Sunrise Mart is Open and Wonderful

The new Sunrise Mart location (41st btw. Madison+5th) is open, and not only is it a Japanese grocery store, it’s also a fully functioning restaurant. Sunrise is a worthy addition to the Japanese Trinity of Cafe Zaiya, Yagura and Mai Cuisine (I guess now it’s a tetrad or a quadrumvirate). Sunrise’s unique combination of a full store and a full restaurant make it one of a kind (in Midtown). Get a look at what they have to offer after the jump.

The hot food counter (on the right behind the baked good counter) is where most Lunch’ers will want to focus. The chalkboards above offer many options that the men behind the counter will serve up, including donburi curry over rice ($6.50) with a choice of proteins, udon or soba noodles in various preparations ($5.50-6.50), tonjiru (a Japanese miso soup with pork, $5.50) and yakisoba ($6.75) with pork, shrimp or lamb(?!?). There are also bento boxes, salads, bi bim bop stored cold and an assortment of onigiri.

I settled on the pork yakisoba ($6.75) for my lunch. I’d never had yakisoba, so I was pretty excited to try something new. Cabbage, green peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, onions and pork get fried on the flattop. Egg noodles are added followed by a healthy dose of yakisoba sauce (a Japanese variant of Worcestershire). Once that’s all packed into a plastic tray, it’s topped off by aonori (seaweed powder) and katsuobushi (paper-thin strips of dried fish), which curl upon making contact with the moist entrée, momentarily making the dish look alive. A small lump of beni shoga (red pickled ginger) is placed in the corner.

The yakisoba was very good. The pork was fatty and delicious. The noodles were good though I’d have liked them just a touch firmer. The vegetables add a crunchy texture. The yakisoba sauce offers a subtle Worcestershire flavor while the dried fish tack on a bit more saltiness and give the dish an exotic quality. The red pickled ginger is spicier and more ginger-y than what comes with sushi (gari). All in all it wasn’t fantastic but it was a satisfying and filling lunch and it was different enough that I felt like I was broadening my horizons. I’m eager to try out some of Sunrise’s offerings, and that’s where this place really separates itself. There is so much stuff to try here.

I couldn’t resist grabbing a salmon onigiri ($1.49). They’re made a little different than at Zaiya and Mai. They’re more rounded than triangular and chunks of salmon are distributed throughout the whole thing rather than just in the center. Plus the rice and seaweed were a bit more moist than I’m used to. Sunrise isn’t going to replace Zaiya as my go-to onigiri place, but it was still a great way to end my lunch.

In addition to all the items I mentioned above, the bakery counter features pastries, tarts, cakes and some savory items. This is also where you’ll find pre-made sandwiches. The chocolate chip covered melon pan above looked pretty delicious.

As did this colorful raspberry almond cake.

Beyond the service counters is Sunrise’s grocery store, which has a selection to rival places downtown with a whole lot more space. I’ve never seen anything like this in Midtown.

Sushi rolls are in the cooler towards the front. There’s a full selection of iced teas, iced coffees and other drinks here.

There are cold prepared foods against the back wall which might make a nice addition to a lunch here. Just a few I remember are sliced squid, crab meat salad, some sort of mushroom dish and spicy blue crabs, which appear to be fully intact in their little plastic cages.

There are also all the snacks, chips and candy you’d imagine. Big tubs of kim chee. And all sorts of provisions you can take home to cook dinner with.

When you’re done browsing, you can take your purchases upstairs to a pretty sizable seating area with a microwave.

Sunrise is exactly the kind of place that makes me grateful I work in Midtown, and that makes me shake my head whenever I see someone lugging a Subway bag back to their office. If you’re a fan of this kind of lunchtime adventuring, then Sunrise is definitely worth a try. The great thing about the Japanese Trinity is that they all have their own identity that makes them relevant even though they are so close to each other. Sunrise is no different. I think we officially have a Japanese Tetrad on our hands (or some other word that means four of something).

Sunrise Mart, 12 E. 41st (btw. Madison+5th)


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