Archive for '41st btw. 5+Mad'

Sunrise Mart Bento Boxes Aren’t Bad for the Price

A few weeks ago, I noticed a coworker eating a lovely-looking Japanese style Katsu pork curry at his desk. I thought he might have gone to one of my favorites, Go! Go! Curry, but it’s a bit of a jaunt from our office. He had gotten it at “one of those Japanese places” across from the NY Public Library. Cafe Zaiya and Yagura have been around forever, but Sunrise Mart (41st btw. 5th + Madison) was most intriguing to me so I made a note to come back.

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Sunrise Mart Makes a Pretty Good Sandwich


I’ll admit, that when I first heard that Sunrise Mart was coming to Midtown, I was excited more for the grocery options than for the lunch items. I’d always loved the selection of hard to find Japanese ingredients at the East Village location and was psyched to have them so close to the office. Jeremiah’s opening report and later Donny’s review of the Oyakodon got my attention, so when I stopped in a couple weeks ago to do a little shopping, I was sure to scope out the rest of the menu.

With all the great Japanese food on the menu, what surprised me was how many interesting sandwiches were available. I decided to take a closer look and sample a few of them. Check them out after the jump.

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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.
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Sunrise Mart Coming Soon to (Where Else?) 41st

Sunrise Mart 41st & 5th Ave

Thanks to Luncher “Donny” for this great tip and photo. The Japanese East Village supermarket Sunrise Mart will be opening up a new location in the old Book Off space on 41st btw. Mad+5th- just west of Mai Cuisine and Cafe Zaiya. In other words the famous “Japanese Trinity” on 41st is about to become a foursome. I’ve wandered the aisles of the East Village location many times picking up cool and interesting ingredients to cook with, but I hear there are also some lunch-able snacks there as well. Any Sunrise Mart fans out there? What are we in for?

Chiyoda Sushi Closes to Make Way For Mai Cuisine

Thanks to everyone who tipped us off to this one (including this post in the forums.)  Chiyoda Sushi, the upscale portion of the Japanese holy trinity on 41st btw. Mad+5th (along with Cafe Zaiya & Yagura), has closed.  As of Friday there were some serious renovations going on, and a letter posted on the door said that the restaurant will reopen as Mai Cuisine on September 2nd, “providing all-natural sushi and Japanese cuisine, with the highest quality ingredients.” Uh… sounds a lot like Chiyoda if you ask us!

Find out what’s not on the sign after the jump.

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Cafe Zaiya Introduces New Summer Menu Items

Variety has always been the greatest strength of Cafe Zaiya, the popular Japanese lunch spot and bakery on 41st (btw. 5th and Madison). On a recent trip, I noticed their offerings have gotten even more varied with the introduction of some new Summer lunch items, including cold noodles. See their new menu and get a look at one of the new dishes after the jump.

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A Food Porn Guide to Navigating Your Way Through Cafe Zaiya

Is it possible to love something so much, you end up kind of hating it? That might be the way I feel about Cafe Zaiya. Yes, I’m talking about that Cafe Zaiya (on 41st. btw. Mad+5th), the Japanese fast food place that specializes in bento boxes and rice balls and amazing Japanese baked goods. The place that won best Japanese Fast Food in the Midtown Lunch Readers’ poll. That Cafe Zaiya. The simple fact is, I will step foot in that place and not be able to decide what to get. Everything just looks so damn good. In fact, there have been times where I have spent 15 minutes looking, browsing, picking something up, putting it down, picking another thing up, waiting in line for a baked good, get out of line, contemplate the sushi, put the thing I picked up down… and so forth… until I become so crazed, I just leave and eat somewhere else. I have no excuses. Love will sometimes do crazy things to a man.

What I’m saying is, I could never compile a post like this. It would require too many visits… choosing too many things… making too many decisions. I just don’t have that willpower. I would probably just end up buying one of those little fried chicken sandwiches and a rice ball every single time. Damn you Zaiya! Luckily, Kathy YL Chan, author of the blog A Passion for Food, and our resident Hawaiian food expert, doesn’t have my issues. And she was happy enough to put together this massive look at some of the best things Cafe Zaiya has to offer. Sure it’s nothing groundbreakingly new here on Midtown Lunch… but who would complain about looking at a ton of amazing food porn from one of the best lunch places in Midtown.

Cafe Zaiya, Midtown, NYC

Of all the places to eat lunch in Midtown, Café Zaiya is my safe haven. Reliable, cheap, and most importantly, very tasty. Most days I veer straight towards the bakery counter and select two baked goods. That fills you up just about right for less than $5. You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.

The café is divided into five major sections. The bakery area on the left side of the shop, bento and sandwiches in the middle, a hot food station in the back, a cold food area to the right (sushi, salads, and cold sandwiches) and Bead Papa’s upfront. I find the hot food at Zaiya to be simply passable and nothing more. Same goes for the sushi. Divert your attention to the bakery.

Here you’ll find wonders (most priced under $2) of the sweet and savory sort, either baked, steamed, or deep fried. Below are a few of my favorites.

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Burger King Being Replaced by Burger 41


It’s been four months since the last new burger place opened in Midtown (crazy, right?) so you knew just by the law of averages we were due.  The winner… Burger 41, which appears to be taking over the Burger King that used to be across from Cafe Zaiya on 41st btw. Mad+5th.  What you see on their very Burger King’ish sign is all I know about this place, and from the look of the inside we’re still a ways away (unless they plan on keeping the Burger King menu, and set up.)

The Burger King graveyard, after the jump… Read more »

Tuesday is the last day for Special Japanese Sweets at Cafe Zaiya

Thanks to Feisty Foodie & Cheap Ass Food I was tipped off to this pretty cool thing happening at Cafe Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th). For the past week, they have replaced their Beard Papa station with the NYC debut of “New Matsue Kashi” a very beautiful (and delicious) form of Wagashi, Japanese sweets made from mochi, bean paste and fruit. And for those who like to limit their fat intake (present company excluded obviously), they don’t contain any animal fat, making them low in calories and cholesterol.

The wagashi range in price from $1.75 to $3.50 each, and come in different flavors and shapes (including pumpkin, blueberry, mango and chestnut). Similar sweets can be purchased at Minamoto Kitchoan (on 49th btw. 5+6th), but at Cafe Zaiya you can actually watch them being made (and I’m guessing they’re cheaper).

Tomorrow is the last day they will be available at Cafe Zaiya (and they close at 8pm). More photos, after the jump… Read more »

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… Read more »