Since it's situated deep in the West Village, I don't get there all that often but I do enjoy a leisurely lunch at En Japanese Brasserie where the midday dining options during the week include a variety of lunch sets ranging in price from $15 to $38. While it may not be the cheapest lunch in town, the sleek cavernous space with high ceilings and sizable windows offers a pleasant backdrop while the sides included in the sets add tangible and tasty value. Miso soup and mizuna & watercress salad with ponzu dressing are the standard accompaniments but the real winner is the restaurant's specialty dish, a side of fresh soft tofu (made every hour) topped with wari-joyu, a mixture of soy sauce and fish broth. As someone who happens to really like tofu, I'm not exaggerating when I say that the tofu alone makes eating here worthwhile. It is easily the best tofu I've ever tasted. The texture is smooth and creamy with an almost custard-like consistency while the delicate soy bean flavor is perfectly accentuated by the hints of sweetness in the sauce.
35 Hudson Street (Leroy)
New York City
The Japanese style Crispy Fried Chicken is a favorite of mine. Consisting of four pieces of boneless dark meat, it is delicately seasoned and quite juicy though not particularly crispy. It comes with rice and a selection of obanzai and oshinko (house-made Asa-Zuké pickles).
Saikyo Miso Black Cod has become a requisite Japanese restaurant dish thanks to Nobu and it's good here if not a real standout. The miso flavor is just right and the fish is both buttery and flaky. This also comes with rice and a selection of obanzai and oshinko.
Sushi sets like this Premium Nigiri Sushi are also offered. It's better than average as far as sushi goes but I tend to stay away from the sushi/sashimi selection just cause it is not one of their specialties.
The Kuroge Washugyu Yaki Shabu features thin slices of washugyu black angus short rib served with a hot stone for you to cook your meat at the table. At $32, it is at the high end of the price spectrum. While this may not be the best value, the meat is of a high quality, nicely marbled and quite literally just melts in your mouth.