There is no shortage of Japanese restaurants in New York, but most are practically duplicates of one another. For something unique and more authentic, there are two great options in the East Village: Kyo Ya and Wasan. Both restaurants offer gourmet Japanese small plates, but they are served in different environments with contrasting points of view.
Tucked away on East 7th Street a few steps below street level, Kyo Ya is easy to miss; but have a meal here and you’ll be glad you found this hidden treasure. The ambiance is sleek and serene, and eating here evokes feelings of dining in a quiet corner of Japan. For a special occasion (or if money is no object), order one of the tasting menus ($95/$120/$150). Otherwise, be sure to order one of their pressed sushi rolls. The mackerel version is not only tasty, but it’s also a work of art. They use an entire fish, from head to tail, then top alternating pieces with ginger or wasabi, and finish it off with delicate, edible flowers. The small plates at Kyo Ya are beautiful and ethereal, and it’s clear that a lot of thought goes into each morsel.
Wasan’s dishes are equally as refined, but a bit more playful, and they’re served in a casual setting. One standout plate is the Uni Lover ($12.25): sea urchin and avocado on homemade uni chips, peanuts with garlic flavored oil on top. If you like uni, you will love this dish. Another amazing bite is the Fois Gras Rice ($12): sauteed fois gras on sushi rice served in endive, strawberry flavored balsamic sauce on top. It’s as delicously decadent as it sounds. There are also two types of fried shrimp offered; one has regular tempura batter, and the other is coated with tortilla chips and served with cilantro sauce. Both are great! In fact, nothing on the menu here is disappointing, so explore and enjoy.
Whether you prefer authentic dishes in an elegant setting, or more inventive dishes in an informal atmosphere, the East Village is your Japanese dining destination.
94 East 7th Street
(between 1st Ave and Ave A)
New York, NY 10009
108 East 4th Street
(between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003