Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2:30pm and 6pm-4am; Sat-Sun, 6pm-4am
6 at 51st St.; E, V at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Maybe it's the thin, luscious slices of grilled cow tongue or the bowl bearing cubes of raw tuna, salmon roe, and frothy, slimy grated Japanese yam, which you scramble with wasabi and soy before slurping up. Or maybe it's the vibe that confirms you're not at your typical American Japanese restaurant. Instead, you're at a type of restaurant common in Japan: the izakaya, a modest Japanese pub dispensing a wide array of tasty, homey little dishes and plenty to drink. A tiny place with cheap wood tables, shelves crowded with sake bottles, and flimsy spherical paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, Ariyoshi attracts a lively after-work crowd from the office buildings nearby, mostly Japanese men, their ties off and sleeves rolled up, who get progressively louder as empty beers accumulate on their tables. Small plates—of housemade gyoza with delicate wrappers and browned bottoms, of greaseless deep-fried croquettes of crab and creamy potato—are scattered between the bottles. So what if the yakitori (grilled skewered meats) are often overcooked? Enough beer, and the restaurant's few weak spots quickly fade.Recommended Dishes
Yaki gyoza, $5.75; crab croquette, $6.50; grilled sliced beef tongue, $7.50; tuna with Japanese yam, $7.50