Japanese-People Approved Best Japanese Restaurants in New York

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Restaurant business in New York City is one of the most competitive in the world, and if you are not on top of the game, the next best thing will come and kick you out so quickly. Japanese restaurants are no exception. There are so many Japanese restaurants come and go every week, and only handfuls are continuously favored by New Yorkers and stay in the game.

  1. Sushi Yasuda (Sushi)
  2. Sushi Nakazawa (Sushi)
  3. Brushstroke (Kaiseki)
  4. Kyo Ya (Kaiseki)
  5. En Japanese Brasserie (Kaiseki)
  6. Kajitsu (Shojin Cuisine)
  7. Torishin (Yakitori)
  8. Samurai Mama (Udon Noodles)
  9. Cocoron (Soba Noodles)
  10. Hakata Tonton (Izakaya)

1. Sushi Yasuda

Sushi

With all high-end sushi shops popping up with limited sushi bar seatings and hard to get a reservation, Sushi Yasuda seemed bit dated, not like 1955 old, but American Psycho old. Maybe because the restaurant is very mono-toned… covered in pale wood, which was very sophisticated when it opened in 1999. As a matter of fact, Sushi Yasuda was one of the hard to get reservation restaurant. Fast forward to today, long after Chef Yasuda returned to Japan, Sushi Yasuda is still one of the popular sushi bars in New York City with one Michelin Star. FYI, they practice no tipping policy.

What to order:

Order omakase for old time sake.

Restaurant Info of Sushi Yasuda:

Navigation: 204 E 43rd St., New York, NY 10017
Ring: 212-972-1001
Surf: www.sushiyasuda.com

 

2. Sushi Nakazawa

Sushi

Nakazawa_exterior

Photo Credit: http://sushinakazawa.com/

Sushi Nakazawa is as close as people can get to Sukiyabashi Jiro, without leaving the country. Chef Daisuke Nakazawa was a protege of chef Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dream of Sushi). Unlike his mentor’s subways station restaurant, Nakazawa is located on a charming street in West village. The rest is similar, both are omakase only, neither has very little flexibility and one of the best sushi experience of your life. If not, at least, you can brag about it at your next business meeting.

Nakazawa_food

Photo Credit: com

What to order:

Omakase only.

Restaurant Info of Sushi Nakazawa:

Navigation: 23 Commerce St., New York, NY 10014
Ring: 212-924-2212
Surf: http://sushinakazawa.com/

 

3. Brushstroke

Kaiseki

brush-stroke_interior

Photo Credit: http://www.davidbouley.com/brushstroke-main/

Chef David Bouley, an acclaimed celebrity chef based in New York City and a long-time admirer of Japanese cuisine, opened kaiseki Japanese restaurant in Tribeca. The open kitchen allows diners to see how your dishes are made by international chefs. If you order seasonal kaiseki menu, you’ll start dinner with the freshest sashimi, and continue to a few of fusion dishes. One of their signature dishes is chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard) with truffle. It’s not at all authentic, but rather brand new dish using traditional chawanmushi. Many dishes take the similar approach, and create a brand new sensation to traditional dishes, and sometimes vice versa, like ice cream with soy sauce.

brushstroke_food

Photo Credit: http://www.davidbouley.com/brushstroke-main/

What to order:

Seasonal omakase is a wonderful experience, but pricey. A la carte is also seasonal and you can order individual dishes to create your tasting menu.

Restaurant Info of Brushstroke:

Navigation: 30 Hudson St., New York, NY 10013
Ring: 212-791-3771
Surf: http://www.davidbouley.com/brushstroke-main/

 

4. Kyo Ya

Kaiseki

kyo-ya

Photo Credit: http://www.kyoyanyc.com/

A Michelin starred restaurant kaiseki restaurant offers both tasting (reserve at least a day in advance) and a la carte. Their pressed sushi are something that regular sushi bars don’t offer. Instead of individual bite size, pressed sushi are prepared in large shape. Cured fish, such as marinated seared mackerel are placed on top of vinegar seasoned sushi rice and pressed together, then cut into a large bite size. Kyo Ya makes beautiful ones Tasmanian salmon trout wrapped with oboro-kombu seaweed.

kyo-ya

Photo Credit: http://www.kyoyanyc.com/

What to order:

If you are not going to do a tasting menu, start with a couple of hot and cold appetizers, such as Dashimaki Tamago, delicate omelet rolled with dashi broth and Ebi Shinjo, minced shrimp meat with deep fried with some Japanese herbs or smoked sea eel. French Japanese restaurant Autre Kyo Ya is a sister restaurant of Kyo YA.

Restaurant Info of Kyo Ya:

Navigation: 94 E 7th St., New York, NY 10009
Ring: 212-982-4140
Surf: www.kyoyanyc.com

 

5. En Japanese Brasserie

Kaiseki

En opened serving relatively reasonably priced kaiseki menu, starting $80 (“relatively”, considering the average of tasting menu is $100 in New York City). Even in New York City, people thought it was pretty ballsy of En, not to have extensive sushi menu, and call themselves Japanese brasserie and serve an appetizer like aspic of tiger blowfish for $20. But when food is great, people frequent, including Martha Stewart. Maybe it’s the melt in your mouth Miyagi beef, or the house made fresh tofu. People are still in love with En after 10 years, and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.

en japanese brasserie

Photo Credit: http://www.enjb.com/ (Adrian Gaut)

What to order:

Kaiseki tasting menu is an easy and smart choice. You can see what EN is about, cook with seasonal ingredients to savor the peak flavor. There are 3 options for kaiseki, including a vegan option. House make fresh tofu is also a popular item for the table to start the meal.

Restaurant Info of En Japanese Brasserie:

Navigation: 435 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
Ring: 212-647-9196
Surf: www.enjb.com

 

6. Kajitsu

Shojin Cuisine

kajitsu

Photo Credit: http://kajitsunyc.com/index.html

Kajitsu means a day of celebration Japanese, and the restaurant Kajitsu wants their diners to have a special time whenever they dine. Kajitsu serves shojin style tasting menu. What that means is no animal or fish products in the menu, and is derived from Zen Buddism. Sounds serious? No at all! Dishes are rather beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. Seasonal vegetables are steamed, braised or grated into soup, some soy by-products like yuba skin are used to wrap vegetable to accentuate different kind of textures. You’ll taste more vegetable than you’ve known in your whole life throughout the meal. Kajitsu is awarded with a Michelin star.

kajitsu

Photo Credit: http://kajitsunyc.com/index.html

What to order:

Tasting menu only. Vegan friendly.

Restaurant Info of Kajitsu:

Navigation: 125 E 39th St., New York, NY 10016
Ring: 212-228-4873
Surf: http://kajitsunyc.com/

 

7. Torishin

Yakitori

torishin_interior

Photo Credit: http://torishinny.com/

There are many reasons that you can think why, Torishin, a restaurant serving yakitori, grilled chicken on sticks, is a Michelin starred. One, their new(ish) location is gorgeous. It’s simple, functional, yet serene. Their beautiful counter is made from 500 years old cypress tree from Japan. Then their chicken. It’s organic and carefully prepared to one by one by hands. Bamboo sticks are used for their sticks and meats are grilled over special charcoal called binchotan. According to their chefs, cooking with binchotan charcoal makes outside crispy yet still juicy inside. Their secret sauce is similar to the one from their original Tokyo location.
torishin_food_edited

Photo Credit: http://torishinny.com/

What to order:

You can order a la carte, but there aren’t many yakitori restaurants in the United States offering omakase menu, so why not order one? Omakase covers many varieties of meat, plus refreshing housemade dessert.

Restaurant Info of Torishin:

Navigation: 362 W 53rd St., New York, NY 10019
Ring: 212-757-0108
Surf: http://torishinny.com

 

8. Samurai Mama

Udon Noodles

samuraimama_interior_edited

Photo Credit: http://www.samuraimama.com/

You can skip a massive sushi section at Samurai Mama menu, NOT because they are bad (they are pretty good) or it’s kind of confusing (what is sushi taco anyway?), but because you need to eat udon here. There are 3 styles of udon here: “Chilled” i.e. cold noodles; “dump style” which you pour the sauce over udon noodles, and “kake” is the one noodles come in your choice of soup. Either way, hand pulled udon noodles are plump chewy and delicious. What’s the sercret? Their water. They use special Kaiki Water, which is free of chemicals and toxins, but full of revitalizing energy. They use Kaiki Water for all food preparation, as well as drinking. So sit on a long communal table like a proper Brooklyn hipster, or grab one of a booth with friends and enjoy some soup noodles! If you still want to try sushi taco, go ahead, but there’s no tortilla involved.

samuraimama_food_edited

Photo Credit: http://www.samuraimama.com/

What to order:

Salad udon is great as a chilled noodle dish. It literally eats like salad, crunchy and delicious. Nikujil Kake udon is hearty with braised pork belly and scallion, so is shrimp tempura udon. In case you are wondering, yes they own Bozu down the street, as well.

Restaurant Info of Samurai Mama:

Navigation: 205 Grand St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Ring: 718-599-6161
Surf: www.samuraimama.com

 

9. Cocoron

Soba Noodles

Cocoron specializes in soba noodles. The owner is a trained soba maker with 10+ years of experience in Japan. Soba is temperamental than you think, so depending on the weather, temperature, water, condition of buckwheat flour and where its from, he adjust how to make them daily. There are many kinds of soba dishes at Cocoron. The first thing you want to decide is you want it to be hot or cold. What makes Cocoron stands out from the rest of soba restaurant is its price. It’s relatively reasonable compare to other similar establishments. It doesn’t mean lesser quality, but its an effort and passion of the owner. He wishes to many people to enjoy his soba noodles. It’s healthy and his broth are creative and fun.

cocoron

Photo Credit: http://www.cocoronandgoemon.com/

What to order:

If you are looking for traditional soba dishes, kamo-nanban, duck meat with leek in dashi broth or warm tanuki soba with deep fried tempura batter flakes in dashi broth will hit the spot. For something different, and bit unorthodox, try tom yum dip soba or warm pork kimchee soba.

Restaurant Info of Cocoron:

Navigation: 37 Kenmare St., New York, NY 10012
Ring: 212-966-0800

Navigation: 61 Delancey St., New York, NY 10002
Ring: 212-925-5220

Surf: www.cocoronandgoemon.com

 

10. Hakata Tonton

Izakaya

Hakata-exterior

Photo Credit: http://tontonnyc.com/

You’ll be eating lots of pork at Hakata Tonton. Some are more familiar pork, like tonkatsu (pork cutlet), but others are more adventurous, like pork tonsosku (feet), tongue and intestines. Hakata Tonton is Japanese soul food restaurant specialized in pork dishes, and that made them so popular people still complain about not be able to get a reservation on the weekend. So if you are not into pork, options are slim, but there are still great dishes like seared salmon with yuzu sauce, spicy caviar (mentaiko) spinach fried rice and grilled black cod. But really, you need to order one of the hot pot with much, much pork.

hakata tonton

Photo Credit: http://tontonnyc.com/

What to order:

A hot pot is a very popular meal in Japan. Berkshire pork shabushabu is a solid choice, and Special Hakata Tonton hot pot is slightly more adventurous, because there are more variety of pig parts in it. Order house made gyoza and some beer and think which hot pot to order.

Restaurant Info of Hakata Tonton:

Navigation: 61 Grove St., New York, NY 10014
Ring: 212-242-3699
Surf: http://tontonnyc.com/

 
*All prices, numbers and menu descriptions mentioned in the article are from the time of this article’s publishing. So keep in mind, they may have changed since then.

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