Yagura… the final piece of the 41st Street Trinity
I think 41st St. btw. Madison & 5th might be my favorite block of Midtown. It’s no secret that I love Asian food, and this particular block is home to three of the best cheap and quick Japanese lunches in the city. Even though they all serve Japanese fast food, they are all very different- each with its own niche, and price range. Moderate, Cheap and Cheaper.
I’ve written about the “moderate” Chiyoda Sushi, which serves very creative little Japanese dishes as well as the regular assortment of bento boxes, pre-packaged sushi, and a small selection of rice balls. It is the most expensive of the three places, and usually not too packed (although they certainly do a healthy business).
Cafe Zaiya, on the other hand, is a mad house. In the middle in price as well as location on the street, they have a much larger selection of pre-packaged rice balls, bento boxes, and pastries (including Beard Papas!, the cream filled puff pastry). It’s slightly cheaper than Chiyoda, and there is a larger selection, making it the most popular of the three.
Finally there’s Yagura, the bastard child of 41st Street. Unmarked (the sign is propped up sideways against the wall inside the door) and with no windows, Yagura is actually a pretty sweet Japanese grocery store, that happens to sell soups and bento boxes out of a window in the front. It’s not as bustling as Zaiya, or as nice as Chiyoda- but it’s got one thing that they don’t. The food comes out freshly heated up.
What I got, and the +/- after the jump…
On Tuesday, I was super pissed after walking all the way down to Go Go Curry, just to find it closed. Craving Katsu with curry sauce, I decided to walk down to 41st, and try the one place in the trinity that I haven’t written about. Can you guess what I ordered? Of course you can… Fried Chicken Cutlet w/ Curry ($5.50).
The chicken was crispy, and the curry was tasty (sweet with a very slight kick). What more could you ask for? It came with white rice, and pickled ginger (that’s the red stuff). It’s perfect if you don’t want to pay Chiyoda prices, want to avoid the crowds at Zaiya, and prefer your food to come out warm.
If you’re not into the fried cutlets, they have 6 soup options with Udon or Soba, 5 different rice bowls (donburi), Tempura, Teriyaki, Yakisoba (Stir Fried Noodle Dish), and of course the curry. The food comes out pretty quick, so I’m sure it’s not made to order- but it’s better than the pre-packaged bento boxes. The quality of the meat is not going to always be the best, but at prices like this it’s hard to be bothered!
THE + (What people who like this place would say)
- It’s cheap
- It’s quick
- It’s easy
- It’s not pre-packaged
THE – (what people who don’t like this place would say)
- The food quality is a notch lower than Zaiya & Chiyoda
- The place looks dirty
Yagura Japanese Grocery, 24 E 41st St. (btw. Mad+5th), 212-679-3777