Something I'd like to stress before launching into this day guide is that I don't know very much about New York. Sure, I've visited Manhattan and Brooklyn several times, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of all of the wonderful places in the area.
So take this entry with a grain of salt. There are still so many places I'd love to go to that I haven't been to yet so by no means is this a definitive guide.
Breakfast + Brunch
Whether you've come in from a red eye or just want to grab something small in the morning, there are a few places you could swing by. Starting from bottom to top, Takahachi Bakery is located in Tribeca. While most people who've heard of the bakery know them for their matcha crepe - a good choice for people on the go - they also sell other goodies like cookies and sandwiches.
Next up is Davelle, a small shop the barely fits 4 people at the bar and 8 people at tables. They're best known for their Insta-famous shokupan but also for their long waits on the weekends. I stopped by at around 10 am on a Friday morning and was able to snag a seat at the bar. But apparently that's very lucky. I only got to try their Berry and Cream Cheese toast - which was quite good - but their other toasts and non-toast dishes also looked and smelled great.
For whatever reason, lunch generally becomes brunch or a business meeting in Manhattan, so I don't get to venture out as much for this meal.
I will say that of what I did get to try, Soba-ya was a personal favorite. The ambiance felt like an upscale soba restaurant that I might frequent back in Japan.
If you don't have much time for lunch, you can also grab a delicious beef stew or sandwich to go from Patisserie Fouet as well as dessert which you absolutely must not pass on.
Dinner is usually THE most exciting meal of the day whenever I'm in Manhattan. There are too many places I haven't been to, so expect this section to continuously get updated.
Kajitsu is a one-Michelin starred restaurant dedicated to shojin ryori - essentially Buddhist cuisine. What makes shojin ryori different from vegan cuisine is that strong flavors like garlic and onions are not utilized, so the dishes tend to be more mild tasting, in that the natural, raw flavors of vegetables and other ingredients shine. The menu changes monthly, so even if I praise a dish from my visit, it's likely that you won't get to try it. This constant changing of the menu is in line with the essential Buddhist doctrine of impermanence. In fact, in the spirit of this doctrine, this restaurant will be voluntarily shutting down in September 2022 - so you should try to get a reservation before it's gone forever!
Next up is Llama San, tucked away in Greenwich. It's incredibly easy to miss as there's no signage outside. But once you find the restaurant, by the beautiful interior of the restaurant - particularly the arched entryway that leads to an impressive open kitchen. Llama San specializes in Peruvian-Japanese fusion food - a not uncommon concept that exists due to a large migration of Japanese coming to Peru between 1900 and 1941 or so. Don't miss out on the cocktails or the ceviche here.
And finally there's Tempura Matsui, the only Michelin star tempura restaurant in the country. It'll certainly cost you a pretty penny to dine here (a pretty penny worth about $200) but it was quite the experience. The tempura was as perfect as you'd expect it - the perfect crunch with just a thin layer of batter. And not to mention all kinds of different tempura including uni, scallop, anago, white snapper and shiso, and more.
Some other dinner spots that I didn't get to but that are high on my list: Kono, Sushi Ginza Onodera, Bohemian Restaurant, and Torien.
Dinner, of course, isn't complete without dessert. And Manhattan has a lot to offer here.
The Little One is a small and initially unassuming store on the outskirts of Chinatown and Lower Eastside. However, step in and you'll immediately get acquainted with its charm. For such a small shop, The Little One boasts an impressive menu. You can get a monaka ice cream sandwich, a kakigori, an iced matcha latte all from here. Due to its limited hours though, you'll either need to visit after lunch or after an early dinner.
Cha-An is a kissaten-like dessert shop in NoHo. It's quaint but due to its size, can get loud at times. But regardless of that one detail - for anyone that loves Japanese desserts, this is will be an instant hit. Their menu changes with the seasons, but you really can't go wrong here.
No conversation about Japanese food in New York is complete without at least mentioning Brooklyn. To be honest, I don't know why there are so many Japanese eateries on this side of town, but I'm all here for it. (Also, if you do know why this is, please enlighten me!).
Breakfast + Brunch
When I think of Japanese breakfast in New York, two places come to mind: Rule of Thirds and Okonomi. Rule of Thirds has a less traditional but still lovely Japanese breakfast offering. I was especially impressed by their miso soup, made from almond miso made in house. Okonomi is more on the traditional side with an "Ichiju Sansai"-style offering of fish, two sides, miso soup, and rice.
If you don't like big breakfasts, you can also start your morning out with a cup of coffee from % Arabica, a coffee brand that started in Japan, and a pastry or two from renowned bakery, Burrow. Bon Appetit did a wonderful profile on this bakery, which you can read here.
Not far from Rule of Thirds is ACRE, yet another wonderful Japanese cafe that serves delicious bentos to-go. But if you happen to be closer to Williamsburg, you can check out the Brooklyn Ball Factory for more bento options.
While I'm not as well-versed regarding dinner spots in Brooklyn, Nami Nori is one place to consider.
Last but certainly not least, if you still need to satisfy that sweet tooth, Patisserie Tomoko is here to save the day. At this cozy (and occasionally chaotic) dessert shop, there's something for everyone here, whether it's cake, pudding, mochi... you name it.
Copyright © 2022 Hapa Cooks