If you’re craving a unique dining experience, several recent openings deliver. At three new Japanese restaurants in NYC — Ikinari Steak, Yo! and Ichiran — eating out is an experience. Here’s what to expect before you go.
Eat sirloin standing up at Ikinari Steak
There are a few things that make this steakhouse — which opened its first location outside of Japan in the East Village in February — stand out. Though the most important one is that you stand up: The dining room is noticeably lacking in chairs at its tables. It’s all in the name of fast service — you can enjoy a high-quality steak and get in and out in 30 minutes or less. Choose your cut (ribeye, sirloin or filet) and how much you want (depending on the cut, minimums range from 7.1 oz. to 10.6 oz., costing $16 to $27). The meat is typically served rare on a hot, cast-iron platter and comes with onions, corn and a garlic paste. Further customize the sizzling steak with a range of seasonings and sauces, like the restaurant’s soy-based “special J-sauce,” mustard and wasabi. And no worry about leaving a tip once you’re done — it’s included. 90 E. 10th St., 917-388-3546,
ikinaristeakusa.com (Credit: Ikinari Steak)
Eat sushi from a conveyor belt at Yo!
There used to be a few kaiten — or conveyor belt sushi — in Manhattan until closures from the likes of Sakae Sushi and East Japanese Restaurant. This
month-old Japanese street food and sushi chain, which comes courtesy of the UK, brings the novelty back. See something you want coming by? Just grab the plate — which is color-coded by price, from $3.50 (green) to $8 (yellow) — off the 100-foot-long conveyor belt, and repeat to your stomach’s content. Sushi range from simply fish atop rice to salmon dragon rolls and salmon and yuzu salsa. You can also just order from the menu, which has more than 80 items, from sushi to ramen to salmon nori tacos. It’s definitely worth ordering off the menu for the deep-fried bao filled with vanilla ice cream. 23 W. 23rd St., 646-781-8640, yosushiusa.com (Credit: Jillian Jorgensen)
Eat ramen in your own ‘flavor concentration booth’ at Ichiran
There is some lingering stigma with dining alone. But at Ichiran, it’s the whole point. The Japanese ramen chain, which opened its first U.S. location in Brooklyn last fall, has crafted a whole system devoted to the solo diner — which also limits interaction with people in general. From self-seating charts for one of its 30 partitioned “flavor concentration booths” to a written ordering system to a red button you press when you’re ready to order, you don’t have to talk to anyone. The restaurant specializes in tonkotsu ramen — pork bone broth with thin, non-curly noodles — which you can customize by strength of the dashi; richness of the broth; amount of pork, garlic and scallion; spiciness and texture of noodle (extra firm to extra soft), for a flat fee of $18.90 (tip included). Not feeling anti-social? There is a typical dining area, too. 374 Johnson Ave., Bushwick, 718-381-0491,
ichiran.com (Credit: Rebecca Fondren)