44. Azusa of JapanPosted: May 24, 2012
On my last night in New York City, I was determined to find a (inexpensive…) Japanese restaurant! I knew I had to swing back by The Roosevelt before heading out to see Phantom of the Opera, so I decided to wander the surrounding blocks. It’s New York! You can find almost any type of cuisine if you walk a bit. Sure enough, about a block away was a hidden, hole-in-the-wall sort of restaurant called Azusa of Japan.
When I first saw the sign outside, I couldn’t tell if it was a bar or a restaurant. Thankfully, they had their menu posted outside. Seeing it was decently priced and had a wide selection of sushi, sashimi and hot dishes, I knew I’d found the perfect place. I entered and was greeted with a happy 『いらっしゃいませ！』from the woman behind the bar. The only customer I could see was a man in the bar. I wondered if they had just opened for dinner. Another woman came out from behind a counter, asking if I’d like to sit at the bar or a table. Choosing a table, I was told to go upstairs. Upstairs and through the noren curtain, I could hear traditional Japanese music playing softly in the background as a waitress dressed in a yukata and geta seated me. All the other waitresses were also dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. Hearing them chitchat back and forth in Japanese made me smile! They also used an intercom to communicate with the woman at the desk downstairs.
Everything on the menu looked delicious! Outside, I had seen an item called Unadon (short for Unagi and donburi, which translates to “eel bowl”), which is a bowl of steamed rice, veggies, and cooked eel on top. It looks something like this.
When I got inside, however, I discovered that wasn’t something they served for dinner. Alas! Instead, I ordered かつどん／katsudon, which is deep fried pork.
It was displayed beautifully! Being a little vegetable-deprived for most of the week, I basically inhaled the little salad. This meal also came with steaming hot miso soup, but I didn’t get a photo of it. I would say this is definitely a meal you could share with a friend, seeing as I took some leftover pork and rice back to the hotel.
Finishing off the meal with some Oolong tea, I enjoyed every bite! With delicious food and friendly, quick service, I would highly recommend it to anyone in the Manhattan area or to anyone visiting soon.