Mon-Thu, noon-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
6 at 51st St.; E, V at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
In 1963 Nobuyoshi Kuraoka opened Nippon, the first Japanese restaurant in New York to serve raw sushi. And as befits a sushi joint with history, the style favors the traditionalógo elsewhere for quirky, experimental dishes. What gives Nippon its cachet are soba noodles, made daily from buckwheat harvested from Kuraoka's farm in Canada then blended in a way that heightens flavor: The soba beef salad, a house specialty consisting of thin slices of rare prime rib so tender you can cut it with a fork, is served over crisp, shredded romaine lettuce (a crunchy counterpoint) as well as a side of the nutty, toothy soba. Interestingly, Kuraoka invented beef negimayaki, a dish now ubiquitous on Japanese menus around the world. Understated in look as well as cuisine, the restaurant's walls are covered in soft, peach-colored silk and paneled with imported Japanese Cypress, a wood that absorbs noise and buffers conversations thereby ensuring suit-and-ties and their high-heeled cohorts a quiet respite. If you're in a group you can sit in one of the five private tatami rooms, with low tables and seats cut out of the floor for your legs.Recommended Dishes
Beef soba salad, $22; tempura, $22; beef negimayaki, $24