03/20/17 1:13pm
The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

A few weeks ago a friend who lives in Long Island City invited me to come over, mentioning that if we got hungry we could pop around the corner from her house to a Japanese izakaya where we could grab some snacks and sake. I’ll admit it, I was dubious. Long Island City has lots of choices for Asian food, but none that I’ve loved. There’s mediocre Thai in spades, just like the rest of New York City. Mu Ramen has delicious food, but the wait is always a problem and frankly, they’re just not that friendly. Hibino I do like, but I wouldn’t call it an izakaya.

What I was shocked to find, tucked behind the 108th Precinct, less than a block from the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 train was a perfect neighborhood restaurant, a place you can indeed pop into for some snacks a beer, but that also feels fancy enough for a special night out. (more…)

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08/11/14 9:22am
Meaty skewers at Bar Chuko and mozzarella and kimchee topped rice cakes. Photos: Bar Chuko

Meaty skewers at Bar Chuko and mozzarella and kimchee topped rice cakes. Photos: Bar Chuko

The okonomiyaki at Bar Chuko arrives still dancing. The savory grilled pancake is topped with shredded cabbage, bits of bacon, pickled ginger and Japanese mayonnaise, but most noticeable is the hefty pile of bonito—dried, fermented flakes of tuna so thin and delicate that, fresh out of the hot oven, they wiggle back and forth as if still alive. Of course, they’re long dead, with their fishy flavor well preserved, but once your food stops dancing, this is still an exciting dish.

Bar Chuko opened in June on Vanderbilt Avenue, just across the street from the excellent and always popular Chuko Ramen. The newer spot hasn’t generated much buzz among Brooklyn foodies yet, perhaps because of the misleading “bar” moniker, but Bar Chuko is actually more about the food than the drinks. It’s one of several new izakayas to hit Brooklyn, inspired by a very social type of Japanese drinking establishment where after-work business-folk stop in for lots of sake and (often) all-you-can-eat small bites of food. Of course, New York restaurateurs have translated izakaya the same way they did tapas, taking it to mean “tiny, expensive plates.” Yes, here’s yet another spot where you can easily drop $40 a person on food and drinks, but still wonder where your entree is. Not a bad business plan by the Chuko folks, who have filled their new Bar Chuko with hungry patrons waiting for their tables at the ramen shop across the street. (For less spendy izakaya fare, head to Sake Bar Hagi in Manhattan–it’s nearly impossible to spend more than $30 a person here, and you’ll leave drunk and stuffed.) (more…)

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