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Inakaya

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

231 W. 40th St., New York, NY 10018 40.755151 -73.988737
nr. Eighth Ave.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-354-2195 Send to Phone

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  • Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
  • Price Range: $$$

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
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    • Best in Category
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    • Delicious
    • Very Good
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    • Expensive
    • Moderate
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  • Critics' Rating: *

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Reader Rating:

    9 out of 10

      |  

    1 Reviews | Write a Review

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Official Website

inakayany.com

Hours

Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10pm; Sat-Sun, 5pm-10pm

Nearby Subway Stops

1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S at Times Sq.-42nd St.; A, C, E at 42nd St.-Port Authority Bus Terminal

Prices

$25-$65

Payment Methods

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Business Lunch
  • Good for Groups
  • Kid-Friendly
  • Lunch
  • Open Kitchens / Watch the Chef
  • Take-Out
  • Teen Appeal
  • Online Reservation

Alcohol

  • Sake and Soju
  • Full Bar

Reservations

Recommended

Profile

Typically, robatayakis are casual, neighborly places where patrons sit around a wood bar and nibble quietly on shreds of grilled meat, fish, and vegetables. But there’s nothing quiet or intimate about this setup, which is the New York outlet of a well-known restaurant in the Roppongi section of Tokyo. The main feature of the roomy, high-ceilinged hall is a wraparound, industrial-size dining bar made with acres of laminated wood. It’s manned by a squad of cooks wearing brightly colored traditional kimono costumes and latex surgical gloves. The cooks grill the food, then serve it to the diners at the bar on long wooden paddles, while keeping up an insistent call-and-response chatter with the voluble waiters, who are also dressed in elaborate costumes, like characters in some antic Japanese television food show.

Robatayakis in Japan don’t generally serve raw fish, but at this Godzilla robatayaki, sushi and sashimi are available in the usual mind-numbing variety. Within three minutes of taking my seat at the bar, I’d sampled passably fresh portions of uni, a decent piece of salmon-roe sushi, and some gummy Japanese snapper, amid much gesticulating and shouting. (“What are they saying?” I asked my Japanese-speaking friend after one deafening cry. “They’re saying your sushi has arrived,” she replied.) The raw fish at Inakaya isn’t quite on a par with the great midtown sushi parlors, but it’s not bad either. There are three grades of tuna on the menu, including a rich, if too small, piece of o-toro fatty tuna belly, which you can get as a sashimi tasting. The best deals are the maki rolls, which come in eighteen generally competent varieties, including spicy shrimp tempura, soft-shell crab, and a palatable dragon roll.

Despite the Disney-style atmosphere, Inakaya serves an array of dutifully authentic Japanese drinking dishes, like grated yams (yama-kake), helpings of squid seized in fermented soybeans (ika natto), and strips of dried stingray fins, which taste like fishy lemon rinds. My friend the Japan Snob considered her delicate teacup of chawan mushi (a kind of warm egg custard mixed with shrimp and vegetables) to be a respectable facsimile of the real thing. So was my bowl of chazuke, which is a soothing helping of rice and tea-flavored broth, dappled with seaweed and bits of sweet-and-sour ume plum or salmon roe. I don’t know if I’d pay $9 again for a sticky pile of okura kizami (cooked okra), but if you’re looking for a filling snack before boarding your Greyhound bus to Cleveland, you could do worse than the house version of kakuni (soft slices of pork belly, braised in soy) or a nourishing helping of sansai seiro, which consists of steamed bamboo and other so-called mountain vegetables served over rice in a simple wooden box.

Recommended Dishes

Grilled chicken meatballs, pork belly (kakuni), salmon-roe chazuke, salt-grilled rockfish, green-tea ice cream.

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