Yagura is My Current Favorite Place for Value Grub
Yagura (41st btw. Mad+5th) is the most unassuming Japanese grocer in the 41st street
trinity tetrad, once called the “ugly duckling” of the group by Donny. It’s true, there is no fancy sign to herald its existence. In fact, I had to double check with the staff that it was, in fact, Yagura. It’s a favorite in my office for its value.
And I agree with my coworkers. This is the kind of place I would go every single day if the onus wasn’t upon me to write about lunches in Midtown. Sure, the place doesn’t look quite as fancy as the other grocers, and the customer service is definitely lacking. But that’s part of what I love about it. Recently I’ve been into the bowls (donburi, or don for short) from the picture menu.
The beef don (Gyudon) is beef with onion over rice with some strips of pickled, salty ginger. The ginger works very well with the slightly sweet flavor of the thinly sliced beef. There are enough juices from the beef to make the rice most enough to eat alone. There is a very large portion of meat for the price — with tax it’s $6.52.
The oyakadon serves up two generations of chicken in one bowl. It’s an omelet with dark chicken pieces, onion, and a few slices of bright yellow pickled turnip. And you have to appreciate the plastic green grass on the side! The omelet was quite salty and tasty, and the chicken was very tender. There was a little less meat than in the beef, but the overall egg+chicken volume was about the same.
And I’m not sure why French cream puffs (Shu Cream in Japan or as Yagura Calls them, Chou a la creme) became so popular in Japan… does anyone know the history? I can see why they are so popular, these things are really fucking amazing. The custard/cream inside is beautfully thick and a little cold — like a rich whipped cream. The somewhat crispy but soft puff is covered in powdered sugar. The dessert is rich but not overwhelmingly sweet. They also serve a pastry with red bean.
Who has eaten at Yagura, and what do you recommend?
Yagura Japanese Grocery, 24 E 41st St. (btw. Mad+5th), 212-679-3777