Izakayas...

okinawa
Most Americans have heard of Okinawa. There's been an American military base on the main island since the end of World War II. However, Okinawa as part of Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries Okinawa was its own country, a cluster of hundreds of islands off the southern coast of Japan, stretching to within a few kilometers of the island nation of Taiwan. A rich culture with its on language, monarchy, economy, and culture. It was not and even today is not "Japanese". As a result of this long history of independence Okinawa has its own food & drink traditions. And that's what we're really interested in here at Kampai! Read More...

Village Yokocho
As you climb the stairs you hear the buzz of happy diners. More than likely before you reach the top of the stairs you're met with a line of waiting customers, red Kirin lanterns hanging overhead. Squeeze to the top and you enter the large multi-roomed dining hall of Village Yokocho. Read More...

sunchan
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...

My first izakaya
This story isn't going to be entirely true. “My first izakaya” was not my first izakaya. The trouble was the first time I went to an izakaya, in 2003, I didn't know I was in an izakaya. Several more years would pass before I realized what exactly this style of dining was – what it meant to me – and why it felt like something completely different. Read More...

Menchanko Tei
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
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...

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