Not your cup of tea? Check out Sakaya, the only shop in NYC devoted to sake, located at 324 E 9th St. You can enjoy over 150 kinds of premium sake, which calls for a rigid set of production standards. Each sake is made by artisanal producers with prices ranging from $20 to $160 per bottle.
Nothing is as fun or will bring out your inner child like Toy Tokyo at 91 2nd Ave. With everything from Hello Kitty to sticker books and bobble heads in stock, it’s a toy-lover’s heaven. There are thousands of figurines, many of which are extremely rare to find outside of Japan. For serious collectors there are plenty of aisles filled with all types of action figures, from Marvel superheroes to Godzilla. You can even find novelty figures, like Benjamin Franklin and Jack Nicholson from The Shining.
One of my favorite discoveries was Giant Robot on 437 E. 9th St. This store is the sole East Coast location of the trendy West Coast Asian American Pop Culture chain. Some of the more popular Japanese toys that I loved, include Murakami gear and Gotochi Dissection animals. There are all sorts of fabulous surprises for kids and adults alike throughout the store.
Of course I couldn’t leave without checking out the food! You can find an amazing assortment of Japanese “street food” which ranges from elaborate sushi boats to delicious home-made ramen and soba noodles.
Here are some more fabulous Japanese restaurants you should check out:
Robataya located at 231 E 9th St: The chefs here put on a show grilling fresh fish and vegetables right in front of customers and then serve them on long trays.
Ramen Setagaya at 141 1ST Ave: Try the Shio ramen made from BBQ pork, salt taste egg, seaweed, bamboo shoot, leek and scallop powder. This ramen is made from scratch and it’s delicious!
Hasaki at 210 E 9th St: Traditional and well-prepared dishes along with some excellent sushi.
Soba-Ya located at 229 E 9th St: You can actually watch the soba noodles being made. Both the tempura and soba are fabulous!