Bored with sushi, but craving Japanese food? We’ve got you covered!
Sushi rose to the forefront of America’s perception of Japanese cuisine after World War II and has stayed there ever since. Its ubiquity has reached everywhere from small towns in the Midwest to big cities like here in New York.
But sushi isn’t for everyone.
The idea of eating raw fish is a big turn off for a lot of folks, which dissuades them from trying any other Japanese food as if sushi is some end-all-be-all gatekeeper.
Luckily, there is a lot of Japanese food that isn’t fish and is cooked, and NYC has plenty of restaurants. From the simple and popular teriyaki to the crunchy katsu, New York has got your Japanese food cravings covered. Itadakimasu!
Katsu-hama (43-45 W 55th S & 11 E 47th St, Manhattan)
With two locations in Manhattan, Katsu-hama is a low-key joint that specializes in katsu, a panko-breaded, deep-fried dish. At Katsu-hama, their eponymous signature dish is pork. If eating pork is a problem for you, no worries, they also serve curry, donburi, and ramen (55th St location only).
Their main entrees come in two forms: gozen (御膳) and teishoku (定食). The gozen meals cost a little bit more and include a bowl of rice, pork soup with simmered vegetables, potato salad and grind sesame. The teishoku version of the entrees are a bit cheaper and only include a bowl of rice and miso soup to go with your main dish.
And if you’re looking to get your drink on after-hours Katsu-hama offers Japanese beers, wines, sake, shochu, and sours. If you’re seeking something crunchy and Japanese, Katsu-hana is the place to be.
Yakitori Taisho (5 St Marks Pl #1, Manhattan)
Yakitori Taisho is in lower Manhattan within the East Village and specializes in yakitori (skewered chicken and vegetables).
Yakitori Taisho is an intimate restaurant known for its busy and lively environment, but the fast and attentive staff. A visit to Yakitori Taisho might be quicker than you think. If you have a craving to eat stuff off of a stick, stop by Yakitori Taisho!
Just a quick tip about eating yakitori before we move on: as a rule, don’t remove the food from the skewer with your chopsticks--keep it on there and dig in. Only remove it if you have to, for instance, if you’re sharing.
Sharaku (14 Stuyvesant St, Manhattan)
Sharaku, similar to Yakitori Taisho, is also located in the East VIllage. Sharaku offers a very traditional and all-around Japanese menu (including sushi!) that features items like toro steak, sukiyaki, yakiniku, and regular bento box lunch sets.
The signature dish at Sharaku is the Chicken of Sharaku, which is a pan fried bites of chicken that comes tamari sauce to dip in. Tamari sauce is a less salty but richer kind of soy sauce that is specific to Japanese cuisine.
Sakura 6 (837 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn)
You can find Sakura 6 over in Brooklyn boasting an impressive menu of over 100 selections, sushi or otherwise. If you can think of it, Sakura 6 probably has it.
One of their most popular (and featured) items is gyoza, a type of Japanese dumpling. You can get them filled with pork or vegetables. Oishii!
Shalom Japan (310 S 4th St, Brooklyn)
Shalom Japan is a fusion restaurant located in Brooklyn that takes two different cultures and mixes their cuisine into something delicious. The menu is headed by chefs Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi who came together to provide one of the most unique dining experiences in the Greater New York area.
The menu at Shalom Japan has items like matzoh ball ramen; an okonomiyaki with sauerkraut, pastrami and bonito; and a lox bowl with rice, cucumber, Japanese pickle, avocado, and ikura. Shalom Japan is a dining experience you cannot miss out on.
Kiraku (1948 Williamsbridge Rd, Bronx)
Located up in the Bronx, Kiraku is another multifaceted Japanese restaurant capable of anything and everything you can think of. Does it have sushi? Sure does, but it also has a wide selection of other Japanese dishes such as ramen, soba, bento, salad, fried rice, and donburi.
Donburi is a very simple but very delicious Japanese dish. The word “donburi” (丼) literally translates to bowl. The dish itself is typically meat, fish or vegetables (or a combination of the three) on top of a bowl of rice. It’s filling and nutritious, and Kiraku is serving it them up hot!
Nabe Harlem (2367 Frederick Douglass Blvd, Manhattan)
On their website, Nabe Harlem’s goal is to “reintroduces Japanese Cuisine as something other than Sushi and Ramen,” very similar to the goal of this article. Nabe Harlem is a fusion restaurant at heart, offering a very unexpected but fascinating combination of waffles and tempura.
But if you’re at Nabe Harlem, you cannot miss their eponymous dish--the nabemono! “Nabemono” in Japanese translates to roughly to “a pot of things.” It is a hot pot style dish where you may place practically any ingredient you want into the pot. At Nabe Harlem, you pay for the base soup pot and then pay for the additional ingredients at a very affordable price.
If you’re hankering for more soup than you can realistically handle, Nabe Harlem is your next stop!