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Best Japanese Restaurants Midtown, NYC

Best Japanese Restaurants Midtown, NYC

Japanese comfort food is so much more than Sushi, as good as that is. The more that you explore the menus at these Midtown Japanese restaurants, the more you will be rewarded.

Ootoya - Midtown

There's never been a better time to make a reservation at this beautiful and Zen restaurant that features a menu of Japanese comfort food classics.

Join in the fun and show the folks at Ootoya some love as they are celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. The first Ootoya restaurant opened in Japan back in 1958 and they have been going strong ever since.

Ootoya is fast becoming one of the most popular Japanese restaurants in New York. In honor of their 60th anniversary, the management has lined up some great surprise pop-up events, and giveaways.

They will also be bringing back some of their customer's all-time favorite dishes, as voted for on Ootoya's Facebook page.

Located in the Times Square neighborhood, Ootoya is close to the Theater District and attractions such as Bryant Park. Make lunch or dinner at Ootoya the centerpiece of a day spent falling in love again with your city.

The restaurant's interior, designed by Shigeki Yoshimoto, delivers a calm and serene atmosphere with a touch of casual sophistication.

This warm and modern space works for both a first date (or, hopefully, a second and third) and a family night out.

The reception area is graced by a quaint painting that depicts a Japanese family enjoying a traditional meal together. It's got kind of an Asian Norman Rockwell-type feel.

Artist Sayaka Maeda's artwork sums up what Ootoya is all about; a very warm and gracious place where you can re-connect with friends and family over delicious food.

Having just the right presentation means a great deal to the chefs and owners at Ootoya.

Yes, the quality of the food is always going to be the primary focus of the kitchen. That goes without saying.

However, we do live in an Instagram age where one great photo of a particular dish can literally transform the fortunes of a restaurant.

Ootoya's designers take the tableware that your food is served on very seriously. After all, that's the canvas upon which the chefs display their art.

The restaurant has curated an impressive collection of lacquerware and ceramics that emphasize the colors of the sushi, veggies, fruits and meats that you will be dining on.

Ootoya's chefs offer Teishoku, a meal style that is quite the rage in Japan but is not as common here.

Teishoku is a homage to Mom's home cooking, pure and simple. It consists of traditional dishes that generations of Japanese families enjoy bonding over. These balanced meals are prepared with farm fresh ingredients and made from scratch.

An actual Japanese mom may not be in Ootoya's kitchen, but your dinner will still be made with a lot of love.

The folks here are excited about introducing this Asian comfort food concept to New York's families and foodies and, one day, making Teishoku as popular as Sushi, Sashimi and tempura.

Think of Teishoku as akin to Sunday dinner in a typical American household.

 

ootoya ny

 

You will absolutely savor dishes like Katsu Toji, which is a silky textured breaded and fried pork loin cutlet with onions. It's topped with a layer of egg custard in a soy sauce-infused broth. Mere words cannot do this dish justice.

Chicken and shredded cabbage over rice are slathered with Tonkatsu sauce in Ootoya's signature Tori Sauce Ju platter.

One of the most popular menu items is the grilled Washu Beef that is marinated in Ootoya's proprietary rice Koji sauce.

All of these Japanese comfort food classics are served with rice, miso soup and house-made pickles.

It's time to gather up your loved ones and do dinner, family-style, at Ootoya.

Location and Hours

141 West 41st Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 704-0833
www.ootoya.us.com

Hours
Monday to Sunday 11;30 AM to 10:30 PM

Sakagura - Midtown

To say that this charming and upscale Japanese restaurant is a little off the beaten path would be an understatement. But, that's really part of the overall "cool" factor here.

Sakagura is hidden away in the basement level of a rather nondescript office building that's like dozens of others in the Mid-Town Manhattan business district. Once you are directed to the entrance, you might be forgiven for thinking " What did I get myself into?"

But, when you finally enter the restaurant, after descending down a flight of stairs, prepare to be dazzled!

From the glowing, sultry ambiance to the amazing food that appears on your plate, this is a unique dining experience that's meant to be savored and remembered long after you have finished your meal.

Established in 1996, Sakagura has been a pioneer in introducing spirit loving New Yorkers to the tantalizing but sometimes mystifying world of sake.

A time-honored favorite of visiting business executives and Japanese tourists in the know, Sakagura has a carefully curated collection of more than 200 Sake varieties and labels, an authentic tapas-style menu of Japanese dishes as well as home-made desserts.

From time to time, the restaurant also hosts pop-up sake tastings and workshops featuring various Japanese craft breweries and sake masters. You won't want to miss out on these delicious and entertaining evenings so be sure to check the restaurant's website for further details.

The great news is that now you can indulge in Sakagura's delicious food, even if your busy day doesn't allow you to come in for lunch or dinner.

Local office workers are flocking to Kiosku on their lunch hour in order to partake of the delicacies that the chefs here have to offer.

Situated in the back lobby of the office building that Sakagura calls home, Kiosku offers Bento Boxes to go. This is a healthy and tasty alternative to the usual fast food or boring salad that is your lunchtime staple.

When dining at Sakagura, plan your time here around an appetizer or Shukow as they are called in Japan, a delectable entree and a glass of sake or a sake-based cocktail. relish the moment, put aside the cares of your day and do not be in any hurry to leave.

You may choose from delights such as pickled plums, spicy codfish roe and chopped shrimp in a sake and Bonito liver marinade to start your meal.

The Gomoku Kin Pira, a plate comprised of Julienned carrots, lotus, Hijiki seaweed Burdock roots and succulent slices of beef in sesame oil, is also quite delicious.

The stewed and steamed portion of the menu contains a multitude of dishes that you will relish every bite of.

Yuba Shumai consists of minced beef and pork dumplings that are wrapped inside a Yuba and dressed in soy sauce.

Sakagura's signature dish and one that they do so very well is Buta Kakuni, which is tender, braised pork belly that is seasoned to perfection.

Get your grill on with dishes like Jidori Shioyaki, a grilled, organic free-range chicken that is seasoned with sea salt, chili pepper and Yuzu citrus pepper.

The Dashimaki Tamago, a Japanese style egg omelet, is different from any omelet you've ever had. Try it for a light but eminently satisfying lunch.

Sakagura has several tempting selections From The Sea. But the Unisoba is the dish that has every customer's name on it.

This hearty dish consists of house-made buckwheat noodles topped with a nice portion of sea urchin. You also get a side of sea urchin soup.

Be aware, though, that this chef's special is made each day in limited quantities. Ask your server if they have any left, just as soon as you sit down.

As far as having a pre-dinner drink or nightcap goes, you'll never run out of thirst-quenching options at the bar here.

One of the boutique sakes that Sakagura proudly serves is Daiginjo, which is the highest grade of sake available.

What's so special about this brand? It's all in the preparation. The outer layer of the sake rice is polished down to 50% or less of its' original weight and is then fermented at low temperatures.

The end result is that Daiginjo sake has a well-balanced and fruity aroma, yet also has a rich body and very pleasant after-taste.

This brings us to the question that most customers who are new to sake ask their server when ordering drinks; " How is sake brewed differently from wine and beer ?"

The answer is simpler than you might think. Sake goes through parallel fermentation as opposed to the linear wine and beer fermentation process. In layman's terms, that means that the starch to sugar and sugar to alcohol fermentation processes occur simultaneously.

Another high-end sake that is available by the glass, carafe or bottle is Tau-Sake.

Traditionally, sake was transported from city to city and around villages, in wooden barrels called Taru.

Once glass bottling was introduced as a more efficient means of selling and transporting sake, wooden barrel stored sake began to be phased out. But, Japan's wealthy and elite classes like the distinctive wood aroma and spicy taste that sugi cedar gave sake. Taru-Sake underwent quite a revival and is now a preferred choice among those who love sake in all of its' different forms.

The Snow Peach is a wonderfully aromatic cocktail that is made with Kamoizumi Nigori sake, Momo No sake and ginger ale.

Worthy of its' refreshing and fruity name, the Very Berry's ingredients are fresh cranberry juice, cider, a hint of red maple and Ichigo Nigiri sake.

Location and Hours

211 East 43rd Street,#B1
New York, NY 10017
(212) 953-7253
www.sakagura.com

Hours

Monday to Thursday 11:30 AM to 11:15 PM
Friday                     11:30 AM to 12:15 PM
Saturday                 6 PM to 12:15 PM
Sunday                   6 PM to 10:15 PM

Ajisai - Midtown

If you've never tried Sushi or Japanese cuisine before and are in an adventurous frame of mind, give Ajisai a shot and you will walk out hooked on their food!

With a diverse menu of Asian fusion food at your fingertips, culinary delights from all over the Pacific are at your beck and call.

You'll feel completely at ease here. It is by no means large, but space is comfortable and emits a very warm energy.

Towards the back of the restaurant is a gorgeous Sushi counter with a captivating ocean blue finish and bright red lighting fixtures overhead.

 

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The ambiance is date night with intimate seating. A huge positive note is that you can actually have a conversation with your partner here. there is no loud, obtrusive music blaring in the background.

Teriyaki and Ramen are the buzzwords here. These well-loved Japanese dishes are the undoubted stars of the show.

All teriyaki dinners come with rice and soup or salad. Teriyaki choices include chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon, Tofu and vegetable.

The most mouth-watering of all the Ramen noodle options on the menu is definitely the Tonkatsu Bowl which features a mound of noodles topped with pork, a fish cake, Nori, scallions and red pickled ginger.

Just as satisfying is Ajisai's version of Pad Thai. This filling dish consists of Thai-style fried noodles, sauteed with an egg, bean sprouts, peanuts and both shrimp and chicken. The broth that is created by the juices from the chicken and seafood coming together is outrageous.

With your wallet and convenience in mind, Ajisai has come up with a very affordable $16 Bento Box lunch.

Box A is comprised of Three pieces of Tuna Sashimi, a trio of tuna sushi and one Alaska roll.

Box B gives hungry patrons three pieces of both salmon sashimi and sushi as well as one eel avocado roll.

Each Bento Box also contains a portion of seaweed salad a cup of Miso soup and rice.

You and your date can wash it all down with a glass of plum or honey plum wine or a bottle of Sake.

They've also got a variety of imported Japanese beer on hand including Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban as well as White Zinfandel and Merlot.

In the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood there's not a lot of options if you're in the mood for Asian food, Ajisai just so happens to be one of the area's best restaurants, no matter what kind of cuisine you are talking about.

Location and Hours

615 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
(212) 757-2688
www.ajisainy.com

Hours

Monday to Saturday 11:30 AM to 12 AM
Sunday                   12 PM to 11:30 PM

Yakitori Totto - Midtown

Blending traditional rustic Japanese decor accents with a decidedly hip, contemporary feel, Yakitori Totto is a meat-forward restaurant that is all about the grill.

In the Japanese language, Yakitori is loosely translated to grilled chicken. need we say more. Oh, you're getting hungry now, aren't you?

A dish that is served in most Japanese "Izakaya" cafes, due to its' ease of preparation, Yakitori is all about the skewer.

The process involves grilling small chunks of meat, primarily but not limited to chicken, on specially designed skewers called Kushi.

The meat is seasoned with Yakitori Totto's incredible Tare sauce which includes a blend of five top-secret ingredients that are imported from Japan, as well as Himalayan Pink salt.

Thrown in a pinch of this and a dash of that and you end up with one unforgettable sauce.

Since 2003, Yakitori Totto has been a mainstay on the New York Asian dining scene. They take great care of the quality of every ingredient. All of their chickens are raised locally on a farm in upstate New York.

A favorite of celebrities such as Anderson Cooper, Yakitori Totto has also attracted acclaim from food critics and everyday people who, when they find something that they like, make it a habit to return again and again, trying out new variations of their go-to dish.

None other than the late, great TV personality and foodie, Anthony Bourdain had this to say about their fabulously rendered chicken..." I totally recommend the skin. It's crunchy and delicious".

Yes, you can actually order up different parts of the chicken, from the thigh, breast, the heart and gizzards to just the skin.

If you're a confirmed vegetarian, you may have just decided to stop reading right about now. Well, the good tidings are that, in addition to skewers filled with chicken, pork and beef, there are several veggie options available including a skewer filled with juicy roasted cherry tomatoes, eggplant with Miso paste and a skewer decorated with luscious Shiitake mushrooms.

Spotlessly clean, Yakitori Totto is located on the second floor of a small building, as are most similar cafes in Tokyo and other urban centers in Japan.

Besides the various cuts of chicken on a skewer, you may also order their luscious chicken meatballs. they are so good, these meatballs will give both Nonna's Italian meatballs and Greek-style meatballs with Mediterranean herbs a run for their money.

Totto originals include Japanese green peppers that are stuffed with chicken and asparagus wrapped with bacon. You can also chow down on a crab shumai skewer.

Fear not, though, their range of dishes goes far beyond what can be fitted onto a skewer.

A very popular appetizer is the grilled rice balls with a soy dipping sauce.

One dish that you have to make time to try is the Jidori Donabe Gohan. Cooked inside of an earthenware pot, the rice is perfectly textured and the chicken, fork-tender.

Be sure that you order an appetizer because this stew-like feast is made from scratch and takes fifty minutes to prepare. But it is so worth the wait.

The restaurant has a surprisingly extensive dessert menu, so leave a bit of room in your tummy so that you will be able to, at least, split a dessert with your honey.

You can't ask for anything better on a steaming NYC day than to finish your meal with their Iced Banana dessert. A whole frozen banana is served with coconut milk, tapioca and mint for a refreshing sensation that never fails to please.

Vanilla ice cream, sweet red beans, mochi and green tea are the ingredients that create magic in your mouth with the Green Tea Affogato.

You will also enjoy the scrumptious rice cake with green tea ice cream and kinako powder.

Location and Hours

251 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 245-4555
www.tottonyc.com

Hours

Monday to Thursday  11:30 AM to 12 AM

Friday                       11:30 AM to 1 AM

Saturday                   5:30 PM to 1 AM

Sunday                     5:30 PM to 11 PM

Shinbashi - Midtown

On any given day the beautiful but minimalist dining room at Shinbashi is filled with the city's movers and shakers enjoying a power lunch of Sushi or Chicken Teriyaki, together with a bottle or two of the finest sake available.

These corporate CEO's can afford to spend their money anywhere. The fact that Shinbashi has developed such a loyal clientele over the years is a tribute to the quality of food being served here as well as the pristine atmosphere and courteous, professional service.

But, you don't have to be rich and powerful to appreciate the fact that you won't have to wait forever for your order to be brought to the table. Even though everything is cooked to order, service is fast and efficient. Hey, we've all got busy schedules, even if we don't have a Limousine or Lincoln Town Car waiting to whisk us to our next appointment.

Now in its' third generation of family ownership, Shinbashi was founded in 1974 by Fumiko Hosoda.

A confirmed foodie way before the term became part of our everyday vocabulary, Fumiko envisioned her restaurant as a place where New Yorker's could enjoy traditional Japanese dishes, done in an elevated manner.

The new, younger generation of ownership have dialed Fumiko's extraordinary culinary vision up to its' highest level, offering contemporary interpretations of time-honored Japanese cuisine. In Shinbashi's kitchen, change is good!

Fumiko Hosoda put a great deal of thought into things when it came time to name her restaurant.

In Japanese, Shinbashi means New Bridge. Fumiko's restaurant not only serves as a bridge between the East and West but old and new as well.

With a recently remodeled dining room and bar and lounge area, Shinbashi looks better than ever!

There is nothing more satisfying on a cold Winter's night than digging into a steaming Hot Pot, filled with meat and veggies. And the kitchen here does Hot Pot dining like nobody else. Choose from the divine Shabu Shabu with rib-eye beef or Sukiyaki, a dish that features both white and dark meat chicken.

The menu offers a wide and delectable assortment of Chef's Specials including grilled whole squid in a special sauce, shrimp and vegetable tempura over rice and broiled eggplant topped with Dengaku Miso.

 

shinbashi

 

The showstopper at Shinbashi, though, is the superb Sushi Pizza. This is one awesome pizza with a generous assortment of Sashimi over flat rice, spicy mayo, sprouts and eel sauce.

Dessert time is a fun time here! Sweet endings can't just taste good, they have to be eye-popping, too.

One such dessert that fits the wow factor bill is the Anmitsu jelly which is layered with colorful mixed fruits and red bean paste.

Go for the Japanese style Tiramisu if you're in the mood to try something out of the box. Smooth and super creamy, it's made with Mascarpone, Espresso, fresh whipped cream, cocoa and green tea powder.

Get your phones ready for when you order the one of a kind Sasadango. You'll want to capture this delicious dish of mochi ice cream and red beans, wrapped in bamboo leaves, for posterity.

If you happen to count yourself among the city's legion of home cooks, then you'll want to pay a visit to Shinashi 49, a small but cute shop that is connected to the restaurant. There's also a separate entrance on 48th Street.

The store sells everything from imported rice and other cooking ingredients and seasonings to Japanese snacks and candy.

Want to try your hand at replicating your favorite dish at Shinbashi in your apartment kitchen? Then take a little time out of your day and explore everything that this well-stocked store has to offer.

Shinbashi 49 is famous throughout the city for having row upon row of every kind of sake imaginable. Bring home a bottle for the next time you have friends over.

Enjoy a sake tasting or a complimentary green tea while you browse the aisles.

In so many delicious ways, Shinbashi truly is your one-stop shop for everything Japanese.

Location and Hours

7 East 48th Street

New York, NY 10017

(212) 813-1009

www.shinbashinyc.com

Hours

Monday to Friday   11:30 AM to 10 PM

Saturday               5 PM to 9:30 PM

Sunday                 Closed

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