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Best Japanese food in NYC: Sushi, ramen and more

TONY uncovers New York City’s best Japanese food, from standout noodle bowls at bare-bones joints to top-notch sushi at downtown gems.

Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Sushi at Neta

New York's Japanese food scene continues to grow, with ramen dens, Far East gastropubs and pristine sushi temples popping up around Gotham. Whether you're craving raw-fish delicacies from Michelin-starred sushi bosses or yakitori washed down with an icy mug of Sapporo, we’ve got you covered. Here's where to find the best Japanese food in New York City, from toro-touting Masa to East Village ramen-ya Ippudo.

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Best sushi

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12 best sushi restaurants in NYC

TONY trekked all over town checking out the top toro-touting dens in the city, both old-school joints and big-ticket temples. Here are the best of the best. As Sakura Matsuri blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, we’ve got Japan on the mind, namely its most delicious export: sushi. Weeding out the less-than-best competition, these are Gotham’s best sushi restaurants, from no-nonsense sashimi spots nestled in nondescript office buildings to shiny toro-touting palaces helmed by Michelin-starred toques. Sushi fanatics, you’re welcome. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC div.info-block { margin-bottom: 35px; } div.info-block div.thumbnail { width: 150px; display: inline-block; margin-right: 15px; vertical-align: top; } div.info-block div.info { width: 480px; display: inline-block; } USHIWAKAMARU Within Gotham’s sushi-restaurant titans, a state of hushed reverence often pervades. Not so at Hideo Kuribara’s ramshackle subterranean restaurant, where patrons stumble in from Houston Street late in the evening (night-owl ramen is available when the sushi counter shuts down). The affable Kuribara stands over the modest wood counter, a twinkle in his eye, pressing vinegared rice grains so that they barely hold together. Those warm, loose lobes are crowned with superlative seafood specimens: a tumble of velvety glass shrimp, almost obscenely lush slips of fatty red snapper and meaty, soy-lacquered eel, served on a glinting black plate. Regulars send Kuribara titani

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Restaurants

Sushi bosses

We picked New York City’s best sushi restaurants—now meet the fish-slicing masters behind the counters. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC You might also like NYC’s best sushi restaurants: The top 12 sushi spots in the city TONY trekked all over town checking out the top toro-touting dens in the city, both old-school joints and big-ticket temples. Here are the best of the best. As Sakura Matsuri blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, we’ve got Japan on the mind, namely its most delicious export: sushi. Weeding out the less-than-best competition, these are Gotham’s best sushi restaurants, from no-nonsense sashimi spots nestled in nondescript office buildings to shiny toro-touting palaces helmed by Michelin-starred toques. Sushi fanatics, you’re welcome. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC div.info-block { margin-bottom: 35px; } div.info-block div.thumbnail { width: 150px; display: inline-block; margin-right: 15px; vertical-align: top; } div.info-block div.info { width: 480px; display: inline-block; } USHIWAKAMARU Within Gotham’s sushi-restaurant titans, a state of hushed reverence often pervades. Not so at Hideo Kuribara’s ramshackle subterranean restaurant, where patrons stumble in from Houston Street late in the evening (night-owl ramen is available when the sushi counter shuts down). The affable Kuribara stands over the modest wood counter, a twinkle in his eye, pressing vinegared rice grains so that they barely hold together. Those warm, lo

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Kuruma Zushi

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Kanoyama

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Best ramen

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25 best ramen dishes

TONY breaks down the specs of New York City’s best ramen dishes. From rich tonkotsu to brothless mazemen, here are Gotham’s essential noodle bowls. For years, New Yorkers have sought comfort in the city’s best ramen bowls, lining up at the revered Ippudo or ducking into student favorite Rai Rai Ken on a cold winter night. The popularity of the humble Japanese dish shows no signs of slowing down, with new spots popping up every year, so we checked in at noodle joints all over the city to see which versions were best. Slurp through our list of these standout bowls. You might also like Japanese gastropubs take off in New York City Nouveau Asian: NYC's cutting-edge Asian restaurants 100 best New York restaurants: Japanese restaurants Best sushi restaurants in NYC

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Ippudo NY

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Hide-Chan Ramen

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Best Japanese restaurants

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Best Japanese restaurants

The cuisine of Japan is incredibly diverse, and some of the best New York restaurants offer studied takes on sushi, ramen, izakaya pub grub and more. New York is a hub of serious Japanese food with authentic ramen restaurants, dazzling sushi temples and boisterous izakayas all battling for your chopsticks’ attention. In fact, some of the best New York restaurants are Japanese restaurants—the kind of places that are presided over by skilled sushi and sashimi masters, where pristine seafood is flown in from Japan's Tsujiki market. Whether you're seeking a blow-out omakase or a pitcher of Sapporo and some octopus balls, these are the best Japanese restaurants in New York. RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants 15 East Toqueville co-owner Marco Moreira returned to his aquatic roots—he was trained as a sushi chef—when he opened this solemn temple of Japanese cuisine in 2006. The room, designed by architect Richard Bloch (Masa), feels like a sanctuary, and the food (fittingly) has a near-religious following among raw fish fanatics. Sushi is punitively expensive, but consistently luscious: The scallop is as smooth as chocolate mousse, and almost as sweet. For tuna aficionados, a sampler with six different cuts includes an otoro on par with the city’s best. Kyo Ya The city’s most ambitious Japanese speakeasy is marked only by an open sign, but in-the-know eaters still find their way inside. The food, presented on beautiful handmade plates, is gorgeous: Maitake

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15 East

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Ushiwakamaru

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Sake school

From oenophile-baiting junmai to kimoto for Scotch sluggers, there’s a sake out there for every type of drinker. Go pro with our sake primer. You know if you’re a merlot fan or a champagne sipper, if you’re a sherry devotee or a Scotch aficionado. But do you know junmai from honjozo? Ginjo from nigori? Before you step into another sake bar, get schooled on six different types of the Japanese fermented-rice beverage and find out which variety will tickle your boozing fancy best. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC If you like full-bodied cabs, try a junmaiHeavier and fuller than its delicate sake brethren, the concentrated, acidic junmai grade—pure sake made from rice, koji (starter enzyme) and water—boasts a bold, rich earthiness similar to a robust cabernet sauvignon. If you like Scotch, try a kimoto or yamahaiLove the peaty malt of good Scotch? Brews crafted in the kimoto or yamahai technique—made without adding lactic acid to the yeast, resulting in more wild bacteria—have that smoky, savory funk that single-malt drinkers crave. This variety is sometimes aged in cedar barrels, which can imbue these labor-intensive sakes—the starter mash is hand-churned over a period of at least four weeks—with a Scotch-like peppery finish.If you like dry sherry, try a ginjoThe difference between hearty junmai and the lighter ginjo grade is its polishing rate (in layman’s terms: the amount of rice remaining after the husk has been milled) and, with a 60 percent polishing rate, ginjo

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Restaurants

Japanese ingredients go global

Staples like miso and soy are being used in unexpected ways at New York City restaurants. Long staples at Asian restaurants, miso, soy, kombu and bonito are now popping up on plates at some of New York City’s hottest—and decidedly non-Asian—restaurants. Here’s how trailblazing toques like Wylie Dufresne and Jean-Georges Vongerichten are using the Japanese pantry staples in exciting new ways. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC You might also like NYC’s best sushi restaurants: The top 12 sushi spots in the city TONY trekked all over town checking out the top toro-touting dens in the city, both old-school joints and big-ticket temples. Here are the best of the best. As Sakura Matsuri blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, we’ve got Japan on the mind, namely its most delicious export: sushi. Weeding out the less-than-best competition, these are Gotham’s best sushi restaurants, from no-nonsense sashimi spots nestled in nondescript office buildings to shiny toro-touting palaces helmed by Michelin-starred toques. Sushi fanatics, you’re welcome. RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC div.info-block { margin-bottom: 35px; } div.info-block div.thumbnail { width: 150px; display: inline-block; margin-right: 15px; vertical-align: top; } div.info-block div.info { width: 480px; display: inline-block; } USHIWAKAMARU Within Gotham’s sushi-restaurant titans, a state of hushed reverence often pervades. Not so at Hideo Kuribara’s ramshackle subterranean restaurant,

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Hidden Japanese restaurants

A basement izakaya, an after-hours ramen pop-up and more:: These under-the-radar Japanese restaurants are hidden in not-so-plain sight. BohemianThis modernist spot is ensconced behind East Village butcher shop Japanese Premium Beef. If you want to try the six-course tasting menu, you’ll need to obtain the private reservation phone number from a regular diner. 57 Great Jones St between Bowery and Lafayette St (212-388-1070)SakaguraCross through a nondescript corporate lobby and descend a service staircase to enter this intimate, subterranean sake bar, boasting tasty Japanese small plates and a monster list of more than 200 sakes. 211 E 43rd St between Second and Third Aves (212-953-7253)Ramen SanshiroJust before the clock strikes midnight, midtown Japanese joint Seo ditches the rolls and tangles up traditional shio (salt) and shoyu (soy) ramen until the broth runs out. 249 E 49th St between Second and Third Aves (212-355-7722)Benkei RamenSoho’s Japanophile haunt Ushiwakamaru moonlights as ramen hideaway Benkei, ladling out piping-hot bowls of tonkotsu (pork), shoyu and kaisen (seafood) noodles from midnight until the wee hours. 136 W Houston St between MacDougal and Sullivan Sts (212-228-4181) RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC You might also like NYC’s best sushi restaurants: The top 12 sushi spots in the city TONY trekked all over town checking out the top toro-touting dens in the city, both old-school joints and big-ticket temples. Here are the best of the best.

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Sakagura

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Japanese gastropubs take off in New York City

Casual Far East eateries are having a moment right now. TONY tracks down the best spots around town. The Japanese restaurant scene in New York is flush with options for sushi and ramen. But recently a new set of restaurants—including Japanese gastropubs, izakaya and casual canteens—have debuted, broadening the options for Japanese dining. Check out our favorite of the bunch. Ootoya Japanophiles rejoiced last April when a 62-seat branch of the popular Tokyo chain—which counts more than 300 locations in the homeland—debuted in Chelsea. The scene: Ootoya may be the Japanese equivalent of the Cheesecake Factory, but you wouldn’t know it from the inviting modernist digs at its first stateside outpost. The cool, lofty space—handsomely appointed with two blond-wood counters, dark beams and serene paintings in neutral tones—draws a crowd of expats and neighborhood locals, who wait up to an hour for a casual meal. Sit at the curved back bar with a view of the yakitori station and recessed kitchen, or nab one of the tables on the balcony overlooking the buzzing back room. The booze: The spot is a teishoku—an eatery specializing in homestyle composed meals—not an izakaya, but it still wields a sake list of 27 different selections ($7.50–$22 per cup). Breweries range from the widely available Dassai to the lesser-known Minowanon.The grub: The sprawling menu features sushi, noodles and Japanese comfort-food dishes that range from the classic (a meaty slab of pork loin katsu with a c

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Yopparai

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Best sushi restaurants in NYC (2012)

New York's finest Japanese spots for sashimi, sushi and other raw fish delicacies. New York has long been home to the country's top sushi restaurants, with pristine seafood specimens flown in directly from Japan's Tsujiki market and skilled masters cutting fish for omakase blow-outs. Whether you're seeking out purist presentations or wildly creative rolls, we've scoped out the city's best Japanese joints. Take your pick of immaculate old-school temples, bare-bones hideaways and new downtown gems for your next sushi meal. 15 East Toqueville co-owner Marco Moreira has returned to his aquatic roots—he was trained as a sushi chef—in the restaurant’s former space. Architect Richard Bloch (Masa) has muted the colors and created a distinct sushi bar and dining room, turning what felt like a country inn into a solemn temple of Japanese cuisine. Sushi is very expensive (ten pieces of nigiri for $55, à la carte more punitive still), but consistently luscious: The scallop is as smooth as chocolate mousse, and almost as sweet. For tuna aficionados, a $75 sampler with six different cuts includes an otoro on par with the city’s best. Choose the raw offerings over the cooked (they still haven’t found their sea legs). Masa When world-renowned sushi chef Masa Takayama arrived in New York, he came offering the most expensive dining experience in the city’s history: $300 per person for his cheapest tasting menu, not including tax, wine or sake, or the mandatory 20 percent gratuity. To be clear

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20 essential ramen dishes (2011)

TONY breaks down the specs of some of the city's best steaming bowls. You might also like Japanese gastropubs take off in New York City Nouveau Asian: NYC's cutting-edge Asian restaurants 100 best New York restaurants: Japanese restaurants Best sushi restaurants in NYC

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Best all-you-can eat deals (2010)

They're not just for Vegas anymore. Hill CountryUnlimited Texas BBQ, Mon 5--10pm: $25We love Hill Country on a normal night, so imagine our gluttonous delight at the chance to fill up on endless 'cue. Tell your server you want the deal, and you'll get a wristband that signifies you're ready to gorge. Included in the special are smoked brisket, gargantuan pork ribs, dripping barbecued chicken and as many sides as you want (mac and cheese, red chili and baked beans cost an extra $2, but the gratis chipotle deviled eggs, bourbon-sweet potato mash and white-corn pudding suited us just fine). Unlike the regular Hill Country self-serve setup, the waiter brings the food to you. Caveat emptor: To cash in on this sweet deal, everyone at the table has to be in on it. 30 W 26th St between Sixth Ave and Broadway (212-255-4544). CabritoEndless tacos, Dos Equis beer and a movie, Mon 9pm until the credits roll: $25Get your fill of some the most authentic tacos in the city while watching a movie (this week it's Office Space), sipping $5 margaritas and gratis Dos Equis beer at this Mexican roadhouse's weekly gorgefest. Once the show begins, any of the seven tacos from Cabrito's regular menu are fair game—we dug into tortillas stuffed with spicy tongue and house-made chorizo. The orders come out hot, fast and, to ensure freshness, only two pairs of tacos at a time. We recommend arriving early enough to grab a seat at the bar for the best sight lines. 50 Carmine St between Bedford a

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Restaurants

Best ramen (2010)

Establishments in our top-ten lists are listed in alphabetical order. Got a favorite spot that you think is missing? Let us know in the comments. Ippudo NYThis sleek outpost of a Japanese ramen chain is packed mostly with Nippon natives who queue up for a taste of "Ramen King" Shigemi Kawahara's tonkotsu—a pork-based broth. The house special, Akamaru Modern, is a smooth, buttery soup topped with scallions, cabbage, a slice of roasted pork and pleasantly elastic noodles. Avoid nonsoup dishes, like the oily fried-chicken nuggets coated in a sweet batter. Long live the Ramen King—just don't ask him to move beyond his specialty. 65 Fourth Ave between 9th and 10th Sts (212-388-0088) Kambi Ramen HouseThough New York's ramen scene is tending toward specialization, this noodle-and-soup spot (an offshoot of nearby Minca) sticks to a diverse menu. Kambi's advantage is its flexibility: Vegetarians can enjoy a flesh-free bowl; carnivorous diners at the blond-wood bar are welcome to slurp chewy noodles in a kimchi broth; and cold sufferers can detox with chicken soup. The pork broth—a stock made from roasted bones and delivered with springy wheat noodles and sliced pork—may not be as complex as Ippudo's, but it's still a satisfying meal. 351 E 14th St between First and Second Aves (212-228-1366, newyorkramen.com) Menchanko Tei The hakata ramen is a transporting dish of tender noodles—like udon but much thinner—topped with pork slices, black mushrooms and shredded red ginger, a

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Restaurants

Best sushi restaurants (2009)

The city's temples to Japanese cuisine. Sasabune NYThe only menu you'll find here is for drinks. The fish prepared at this tiny outpost of a popular L.A. sushi spot is governed entirely by chef Kenji Takahashi's whim. There's nothing to fear (except maybe the wasabi—they use the much spicier real stuff): Sasabune's omakase is culled from Takahashi's daily New Fulton Fish Market finds. He and his team dole out raw numbers, from favorites like salmon and yellowtail to more exotic sea creatures, including bonito in a spicy-sweet homemade soy sauce and a black cod in an eel sauce you'll want mop up with your fingers. 401 E 73rd St at First Ave (212-249-8583). Average omakase: $65. Blue Ribbon SushiThe most erratic eatery in the Blue Ribbon stable interprets the restaurant group's greatest hits through a Japanese prism. The epic menu has its strong points. Sushi czar Toshi Ueki offers a half-dozen sunomono (like a Japanese ceviche), including such delicacies as blue crab, jellyfish and octopus; fans of Soho's Blue Ribbon sushi will also approve of the premium raw fish. Other dishes, like the fried chicken and the "Chocolate Bruno" (a green tea-enhanced mousse cake), redeem the iffy ones (just say no to the electric-pink shumai). 6 Columbus Hotel, 6 Columbus Circle at 58th St (212-397-0404). Average main course: $27. Sushi AzabuThis stealthy sushi shrine—tucked away in the basement of Greenwich Grill—attracts solo diners who happily hobnob with the talkative chefs while

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Comments

1 comments
bryan F
bryan F

That is a cool motif to serve the sushi on wood plates.  I wonder if the wood is just for cosmetic purposes or if it enhances the sushi taste.  If a plate could enhance the experience, that would be a groundbreaking strategy to get people to love your food dishes.  

http://www.tanpopojapaneserestaurant.com