Sunday, April 27, 2008

Japanese Pub Fare

Ariyoshi, at 226 E. 53rd St., is an izakaya, a traditional Japanese drinking establishment with small plates to accompany your sake or shochu or beer. It's a tiny, casual place, and I'm told very much similar in feel to izakayas in Japan. An izakaya is pretty much the Japanese equivalent of a tapas bar. At Ariyoshi a wide variety of items, generally in the $5-8 dollar range, is available, including stewed, grilled, or fried meat and seafood dishes, sushi and sashimi, and salads.

I dined at Ariyoshi with a couple of friends, including Masa, who is Japanese; he was able to confirm the authenticity of the place as well as help with the ordering. Three of us shared about a dozen items.

The quality of the food ranged from decent to very good. Among my favorite dishes were the stewed pork belly (the staff recommended this over the grilled belly), fried chicken chunks in a vinegar sauce, and tempura smelts. Also excellent was a negi-hama roll (yellowtail and scallion) from the sushi bar. In the next tier were marinated fluke fin (raw, with a crunchy consistency), tsukune (chicken meatballs), and grilled squid legs. In general, the cold vegetable items--a seaweed salad and spinach with tiny fish--were bland and disappointing. Also disappointing were the grilled beef tongue, which looked great but was rather tough, and some limp gyoza.

squid legs


pork belly

fluke fin

The food at Ariyoshi is generally simple, homey fare. Nothing fancy. In other words, Ariyoshi's a pleasant place to chow down on some tasty food, have a couple of drinks, and feel like you're doing it all in Japan, but otherwise expectations shouldn't be too high.

Ariyoshi on Urbanspoon


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