4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
8th St. to 28th St., First Ave. to Sixth Ave.
This venue is closed.
At first glance, Butai, "stage" in Japanese, looks as sleek as a men's club, with a brown-and-beige color scheme, a large sushi bar lit from within and glowing on the main level, and an upstairs room decorated in brown velvet and punctuated by red and black Japanese lettering. The food, too, looks inviting, despite the seven-page menu's master-list presentation on a clipboard. But whether you enjoy your meal may depend on how you order: Japanese patrons stick with simple whole fish and skewers, and so should you. The restaurant works on a small-plate theme, which is terrific because many of the dishes are good enough for several bites, but not always inspiring as a meal. You won't go wrong with the Buta-Bara Ponzu, pork belly skewered and grilled, and topped with ponzu sauce and grated radish. Grilling is a theme; you'll find a wide selection of deep-fried, flame-broiled, and skewered items. The smartest choices tend to be the most straightforward. That said, most dishes lack bite and bold flavorings. But whether you fancy squid tentacles, crossbreed duck, deep-fried pork, simple gizzards with salt, you won't be pressed for options.Recommended Dishes
Buta-bara ponzu, $3; filet mignon aburi yaki, $16-$28; crunchy dragon roll, $16; orange river roll, $16; rainbow road roll, $16