251 West 55th Street,
Phone: (212) 245-4555
Climb the stairs of this second floor walk-up and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped out of Manhattan and into an izakaya in Tokyo. One of my favorite food escapes in the city, grab a seat along the counter to watch the yakitori chefs at work. “Yakitori” translates as grilled bird with an emphasis on head-to-toe-chicken, but some of our favorite dishes never touch the grill at all.
I highly recommend start with a shochu cocktail, a Japanese distilled spirit mixed with soda water and your choice of fresh-squeezed lime, lemon, orange or grapefruit which you squeeze yourself at the table. Sample the fermented salmon with salmon roe, marinated octopus and seaweed salad to start. As for yakitori, you really can’t go wrong, but our favorites are the shrimp, pork with mustard, tsukune (chicken meatballs) and chicken with wasabi. (Get there early if you want to sample delicacies, like chicken hearts, knees, feet and more.) Don’t skip dessert! There’s a divine coconut milk with frozen banana & tapioca pearls.
Start With: Seaweed salad; fermented salmon & raw octopus marinated in wasabi.
Eat: Tsukune meatballs, shrimp yakitori, pork with mustard & breast with wasabi.
Don’t Miss Dish: Enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon; chicken breast wrapped in shiso leaf; salmon siokara
End With: Coconut milk with frozen bananas and tapioca pearls
Drink This: Fresh fruit shochu cocktail
Occasion: Casual dinner, Japanophile, food pilgrimage