Friday, November 6, 2009

Little Tokyo Street

There's a section of St. Mark's in the East Village known as Little Tokyo. East 9th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in particular has some good Japanese restaurants (same street where Sake Bar Decibel, Otofuku, and Yakiniku West are located). The building at the corner that also houses the St. Mark's bookstore (across from an NYU building) contains Sharaku, Village Yokocho, and Angel's Share.

LUNCH - Sharaku is a reliable place to go for Japanese food. The main draw is their lunch specials, which include sushi and soba combos and a good salmon bento box, at relatively affordable prices.

DINNER - Next door to Sharaku on the upper level is Village Yokocho, open from 5 PM to 3 AM. It's in the style of a Japanese pub so instead of ordering one large meal, you sample a little of this and a little of that (which can really add up so beware of the large bill at the end of your meal).

Village Yokocho was down-the-stairs and out-the-door crowded the times we went.

No sushi bar here. This is their yakitori bar.

Village Yokocho's menu is extensive, diverse, and kind of all over the map. The menu options are so large that it actually takes a long time to figure out what to order. It's not the standard menu consisting of the typical sushi/donburi options/teriyaki options. This rich, buttery mushroom dish was delicious.

Village Yokocho also has Korean dishes on its menu, like this pajan (Korean Pancake). We love when Pajan is extra crispy on the outer edges.

We wonder if the Otofuku guys just bring this up?

Fresh, healthy chirashi bowl to offset the heaviness of the buttery and greasy dishes above. (Note: These photos were taken about a year ago, well in advance of my food poisoning incident - it's hard enough for me to just look at photos of Ikura now).

COCKTAILS - And while you're sitting at your table at Village Yokocho, you'll notice people walking in and out of an unmarked door inside the restaurant. You know it's not the restroom. You ask, is it a private room? Sort of - it's Angel's Share.

Behind the secretive, unmarked door oddly placed inside a bustling, yakitori-smelling Japanese restaurant is a quiet, small, serene dimly lit elegant parlor. The large mural lit above the bar gave it a dreamy ambiance, and looking around at all the couples, a popular date spot. The two Japanese bartenders looked like they were handling their business efficiently and politely, while wearing their crisp white shirts, black ties and black vests.

We somehow lucked out on the last two seats. Angel's Share has a no-standing bar policy, probably to maintain a subdued environment, which is almost unheard of at other popular New York City bars and lounges on weekends. There's also a strictly enforced rule where only groups of four or fewer can be seated.

The cocktails were expensive so we sipped our one cocktail each very slowly. The downside was that due to the limited seating space, we felt a bit pressured to order more to keep our seats (since we saw people attempting to enter the bar then being turned). Nevertheless, it's a cool little bar with some interesting drink options (we stuck to beer and sake because the mixed cocktails were buco bucks). They also offer interesting food options, prepared in the Village Yokocho kitchen of course. The greatest appeal of Angle's Share is feeling like you're drinking at a mysterious spot, even if it's not so mysterious anymore.