Takoyaki Comes to Midtown @ the 47th St. Japanese Convenience Store & Deli

When you say “Convenience Store”,  good lunch’ing is not really the first thing that pops into my mind.  Sure, I like a Drake’s Apple Pie just as much as the next guy, but old hot dogs and a slushy don’t really make an appealing lunch in my book.  Take “Convenience Store” and add the word “Japanese” to the front, and now you’re talking. 

In between checking out the Steak Truck on 47th & Park, and meeting a friend for lunch on 47th & 3rd, I stumbled upon this little gem of a “Convenience Store” and wondered why the hell nobody emailed me about it!  Stop hoarding places from me people.  Especially Asian Food.  It’s not right.  (Even though discovering it myself made it that much more awesome!) 

What they have, Japanese Convenience Store Food Porn, and a +/- after the jump… 

Located on 47th st. btw. Lex+3rd, it is right next to the Yaktori place Amakusa, and has the same owners.  Like most Yakitori places, Amakusa doesn‘t open until after 5pm- but if you are a fan of that place, than you should love the 47th St. Convenience Store.

Compared to Yagura (the cheap, grocery store 1/3 of the 41st Street Japanese Trinity), the 47th St. Japanese Convenience Store is pretty small.  The front half of the store is filled with assorted Japanese snacks, drinks, and a few fresh groceries.  If you have ever lamented the lack of Pocky in Midtown, this place should solve all your problems.  But as you venture back through the groceries, the real fun begins.

On the right, in front of the check out counter is a table filled with pre-made bento boxes.  Every day they have a different selection, and I was most excited to find Takoyaki, the little fried Japanese dumplings, stuffed with squid.  It was just over a year ago today that I wrote about how envious I was of anybody who worked near Otafuku, a Japanese take out counter in the East Village, specializing in Takoyaki, Yakisoba & Okonomiyaki.  Well, it only took a year, but the 47th St. Japanese Convenience Store has answered my prayers!

I didn‘t actually get to try them, since I was on my way to eat somewhere else.  And the two times I went back afterwards to eat, they didn‘t actually have them- so I can’t say if they are good or not.  But who cares?  They have them!  That’s the important thing.  Plus there were plenty of other choices when I went back to actually eat there, including a Ketchup rice omelet, various tempuras, yakisoba and more

I ended up getting a bento filled with an assortment of goodies.  A piece of fried fish, a Japanese meatball, rice, shumai and konnyaku (which is this glutinous potato flour thing) that I really enjoyed.  It has a similar consistency to rice cakes, but a little more gelatinous, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, every piece of the box was delicious, and held up pretty well to being microwaved- which the lady behind the counter was happy to do for me when I told her I was eating my food there (they have a real nice seating area in the back).  The bentos are as fresh as pre-assembled food in plastic containers can be, but if you are still not into it, there is a menu of rice bowls, curry rice bowls and noodle soups behind the counter that are made to order. 

The food ordered from behind the counter comes up from the kitchen below on a dumbwaiter, which is very exciting for anyone who grew up watching Webster (but wasn‘t rich enough to have an actual dumbwaiter themselves).  My friend ordered the Pork Cutlet over Curry Rice, which came up Webster style, nice and hot.  At $8 it is a lot more expensive than Yagura ($5.50), but beggars can’t be choosers.  If you work in the low 50s, it might be worth the extra $2.50 to not have to walk the extra 6 blocks and 2 Avenues!

In addition to bentos, noodle soups, and curry rice bowls, they also have assorted snacks on the table which change every day.  Various fishies wrapped in saran wrap, as well as a small selection of Onigiri, or rice balls.  I tried the “Tarako“, which I thought she said was “Cuttle Fish” (squid), but it turned out she must have been saying “Cod Fish”.  Luckily roe doesn’t turn me off (it was actually Cod Fish Roe, not just cod fish), and it was not bad at all- if you like super salty fish eggs.  If you are not that adventurous, it’s ok.  They have the standard salmon and seaweed versions too.

Finally, they have what could be the strangest by the lb. buffet in all of Midtown, and it only has four items, so it’s definitely the smallest.  For $6.25 a lb. you have a choice of 4 traditional Japanese snacks/condiments, which the day I was there included seaweed, stewed daikon, dried fish and konnyaku (which I had already gotten with my bento).   Have it over rice (for $1.50) or add it to whatever bento you order.  This place is amazing!

I’ve never been to Japan, but I’m guessing that this place is the closest thing to an authentic Japanese Convenience Store you are going to find anywhere in NYC.  The Trinity on 41st St. is nice… but where is their fish wrapped in saran wrap?  Where’s their konnyaku by the lb. buffet?  No chance of Webster popping out of the ordering window at Yagura, that’s for sure!  Nope.  For all that, you’ll have to go to 47th St.

THE +

  • The most authentic Japanese Convenience Store in Midtown
  • Perfect place for anyone who likes Japanese bentos, and doesn‘t necessarily care about knowing exactly what they’re eating!
  • In addition to pre made bentos, they have a menu of rice bowls & noodle soups that are made fresh to order
  • They have Takoyaki!  (Although not every day, so don’t blame me if it’s not there on the day you go!  And don’t expect it to be as good as Otafuku or I’m sure you’ll be disappointed.)
  • It’s Japanese Fun!!! (Especially for those who work too far north to venture to 41st. St.)

THE -

  • The place is small, and their selection is not huge.  Get there too late, and alot of things might be gone.  The third time I visited, it was almost 1:30pm.  There was no Takoyaki, no little by the lb. snackies, and the selection of bentos was pretty depleted.
  • The 47th St. Japanese Convenience Store is made for Japanese people, by Japanese people.  It’s not for Americans, and their English is not the best, so if you are squeamish about eating things that you don’t necessarily know what they are- you might not be into this place.
  • Half the food is pre-packaged, and needs to be heated in the microwave to warm it up
  • The prices are a little more expensive then Yagura & Cafe Zaiya

47th St. Japanese Convenience Store & Deli, 143 E. 47th St. (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-813-0675

21 Comments

  • I walked by this place for the first last Friday, I usually walk up and down 48th/49th when passing between 3rd and Lex. It’s very bizarre to see “Japanese” and “Convenience Store” mashed together. When I think of Japanese – I don’t really want it to be convenient. Does that mean it’s not fresh? Anyways… I was shocked to see it there. My curiousity did not draw me inside as I was late to meet a friend before her venture to Spain – so I’m happy to see it has made it on to ML. Not sure you’ve convienced me to venture inside (especially when you say it’s more expensive than Yagura). I guess everything deserves a one time shot in my book. Will have to hit it up sometime this week and test out the convenient waters.

  • I know this isn’t the Midtown Literary Review, but I also want to point out that dumbwaiter are very cool for those of us who grew up reading the book Harriet the Spy! Thanks for all of your great reviews!

  • Sugoi!

  • If the fish wasn’t fresh the dreaded food taliban(DOH) would of sent in it’s yellow poster armed sp.ops. team.

  • I passed this on my way to work and almost emailed you, but I felt like I should actually try it before giving it an endorsement of sorts… unfortunately it is pretty far from my office.

    Mmm, fish wrapped in saran wrap… anyone else getting hungry?

  • Ma’am and I are really eggcited to try this place!

  • What’s in a Japanese meatball??

  • Pork! (or is it) Pork? Either way it was porktastic

  • zach, can i just say you have the EXACT same food tastes as me? or is it that i am the copycat?
    i feel like you’re my long lost lunch buddy. also makes me think that the people are a lot more similar than we think! i’m probably the exact opposite of what you look like but i love all the food you love. thanks for your good work!!

  • And my obsession with cooking prevails… “Niku Dango” (aka Japanese meatballs) typically consist of ground pork, finely chopped leeks, sake, salt, egg and cornsflour. Glazes vary. Found a soy sauce one that sounded damn good. We may be doing a little Japanese meatballing in the ol’ kicthen tonight. Thanks for the inspiration Zach :)

  • (Check my new blog/link above!) Ooh… sounds interesting. Are those quail eggs next to the onigiri? I’ve never had one (that I recall)… interesting. Popular bento item, especially molded into cute shapes. Now, question, are there any actual non-food-stuffs that they sell there? Like, hmm… you know, plastic containers or errr… stuff…? Just curious :)

  • Group hug

  • I wished I worked in midtown.

  • Ooh, they have omurice (ketchup rice omelet)! If anyone’s tried it from here yet, is it vegetarian, or does it have chicken in it?

  • I went today and was pleasantly surprised with their cod roe onigiri. I’ve had the spicy cod roe ones from Zaiya called Mentaiko, which is more like a paste–it’s a favorite. But when I tried the Tarako (as you suggested), it tasted like fresh (or fresher) cod roe. Much less fishy flavor and more eggy. Yum!

  • I stopped by yesterday around 2:30 and they still had alot of bentos. I might be heading back there today to see what they have. Hopefully they’d have omurice which I saw yesterday..mmm..

  • Yup! That’s how they do it in Japanese Convenience Stores – they will heat your bento in the microwave if you so want! Really cool to see a place like this exists – too bad when I have to go to the city office it’s just outside Penn and not closer to this lil gem!

  • I got the pork cutlet over curry rice, sauce was quite flavorful with a good kick, I’d get it again. Want to try the soba next.

    It looks like you need to add the latest entries to the restaurant index.

  • um, am i the only one who noticed the sign says “47st St. Japanese Convenience Store & Deli”, that is “47st”, not “47th”? or am i the only one douchey enough to point it out?

    I think this is a brilliant marketing maneuver, and i’m a little disappointed midtown lunch won’t call this delicious shop by its correct title.

  • Anyone else tried the place upstairs, Amakusa? I went there last night and got totally ripped off. They charged me $13.50 for 2 chicken skewers and $8.50 for a mug of Kirin draft! Thought the price listed for the skewers was per order, not per skewer; and the beer wasn’t on the menu. Grrrrrrr…

    Food was OK, but not at that price. Stick with the convenience store. Their bento is great AND reasonably priced.

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