Saturday, March 29, 2008

That Japanese Place by the Other Japanese Place by the Library...

Despite having passed this storefront dozens of times, I've never known what this great Japanese to-go spot was called until just the other day. I've always just called it the "other Japanese place," that is next to Cafe Zaiya (both of which are half a block from the NY Public Library, Bryant Park). Zaiya is always so much more packed than this place so I've always assumed that it wasn't as good. Wrong assumption! Chiyoda is great -- and could arguably be better! There are some very nice, different options. And the fact that there's actually space to walk around inside makes it even more appealing!

For starters, the Boiled Tofu. Despite the incredibly bland name, this is a deliciously tasty and healthy salad of firm tofu, hijiki, edamame, carrots and some other unidentifiable vegetable -- maybe seaweed? It's seasoned with sesame oil and I assume soy sauce. The hijiki and edamame lend some sweetness to it.

They have "Triangles" here too (just like Zaiya)! The above Triangle, or "Onigiri" is filled with salted salmon -- cooked, not raw). Sticky rice is shaped into a triangle and the whole thing comes wrapped in dry seaweed. Pretty good and you feel really healthy eating it.

Here's what it looks like with the packaging on (more triangular...).

Another Triangle: this is called Hijiki Onigiri. I was intrigued when I first saw this special-looking Triangle. They always look like the salmon one above with the plastic wrapping; but really it's basically sticky rice shaped like a triangle. I let the shape fool me into thinking there might be something hidden inside like the Salmon Onigiri. But alas, no. It wasn't bad though, just kind of plain.

Grand Finale: Shrimp Dumplings! Japanese shrimp dumplings are pretty much like Chinese siu mai, but not as good in my opinion. Overall, I have to say that I prefer any kind of Chinese dumpling to a Japanese dumpling (whether it's shrimp or 'gyoza.'). However, as a lover of all dumplings, if I see them, I get them. These were refrigerated, so they were pretty cold. They were tasty, larger than normal -- a plus, but kind of mushy. The shrimp on top added some nice texture and flavor, though.

So, overall Chiyoda is a solid choice. I've learned the whole 'don't judge a book by it's cover' lesson here... oh, and I think the reason why it seems less crowded is because there's a sit-down restaurant in the back (that looks packed).

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