In such an in-the-know city, it’s hard to keep a secret for long, yet these semisecret Japanese joints have managed to do just that. We’ve uncovered New York’s on-the-down-low ramen dens and izakaya, hidden behind a butcher shop, tucked in the basement of an office building and popping up after-hours at a midtown restaurant.
RECOMMENDED: Best Japanese food in NYC
This 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)
Cross 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)
Just 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)
Soho’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)