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Inakaya, Roppongi-Based Japanese Featuring Robata-Yaki at 40th and 8th in Times Square


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This has become a regular stop for us in NYC, or at least on the last 4 visits. It is a branch of a chain of two restaurants in Roppongi executed in much the same style here though larger and with the addition of sushi.

Our visit last year happened to be when they were having a special event to introduce Ten Qoo farm raised bluefin tuna. The tuna then was amazing in quality and the special tuna cutting ceremony impressed our then 3 yr old daughter enough that this is now her favorite restaurant. The other theatre that they do is a nightly mochi pounding though usually too late for our kids' bedtimes.

The main theatrical element of Inakaya is the chefs cook in front of you and serve the food and drinks directly at the counter on long paddles.

One warning about Inakaya is that the prices of the a la carte menu are comparable or even more expensive than Tokyo prices, especially for many of the fish offerings. The saving grace is that they have several set menu offerings which moderate the pricing and provide a good variety of foods.

Set menus come with a variety of kushi yaki and a main course of some other kushi yaki, sushi or fish.

Kushi yaki we had included eringi and shitake mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, ginko nuts, potato, sato imo/Japanese sweet potato, chicken thigh, chicken meatballs (tsukune), okra, and beef. Nothing out of the ordinary. Also had sushi which was on par with table service at Sushi Taro and much better than sushi ko or Kaz, in my experience at those places. (Kaz is the most overrated sushi place in this city in my opinion). Pieces included were ama ebi, kanpachi, hamachi, salmon, unagi, and what I think was red snapper/tai. Since we were splitting it, I don't remember what some of the other pieces were that others ate. Last main course was the ubiquitous black cod with miso glaze which was very good and a nice size filet.

A la carte additions for the kids were grilled onigiri (rice balls) and an avocado roll. Have no idea how the avocado roll was since our 20 month old devoured it and wouldn't share.

Kushi is probably the closest comparison with regard to menu, though I've not been to Kushi in a while. The quality of the food is much better at Inakaya and what really sets it apart from Kushi is the service. Servers know how to serve and pace the meal here much better than Kushi ever has for us. Going with the set menus helps to keep the price down here as well.

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