I was staying at the Grand Hyatt, and as folks who read the review know I had a bit of room service on arrival. So I wasn’t hungry early, but headed out to get a little bit of dinner around 8pm. First stop was Schnitzel & Things, a small restaurant that started off as a food truck with both excellent schnitzel and sides, it’s counter service and a few tables in back.
Unfortunately they close at 8pm and were cleaning up as I arrived. So had to go looking for something else to try.
That neighborhood has plenty of Japanese restaurants, and wherever there are clusters of one type of food you have competition which gives you a good shot that the food at any given place will be ok. And walking down the side streets off the avenues will imply lower rents, likelihood of experimentation, and lower prices.
So I simply wandered into the closest one, East Japanese Restaurant at 210 E. 44th St. It’s the area outpost of a small local chain of Japanese restaurants.
Walking inside it was mostly Japanese customers, another good sign because the clientele is generally educated in the cuisine they’re eating.
Sitting down, I was given a menu with pictures and subtitles. The place reminded me of the sort of Yakitori restaurant you’d find in a mall in Singapore. Not the most expensive, highest-end, or best Japanese restaurant in Japan, but a reasonable and reasonably-priced substitute that can be found elsewhere in Asia. Which struck me as pretty good for New York.
Cured Pork in Kim Chi
Fried Oysters with Egg
Grilled Short Ribs
Fried Fish Cakes
The ribs, fried oysters, and kim chi were the highlights. The fish, both uncooked and fried, and the sushi roll were fairly bland.
At a price point of about $6 per dish, you don’t expect the best quality ingredients. That would suggest that the ribs might not be great. But they’re fatty and flavorful, and that flavor is about the cooking rather than the meat itself. That’s the key to this restaurant, complex dishes stand up well while items that rest on the raw ingredients will not impress.
Ultimately it was a good and interesting meal, and a stunner for the price.
Skipped dessert here, but picked up a quick fix of sweets right next to the entrance of the Grand Hyatt (where things are much more overpriced).
Little mini-cupcakes in a variety of flavors, each one the size of a single bite and about $1 apiece (slightly lower pricing the more you buy) but each one delicious.
None of this was gourmet dining, but it was all quite reasonably priced, far less expensive than the room service lunch, and definitely tasty. And overall represents what I like so much about eating in New York, small places doing interesting things a bit off the beaten path where if you know where to look or experiment a bit you can dine well while running up a modest bill.