New York's Best Japanese, 2010

New York's Best Japanese, 2010

Explore the richness and depth of Japanese cooking in New York City with this guide to the best Japanese restaurants, izakaya, soba and ramen joints, sushi bars, and yakitori spots. Whether it's Kyo Ya where Chef Sono dazzles with contemporary Japanese cuisine, or Aburiya Kinnosuke known for stylish robata grilling and seasonal dishes, this list has something for every Japanese cuisine enthusiast.

Hey, Chefs Sono-san and Abe-san are ready to cook for you -- so what are you waiting for? Whew, it's been over two years since I posted a list of my favorite Japanese restaurants in New York -- an update is way overdue. (Thanks to all the readers who've been nudging me). So much has changed since the original post: a flood of new restaurants, a mindboggling variety of Japanese food, from rarified to "B.Q." ("b' quality gourmet," as it's called in Japan). There is no other city in North America where you can find the richness and depth of Japanese cooking that exists in New York. Here are my ten favorite restaurants, listed in alphabetical order:

Aburiya Kinnosuke This stylish restaurant specializes in robata grilling, plus a slew of seasonal dishes. Make sure to try the tsukune, the grilled chicken meatball. (213 E 45th St betw 2nd and 3rd, 212-867-5454)

EN Japanese Brasserie Chef Abe, on the left in the photo, cooks a sophisticated take on izakaya cuisine at this hip and beautiful downtown spot run by my pals Jesse and Reika Alexander. I love everything on the menu, from the fresh tofu to wagyu beef, plus sommelier Taka's sake picks. (435 Hudson St at Leroy, 212-647-9196)

Kajitsu Opened by a historic fu maker from Kyoto (fu is wheat gluten), Kajitsu specializes in shojin ryori, Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, with a sublime seasonal menu that changes monthly. (414 East 9th St betw 1st and A, 212-228-4873)

Kyo Ya Chef Sono, on the right in the photo, cooks dazzling contemporary Japanese cuisine at this incredible Michelin-starred restaurant. My wife and I love sitting at the dining counter and watching Sono-san in action. (94 East 7th St betw 1st and A, 212-982-4140)

Matsuri My friend and co-author Tadashi Ono runs this terrific upscale izakaya set in a dramatic subterranean space. Make sure to try Tadashi's hot pots in the fall and winter, and all the other amazing dishes he cooks. Don't forget Tadashi's huge sake selection. (369 West 16th St at 9th, 212-243-6400)

Minca My wife and I love this ramen joint, which specializes in Kyushu-style ramen, with its rich pork stock. (536 East 5th St, betw A and B, 212-505-8001)

Sakagura Hidden in the basement of a nondescript midtown office building, Sakagura has one of the largest sake collections in America, plus a fantastic small-plate izakaya menu. Their soba at lunch is also wonderful. (211 East 43rd St, betw 2nd and 3rd, 212-953-7253)

SobaKoh The chef who makes the Tokyo-style soba here is the real deal -- he cuts his soba by hand and serves it with mouthwatering tsuyu, soba dipping sauce. (309 East 5th St, betw 1st and 2nd, 212-254-2244)

Sushi Zen My wife and I don't go out for sushi very often, but when we do, we make a beeline to Chef Suzuki's counter at Sushi Zen, our vote for the best in the city. (108 West 44th St, betw 6th and 7th, 212-302-0707)

Yakitori Totto Long wait sometimes, yes, but the authentic yakitori here is worth it. (251 West 55th St, betw Broadway and 8th, 212-245-4555)

Here are a few other notable spots to check out: Takashi, Curry-Ya, Totto Ramen, Robataya, Tori Shin and Cha-An

What are your favorites? Please list them in the comments!