder

            Yes, it's still there at 300 E.41; they have a simple black awning with 'Tsukushi' in small white letters.

      2. It's not much of a secret anymore but Angel's Share, the cocktail lounge hidden inside Yokocho, makes some great drinks with Japanese ingredients.

        1. I don't think Yopparai gets much attention on this board but it certainly deserves to be talked about; I wrote this review recently:


          I can't say enough good things about it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Spiritchaser

            Yes, Yopparai is definitely excellent!

            1. 1. Jukai
              I mentioned this place a couple times here.
              It is not of 15 East quality, but the price-performance ratio is very good, esp. lunch deals (although not as impressive as it used to be when it just opened, but still good enough) and the chef-owner watanabe san offers good daily osusume (recommendation) menu.

              Must try:
              * Abalone with uni + grated daikon radish sauce. Abalone is only slightly cooked so that it still preserves fresh abalone aroma.
              * Eel over rice (una-don). Made with fresh eel caught in Long Island and fresh 'sancho (peppercorn)' as opposed to powder.
              * Order uni-don during lunch time for only $20.

              2. Sushi You
              More like a lunch place. Where else can we have assorted nigiri sushi, or special chirashi sushi composed of uni, ikura, tuna, hamachi, scallop, crab meat, salmon, octopus, snapper, and eggs for only $15?

              3. Wasan
              Creative Japanese style izakaya.

              Must try:
              * Uni Lover - Fresh uni and avocado with garlic + peanut oil sauce (which is not pungent but subtle enough only to enhance the uni flavor) over homemade uni chips.
              * Foie Gras Don - Pan-seared foie gras over rice.

              13 Replies
              1. re: kosmose7

                I've never been to Jukai, but now I will check it out. Wassan i've been to a few times. I highly recommend Hirohisa, japanese food lovers will be amazed

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Hi foodwhisperer!
                  Jukai was the best when it first opened about 2~3 years ago. It is still good these days but not as great as it used to be. So please bear it in mind. :)

                  As for Hirohisa, I liked it very much, although I felt the price could have been 20- 30% less for what I got. But yes, I loved their food as you said. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9124...

                  1. re: kosmose7

                    These all look really good! I can't really get out for lunch any more though. Are you back in NYC, kosmose?

                    1. re: fooder

                      No, I am still in Hong Kong! Enjoying "last minute sale" of air-flown Japanese sashimi at Japanese supermarkets every night, ha. Minutes ago, I bought fresh, never frozen otoro from Kyushu and uni, both for only U$21!

                      1. re: kosmose7

                        Sounds great. I'm originally born and raised in HK, but haven't even been back to visit in a few years. How's the restaurant scene lately? Must not be great if you're eating from the supermarkets every night!?

                        1. re: fooder

                          Ha ha. Only temporarily until the restaurants change their menu. It is chronic for me since I dine out every day. It happened in New York too. :)

                2. re: kosmose7

                  I used to freguent Jukai last year like at least once a week for lunch but I noticed their quality going down to the point where my food had strange rotted smell on my last visit. I stopped going since then..maybe I should give them another try.

                  I need to try Sushi You very soon. Thanks for the tip. I've always passed by it thought it was one of those mediocre places given the name, Sushi 'You'. lol

                  1. re: Monica

                    Yes, I noticed that Jukai is not as superb as it used to be. Nevertheless, still good value for money, I think.

                    Sushi You's chef owner is a Japanese, and it's not a top tier sushi place at all, but what you get for U$15 during lunch time is incredibly good. It used to be patronized by Japanese only, but I see a lot of Koreans these days too. lol

                  2. re: kosmose7

                    Thank you, Kosmose. I just came back from Sushi You and I must say it was REALLY good. I ordered chef's sp chirash and the quality was really really good for $$. I liked the uni so much I ordered extra. Ikura was so firm and fresh. Unagi had a wonderful texture, firm and slightly chewy in a good way...not too sweet or mushy like I am used to. Salmon was huge. The chef used torch to slightly char the flash. It was firm and fatty.
                    I can't wait until next week to go back. To be honest, I thought the quality was much better than Sushi Yasuda's I had not too long ago.
                    The only thing a bit disappointing was their miso soup which was just salty with no flavor but I loved their salad dressing. It was typical Japanese ginger dressing but it was more complex maybe due to some kind of cream based sauce maybe mayo. Most of the customers were older Japanese men and I felt like I was one of the very few non Japanese which made me feel slightly awkward especially because I was dining alone at the bar.
                    Thank you for recommending the place.

                    1. re: Monica

                      Hi Monica!
                      I'm glad you liked it!

                      "The only thing a bit disappointing was their miso soup which was just salty with no flavor" I couldn't have described it better! Exactly what I think of their miso soup ha ha. That's why I normally choose salad over miso soup for their lunch set. lol

                      I see pretty many Korean customers these days too. I think most of them are office workers from buildings nearby.

                      1. re: kosmose7

                        They gave me both the soup and the salad but I only had the salad. =) I am trying to figure out what's inside their salad dressing. ha.

                      2. re: Monica

                        Have you tried butterfish which is also near our offices? I was going to take my coworkers to omakase at Butterfish but now that they have relaunched as a kosher restaurant I wonder if some place like Sushi You might be a better experience.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          I do not recommend Butterfish. I went there few months ago and it was bad. I spent relatively a large amount of money for lunch and it was a total disappointment. I think the sushi was prepared by some Mexican guy inside the kitchen. They had no bar or counter area where you can see the chef working.