I always ask, where can I find authentic Japanese food with an affordable price tag in the heart of New York City? I am quite fed up with the idea that,Japanese food will not be cheap, and delicious Japanese food is definitely pricy. If you ever find a low-priced sushi or sashimi, it possibly comes from a kitchen manned by a crew of Chinese chefs. Chinese managers always find some means to keep down the costs and make Japanese food look good their way. Yet, the trade-off is: the sushi rice, the vinegar, the seaweed do not taste like the Japanese. The other big issue that many non-authentic Japanese pantries are short of is the freshness of the raw meat. It is not easy to copy the Japanese’s obsession about cleanliness and freshness. And this also explains why Japanese dares to serve (and eat) sashimi.
So, after all these complaints about some disguised Japanese eateries, have I finally found somewhere with a real Japanese taste, and more importantly, a nice-looking price tag in the middle of Manhattan? Surely, why should I write here?!
Located at 224 East 59th Street, Katagiri is a small yet a clean and neat Japanese supermarket that sells groceries and ready-to-eat Japanese food. The store houses a wide range of imported Japanese snacks, oils and sauces, rice, noodles, seaweed, seasoning, and tea, that one may not find easily elsewhere. For example, the imported Kikkoman soy sauce is richer, more solid, and slightly tantalizing than the same brand of soy sauce that is made in the U.S.A.
The supermarket also serves a reasonable range of popular Japanese food “to go”, including sushi, sashimi, tempura, Asian salad, marinated mini-octopus, noodles and bento (rice with meat and vegetables in a box). Particularly for the sushi (with raw tuna or salmon), after the first bite, the word “fresh” will immediately come to you mind. You can tell that they are not the kind of overnight leftover meat. The second bite will give you a sense of texture, that, ngmmm, this is real sushi rice mixing with just the right portion of vinegar. Next is the overall taste…hah…. simply delectable. To add a bit more sparkles to one’s palate, dip it in an imported Kikkoman soy sauce, or if you can bear, wasabi and red ginger. The price for a small set of sushi (about 3-4 pieces) costs approximately USD4-5, and that for a bigger pack of sushi (about 7-8 pieces) costs about USD10, which are reasonable considering their qualities and the location of the store. It may cost one a bit less to buy sushi from a Chinese fusion take-out, but of course, the sacrifice is the authentic taste and the freshness.