Japanese Comfort Food in NYC
Where to find Japanese comfort food in NYC? Luckily, these three spots remind me that I can get a taste of Japan here. 🙂
It was raining heavily the first time I snuck into Café Hanamizuki for a light dinner. I opted for the $9.50 omusubi plate, which comes with two decent-sized rice balls, miso-soup (4 varieties to choose from), today’s Sozai-Appetizer, and Japanese pickles. Normally, buying the omusubi separately costs about $3 each. For my omusubi plate, I had the Sukiyaki (Suki-Yaki-beef, burdock root, konjac and scallions) and Unagi (Unagi-eel, white sesame, pickled sansho-pepper and bamboo leaf). Vegetarian options are also available. To my dismay, my first pick, Hawaiian, was all sold out!
Next time, I made sure to come early. After hitting the gym, I headed over to Hanamizuki to fulfill my craving for rice balls. Luckily, Hawaiian was still in during lunch hours. I took home four of those to go (to split with my hubbie).
I washed down my satisfying meal with a cup of La Colombe coffee.
The restaurant is elegantly decorated with light colors and has an airy earthiness.
I find that the minimalist, nature-immersed decor introduces an element of calm: perfect escape for the busy New Yorker!
The food is healthy and just the right portion size. The word “umami” comes to mind. Umami can be translated as “pleasant savory taste,” but it’s not an easily identifiable flavor that can be pinpointed in English.
Hi-Collar channels the Japanese kissatens (Western-inspired Japanese coffee shop, often serving food). It moonlights as a fancy coffee bar by day and a sake bar by night. The establishment offers Pour-Over, AeroPress and Siphon coffee. Prices are affordable, starting at $3.80 for a very good Pour-Over.
J and I each had a dish of Omurice (fluffy omelet with tomato sauce and seasoned pork rice), which was $9 if you ordered a drink with it, $11 without.
We paired that with a cup of Pour-Over – mine, the Tokyo Blend (Porto Rico Co.), with a smoky and nutty quality; hers – the Ethiopian, with sprightly floral notes. The Pour-Over method draws out the beans’ different components, for a balanced, smooth cup.
Our barista was hard at work. Since we arrived between 2 and 2:30pm, J and I had Hi-Collar all to ourselves for a good half hour. I felt like we were VIP guests! Of course, that couldn’t last forever – not with the quality goods and service here.
Other tasty-looking menu items include the Katsu Sandwich and Kissaten-style Daily Pasta. Tea, such as Chai, Apricot and Rooibos, is another option. The all-natural and house-made Fruit Enzyme with Soda sounds intriguing…
Check out the siphon coffee makers!
I was amused by the beaded fringe curtains, which offered a bit of privacy for the bathroom area.
Next time, I’m going for the Cold Brew Mizudashi Iced Coffee (strong, deep flavor without the bitterness and acidity). I’m saving it for a scorcher. These days, temperatures have risen to the 80s and 90s, with high humidity levels. Keep cool and drink Hi-Collar!
Izakaya MEW is smartly decorated and dimly lit, small and intimate.
The restaurant’s logo is cleverly composed of the letter “E” in various rotations and scale. Somehow the font reminded me of the cover of MW, a compelling graphic novel by Osamu Tezuka.
MEW is located in a basement. I almost passed it walking down the street and did a double take. At the waiting area, I saw a minimalist Haruki Murakami poster of his book, Kafka on the Shore.
I ordered the Chicken Cutlet Katsudon, which was among the best I’ve eaten in NYC, and I’ve had quite a few. The fresh, moist chicken was crunchy just on the outside. They didn’t overdo the vinegar in the rice either.
My friend A had a craving for ramen and eagerly ordered the Miso Ramen.
We decided to share a sushi roll and went for the MEW Special Roll (Spicy Tuna with Avocado Wrapped with Salmon). We were both quickly fans of this one!
The Daily Specials Menu is worth a look.
To my great delight, MEW hosts free live jazz music every Sunday night, starting at 6:30pm. I’ll certainly be back! Any jazz lovers care to come with? 😉
143 W 29th St (between 7th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10001
Neighborhood: Chelsea, Midtown West
214 E 10th St (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhood: East Village
53 W 35th St (between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10001
Neighborhood: Midtown West