Davelle, All-Day Japanese Cafe in LES

davelle, all-day cafe

Davelle, an all-day Japanese cafe in the LES, is a small and cozy little nook hidden away on an obscure corner of Suffolk St that takes a little effort to get to, but it’s certainly worth the trip. I’d walk many avenues east for multiple bites of the restaurant’s signature mochi mochi spaghetti, which sounds a bit dubious at first, especially when the waitress describes the ketchup sauce, but second and third helpings of the pasta will erase those doubts. And once you’re finished, which will be too quickly, you’ll start eyeing other parts of the menu, which changes as the day progress from breakfast, lunch to dinner. Those breakfast toast sets sound mighty delicious.Read More

Tetsu in Tribeca

the open grill at tetsu

It’s crazy to think that a meal at Masa in NYC, which costs ~$595 a person pretax, is comparable to the cost of a round-trip ticket to Europe somewhere. I’m not quite convinced that one meal, no matter how good, would ever be equivalent to a transcontinental getaway. Those of us priced out of Masa will never find out if the food there is worth an arm and a leg, but what we can do is go to its more accessible sister restaurant Tetsu, a Japanese robata newly opened in Tribeca, where dishes are comfortably priced in the single or double digit range.Read More

Ato in Soho

Ato is a restaurant that’s very easy to miss, even if you’re looking for it. It looks like an abandoned retail space from the outside with no obvious signage around. Once you do a double take and notice the menu taped out front, you might be inclined to enter, although you’ll still wonder if this place is fully open. Something about it feels like it hasn’t completely repurposed its original retail space as a restaurant, even though there is an omakase counter and proper tables set up in there. But sure enough, Ato is very much fully operating, despite looking like a work in progress.Read More

Japanese Home Cooking at Ootoya

Japanese food in New York is pretty awesome. Whether you want excellent soba, ramen or yakitori, you have so many options to choose from. Nothing makes me happier than a rice bowl with delicious pieces of egg and pork tonkatsu laid on top. As you would expect, there are a lot of options for a kick ass donburi bowl, and other homestyle cooking items in general, and Ootoya makes a lot of them.

Ootoya is a Japan-based chain that specializes in traditional home cooking, specifically set meals, or teishoku, which generally consists of meat, fish, rice, miso soup and a side of pickled vegetables. The quiet buzzy atmosphere and the clean minimalist surroundings with an open-air dai really make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Japan. The food, most importantly, is comparable to what they’re serving in the mother land.

ootoya - tofu
homemade tofu with selected salt

I was having a particularly rough Sunday, but as soon as I had a taste of the grilled mackerel in the hokke yuan dinner set, all my troubles seemed to melt away. I was too distracted by the deliciously unctuous and salty quality of the plump mackerel pieces sitting on top of the warm, herbal bed of rice. The hot miso soup, which was notable for the presence of thick, hearty vegetables throughout, was extremely soothing and was the perfect antidote for my depressing, cold Sunday night. Mixing in some chawanmushi into the rice and blending in the mackerel ponzu sauce really cinched things together into a delicious porridge.

ootyoa - mackerel
hokke yuan – grilled atka mackerel marinated in yuan sauce

The kaisen don, which was essentially a chirashi bowl served with a side of requisite soup, egg custard and pickles, was like a treasure chest of fresh, flavorful raw fish. Digging through the sushi vinegar rice and finding little orange bits of Santa Barbara uni and blue fin tuna was a very satisfactory treasure hunt, indeed. I tried to stop myself from picking at all the delicious rice, but when salty salmon roe awaits you, it’s hard to say no.

ootoya - kaisen
mini kaisen don

Throwing back all this food with a glass of Asahi and a bowl of green tea ice cream was just what I needed for the evening. I was at peace that my day sucked, and that tomorrow was an early start of the work week. They say you shouldn’t eat your feelings, but when stress and sadness are ingested in the form of delicious donburi, then this phrase definitely needs to be revisited.

8 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-0018