Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Yummy, Dirty Japanese
One of my favorite spots to eat good, cheap food and drink good, moderately-priced sake is Kenka, located on St. Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (underneath Search and Destroy). You kinda can't miss it, with its confusing Japanese awning and the giant, fibreglass 'mystery mongrel' figurine posing for pics in the front. As a creature of habit, I tend to order the same thing every time I go, not because it's the only good thing on the menu, but because I'm a little afraid of the meat there. They have all kinds of traditional meat dishes, fried mystery fish, frog, testicles, you name it. Plus, the place is kinda dirty. There's a no-vomiting policy listed on the menu. I think I'm just gonna go ahead and pass on that. I'm generally not a big fan of 'food-adventure' when there's meat involved anyway. I'll try any fruit or vegetable you put in front of me, but I just choose to follow my instincts/anticipated gag reflex when venturing out into meatfood I've never eaten before.
At Kenka, I always start with sake - any sake, dry, cold, hot, unfiltered, whatever. I'm an equal opportunity sake person. Gimme the sake. Then I get the stir-fried mixed vegetables, the age dashi tofu and the miso rice balls. The vegetables are a no-brainer. Onions, scallions, cabbage and carrots, stir fried with sesame seasoning. Slightly greasy and delicious. Nom. The age dashi tofu is decent here, safely meat-free, except for the bonito flakes they use on top. It kind of tastes like the bottom of a new sneaker, but in a good way, if that makes any sense. Fried tofu has such a strange texture but I can't get enough for some reason. The miso rice balls are great for sharing because they're served as a pair, a pair of balls, grilled and crunchy, hot, salty and fantastic. I also think it's important to mention the REAL reason I like Kenka: when they bring you the check, they give each diner/embiber a tiny medicine cup with a half teaspoon of cotton candy sugar, with which you can make your own cotton candy on your way out! Fer serious.
Go after 5 on an early weekday or wait like a dog. A hungry, sober dog.