Izakaya Reviews...

There's something about some izakayas that make you fee like you're sitting in someone's home. Perhaps no place in New York has a stronger sensation of that than Sun-Chan. When you sit at the yakitori bar you're in the kitchen being entertained by the co-owner "obasan" (grandmother) as she grills chicken, fish, onigiri (rice balls), and just anything else she pleases on her single small grill. She prepares the food by feel - touching the various meets with her bare fingers to test their texture and warmth. Read More...

There are some restaurants that are destinations and others that are comfortable neighborhood joints where you feel like a local even if you're not. Menchanko-Tei 55 falls into the latter category. It's a narrow izakaya in a nondescript area of Midtown Manhattan. The appeal is that it is situated in a relative food desert for good Japanese, several blocks away from any other restaurant of note with the exception of Katsu Hana (upstairs from Menchankto-Tei). The varnished wood walls give the place a warm feeling with its semi-open kitchen along one side. Read More...

Uminoie (Umi No Ie - "um-ee-no-ee-ay") is one of my favorite izakayas in the city for the simple fact that it's hard to find, easy to miss, small, relaxed, and feels like home. Like most izakayas, it's situated on a street rather than an avenue. I'm guessing this is because it keeps the rents down since customers tend to linger for a long time. What makes Uminoie special is that there is almost no signage. I had to go here 4 or 5 times before I knew where on the block it was. I've walked past it more than once while looking for it. For the longest time I thought it was on 5th Street (it's on 3rd). Read More...

Sake Bar Decibel claims to be the first sake bar in NYC, founded in 1993. But that's not what should draw you to Decibel. A simple wooden sign marks the exterior. An obscure (if you don't know why its there) illuminated "On Air" sign beckons you to a staircase leading to a basement on a side street in the East Village. Steps from 2nd Avenue, this Japanese speakeasy is easy to miss. You step into a small bar area and are transported into Tokyo's Golden Gai district, except not. The small bar (6-8 stools?) is much better equipped than anything you'll find in Golden Gai. A row of sake bottles beckons you to imbibe. A closer look also reveals shochu, Japanese whiskey, and other drinks. An even closer look... Read More...

Izakaya Ten may be the perfect combination of food, drink, and atmosphere in New York City. The izakaya vibe is as lively as anywhere. Read More...

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