Only nine people can sit at the downstairs counter, and another handful at two tables in the upstairs tatami room. Chef Isamu Soumi’s menu is a winning combination of traditional fare from the Niigata prefecture, north of Tokyo, and his own flights of fancy. The prix-fixe dinner changes roughly every two weeks. You might poke your chopsticks into a bowl of oshitashi (steamed spinach), then nibble on fried sardines wrapped around smooth tofu and paired with sweet pickled-plum sauce. Fish preparations, such as steamed tilefish topped with creamy wasabi, are phenomenal. Tiny as it is, Toraya draws a steady clientele of Japanese professionals.
300 E 52nd St
|Cross street:||between First and Second Aves|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Sat 6–10:30pm|
|Transport:||Subway: E to Lexington Ave–53rd St; 6 to 51st St|
|Price:||$45–$50. AmEx, DC, MC, V|