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)
Barcey’s might look like just another Brooklyn cafe, but one look at the menu reveals more than the typical pastries and lattes. Sure, you’ve got all the usual breakfast suspects, like yogurt parfaits, smoothies, bagels and sandwiches, but there’s also much more than that. Barcey’s menu runs the gamut from chicken and waffles to ramen with pork belly to crab banh mi. The options largely follow a New American theme, with Filipino and Asian fusion influences. If you’re in the mood for something a little stronger than coffee, order a cold beer or glass of wine. With free Wifi and plenty of outlets, it’s also a convenient spot to hole up to get some work done or squeeze in some study time.
Venue says: “Delicious Filipino inspired dinner! Try our sizzling sisig with egg and San Miguel beer tonight.”