Wed 26 Dec 2007
Umi No Ie Japanese Restaurant – East Village NY
86 East 3rd Street (bet 1st and 2nd ave)
Among the remote edges of the East Village and the upper borders of the trendy Lower East side, is the nondescript Umi No Ie restaurant. It’s my friend Noel’s go-to Japanese restaurant and he emphatically claims that when he introduced it to one of his Japanese friends, his friend has since claimed it as his go-to place too. Somehow, I have a feeling Umi No Ie may soon become one of my go-to places as well. You’ll soon realize why as you step into the basement lodge of Umi No Ie. Granted, that night the warm dry environment was a relief from the dreary weather outside, the interior of Umi No Ie is an inviting comfortable, casual place to just ‘chill’. Maybe it’s the flicker of the candles casting long shadows against the brick wall of its dark interiors, or the low tables that force you to casually lounge on the carpet, or maybe it’s the joyful chatter from the back table that reminds you to just relax. If none of the above does the trick, check out the food and the huge selection of drinks. We shared a bottle of Na Ka Na Ka Nei sake. Yes, you can get bottle service here minus the attitude of most clubs and at a fraction of the cost. (Plus, if you don’t finish the bottle, they can save it for you for ‘next time’. Isn’t that awesome?) The food menu is a collection of comfort foods from around Japan, so don’t expect your usual sushi menu. It’s all cooked at the bar / kitchen and served immediately. Notable was the fried chicken (I am really beginning to love Asian style fried chicken), the udon which is a special recipe from the cook’s mom, and the pork belly with daicon root stew.
As we neared the bottom of our bottle of sake, the classic tracks of Nirvana Unplugged circa 1993 morphed into festive J-Pop on the stereo and at that point I realized we had just spent 2 hours at this restaurant. I looked around and noticed we were the only non-Japanese speaking customers in the whole bar/restaurant. For me, that’s 2 positive idicators about a restaurant – no hassle treatment of customers and if it’s an ethnic restaurant the number of foreign patrons. Overall, Umi No Ie is a great place to hang out with your friends, relax, drink and eat great food. Then again, isn’t that what you expect from a Go-To Place?
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