Iroha Japanese Restaurant
152 W 49th St (6th & 7th Ave)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 398-9049
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: West 40s
In Times Square, and with about an hour to kill, I followed the crowd into a Japanese spot on West 49th Street called Iroha.
It was here where I met a man named Yoshida, and his lovely wife, sitting at the bar with a large plate of sushi for sharing. The couple was visiting from Michigan, although I couldn't help but feel that I was the tourist as Yoshida talked about his trips to Japan in between sips of Sochu, a Japanese liquor made from potatoes similar to vodka. Sochu... good... Yoshida said... sake... too sweet. He had a passion for Japanese food, and gave the fish at Iroha pretty high marks.
At this point my first dish had arrived; a yellowtail roll. The tuna was nice and fatty and went perfectly with a mug of ice cold Sapporo. After all, it was Friday, and like the rest of New York, I needed to let loose a bit and an ice cold beer (or two) was just what the doctor ordered. Next up was Yakatori, traditional skewers of various meats and fish. I ordered three in the $3-$5 range; duck, chicken thigh (with skin) and grilled scallop. Yoshida recommended I give each a splash of fresh lemon and sprinkle them with a special blend of Japanese spices and black sesame seeds that is served tableside.
The scallop was not an Americanized variety. You could tell this one had just been plucked from the shell. It was fresh and briny with parts of the scallop still attached that I had never eaten before. It was very good and gone in a flash. The chicken skewer also got high marks. The dark meat was nice and crispy on the outside with a juicy center. But my favorite was the duck charred around the edges. It made for the perfect bite. The skewers are small and you may need four or five to make it into a light meal.
By now I was in need of a second beer as I waited for my next dish to arrive. It was baby clams served in a garlicky broth with finely chopped green onion. The clams were small but meaty. Some I picked up with chop sticks and popped into my mouth after giving them a splash in the broth, while others I scooped up with a shell brimming with broth. “That’s how the Japanese eat it,” Yoshida remarked. Feeling quite satisfied, and my hour almost up, I skipped dessert although I did find the “green tea” crepe cake an interesting choice. Maybe during a future visit.
I would definitely return to Iroha. Where else could you find top notch food, a friendly and accommodating staff, while meeting interesting new friends like Yoshida.
Review By: Thomas Rafael