Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sushi On The Belt Goes Round And Round...

Japas 27 Review

366 Third Avenue

I am always skeptical when a friend asks me to meet them at a place that I've never heard of. I assume in a city like NYC, which is so vast in size and yet so full of amazing restaurants all over, not being well known is a very bad thing. After my visit there I realize that it's true there really are some hidden gems left here in this city that is so often all about being on the surface.

Japas 27 is located in the heart of Kips Bay district, precisely on 3rd Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets. It looks like nothing special from the outside, and the inside isn't too fancy either. But this concept of the belts is so unique for America, even though it is what you will find all over sushi joints in Japan.

The whole appeal is that a belt circles through the center of the restaurant with a constant flow of plates filled with sushi, sashimi, and even cheesecake (random I know). The booths line the entire parameter of the belt so that as people are sitting down they can view (and take, for that matter) whichever plate(s) strike them. This can be dangerous, because you don't have anyone there to stop you. The beauty of it is you can take one plate at a time and if you aren't full, take another. This keeps you from wasting food like I sometimes do when I order off a menu on an empty stomach. Plates come in different colors and each color has a different price. The cucumber rolls are in the $1-2 range while the lobster or crab rolls might be closer to $3-5. Overall the prices are very reasonable, even for the more elaborate rolls.

For those people who still prefer being served or who might be skeptical about the freshness and quality of the fish (although I can vouch for the fact that it was in fact quite fresh) they can still order off of the menu. Also things like spring rolls, pot stickers, and a variety of soups must be ordered rather than taken from the belt as these are obviously best served extremely fresh.

Oh, and did I mention that the drinks are reasonable too? I am pretty sure I got a 20 ounce Asahi beer for about $5 which lasted beyond the entire meal. They also have decent sake prices and sake sangria as well. For late nighters, you can always head upstairs later for a good old-fashioned karaoke experience. Yes, karaoke rooms are available for private parties and there is public space as well.

It's refreshing when you have those moments of surprise, where you take the chance and go somewhere unknown or random, and you leave just knowing that you'll return. As the Japanese might say, "Umai", which means quite simply, "yum". This dining experience is simple in ambiance but fun in concept and delicious as far as both cuisine and drinks go. Just make sure you understand that you will most likely have to wait for a little while during prime dinner hours both weekends and weekdays.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Urban Beauty

I am reading a book right now and one passage seems appropriate for my blog because it describes NYC from a narrator similar to myself...

"...It's the rich fabric of my daily life -- things that barely registered before but that now feel sentimental. It's my walk to work and the silent camaraderie of other commuters swelling in the crosswalks around me...It's the sway of the subway careening efficiently along the tracks, and the satisfaction of flagging down a cab on a bustling weekend night in the Village. It's the burgers at P.J. Clarke's, the dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie, and the bagels at my corner bodega. It's knowing that when I walk out of our brownstone, I will see something new every single day. It's the diversity of choices and people, the raw urban beauty, the endless hum of possibility everywhere."
-Love the One You're With by Emily Griffin

Sadly the protagonist here is speaking in sentimental tone as she is about to move out of the city. I am the opposite as I have just moved in. I haven't even tried the restaurants that she has mentioned but I have plenty of time to do so, and that is the beauty of it.

P.S. Please note the cookies in this picture are courtesy of Eleni's Bakery in Chelsea Market. Kind of a random picture to include, but I think they exemplify the spirit of New York pretty well.