Grab A Cafe Zaiya Bento, And Eat In The Park

I never remember at lunchtime that Cafe Zaiya has an outpost nestled — almost hidden, if you don’t know to seek it out — on the second floor of the Kinokuniya book store on the west side of Bryant Park. As a Japanese food lover, I should be there every day of the workweek! But, alas, my Midtown Lunch posts would become repetative. Point being, I don’t go often enough, but the other day — one of those nice ones that was sunny and in the 70s — I became inspired to grab a bento and eat in the park.

I chose what was described in English as “chicken tempura bowl with egg soboro and miso soup,” which anyone can see isn’t exactly an accurate description of this donburi. Looking at the Japanese, I was able to decipher that it’s actually chicken “karaage,” which is marinated fried chicken (completely different batter from tempura), and the Japanese also mentioned that the miso soup included Japanese pumpkin (noms!). The marinated, fried dark meat chicken was extremely juicy and tender. Although the coating was no longer crispy, it so flavorful that I didn’t mind. With just a hint of grease, these were quite the flavor-bomb.

The chicken sat with a small amount of Japanese pickles over egg soboro, which was basically some well-done scrambled eggs, and white rice. Don’t let the abundance of red pepper flakes scattered on top scare you away — they don’t carry much heat. As I mentioned before, the small-sized miso soup that came with the donburi included a handful of small pumpkin chunks — different from the standard tofu cubes you can get anywhere and much appreciated.

Overall, it’s a healthy portion of food that costs only $6.50, which leaves you with almost enough budget left over to grab a cream’wich, if you do decide to enjoy the your lunch in the park and can splurge the extra buck.

Cafe Zaiya, 1073 6th Avenue (btw 40th+41st streets, on the 2nd floor of the Kinokuniya bookstore)

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