Tiny, cramped, and lively, this subterranean East Village eatery serves affordable Japanese fare in a no-frills dining room. Inside, the space contains little more than a handful of tables and a long wooden counter facing an open grill, where the chefs prepare the house specialty: yakitori (grilled skewers) made with everything from chicken skin and gizzards to shrimp and shitake mushrooms. In addition, the menu includes traditional snacks, such as grilled rice balls filled with spicy cod roe, and heartier options like soft shell crab with chili sauce. Pitchers of Kirin and Sapporo pair well with the salty small plates.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.