While New York is seemingly overflowing with sushi, ramen, and other Japanese-styled restaurants, it still proves difficult to find truly authentic Japanese food in the city. Rather than the boring California roll and cheap, boxed ramen, we at Untapped Cities are searching for fresh, traditional Japanese restaurants that seemingly transport us to the country itself. For those craving authentic Japanese cuisine, check out these six restaurants in New York City

6. Gaijin

Image courtesy Gaijin

Gaijin is an under-the-radar gem in Astoria, which offers a truly unique omakase experience. The brainchild of Executive Chef/Partner Mark and Co-Owner Jay Zheng, Gaijin’s modern take on Japanese eats includes speciality a la carte menu items like Donburi (rice bowls), temaki (hand rolls) and Robata (Japanese charcoal grill) cooked fare.

The omakase, however, is the real shining star of the menu. Changing seasonally, the omakase experience begins with an appetizer, followed by a soup and then a variety of nigiri pieces that are expertly crafted using a delicate combination of fish, rice, toppings and signature sauce flavors. Menu highlights include the Kasugo Dai (baby red snapper) brushed in the chef’s special soy and topped with shiso leaf, monkfish liver, spicy daikon and crushed sesame, in addition to the Aburi Toro (seared fatty tuna) stacked with chives, buttery aomuri uni and luxurious beluga caviar, and seared A-5 Wagyu with garlic olive oil and Hokkaido uni. Pair your meal with a bit of wine or sake for an unforgettable culinary journey.

Address: 37-12 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103

5. Sakagura

This hidden gem can be found in the veiled basement of a Midtown office building. Accompanied by an extensive list of over 200 imported sakes (categorized by region), Sakagura offers guests a modest taste of traditional Japanese cuisine.

Diners can enjoy Japanese tapas-styled dishes like Uzaku, Maguro Tartar, and Tori Karaage within the restaurant’s covert dining space. Sakagura is especially known for its cheap and quickly sold out lunch menu and homemade desserts. This restaurant is the perfect location to enjoy a quiet, relaxed meal in one of New York’s most authentic (and discreet) Japanese locations.

Address: 211 E 43rd Street Basement Level, New York NY 10017

4. Bohemian

Hidden gems don’t get much more hidden than Bohemian in the East Village. This members-only Japanese restaurant is not open to just any average Joe looking for a tasty meal. Those wishing to visit the restaurant must attain a private reservation phone number from a regular diner, as Bohemian keeps their phone number secret from the general public.

However, those lucky enough to book a reservation will enjoy an exquisite six-course tasting menu of traditional Japanese cuisine. Bohemian also offers some American food options, all served in the restaurant’s reportedly couched seating area. Bohemian is the perfect place to enjoy a unique, off-the- beaten-path meal.

Address: 57 Great Jones St.New YorkNY 10012 

3. Karasu

Image Courtesy of Karasu

To find this Japanese speakeasy, customers must walk through the back door of Fort Greene’s Walter’s: an Italian restaurant concealing Karasu. This hidden Japanese jewel offers a more casual variety of food options, all of which are meant for sharing. Along with traditional Japanese fare, diners may order non-traditional dishes like fried pork chops and cole slaw.

Karasu also offers an extensive cocktail menu, including inventive drinks like the ‘Watermelon Man” and ‘Love Supreme’ served alongside more classic Japanese drinks like sake and shochu.

Address: 166 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

2. Sushi Azabu

Sushi Azabu, a Michelin-starred basement sushi bar tucked in the quiet folds of Tribeca offers some of the most authentic Japanese sushi in all of New York. The fish used in Azabu’s seafood platters is shipped from Japan, then sliced and diced into traditional dishes like Shime saba and Tekka Maki.

Sushi Azabu’s cool, subterranean ambiance paired with traditional sushi creates an dining experience unlike anywhere else in the city.

Address: 428 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

1. Hakubai

This hidden restaurant located within The Kitano Hotel in Murray Hill offers a unique menu of authentic Kaiseki cuisine. Kaiseki food, a variety of Japanese cuisine, comes from the practices of Zen Buddhism and the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Along with fresh sushi and sashimi, guests can enjoy a variety of unique dishes.

Guests can visit the main dining room, or reserve a privately-booked Tatami room where meals are enjoyed on rice straw mats without shoes. The food is served on an elegant collection of porcelain, potter, and lacquer dishware at specifically timed intervals throughout the day.

Address: 66 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Next, read 7 Authentic International Street Foods You Can Find in NYC and check out 10 Best Authentic European Restaurants in NYC.

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