- scene: Light wood and white like a lot of Japanese places, but with tables fairly close to create a nice buzz; huge garage doors open in the summer
- sip: Sake, wine beer
- savor: spicy tuna on crunchy rice; shumai; black dynamite roll; sushi pieces
- sit: With the friends; with a date you are not embarrassed to be seen with; post-work dinner with co-worker
- spend: $$
- address: 185 Seventh Avenue (21st Street)
- phone number: 212-989-4466
- website: www.themomoya.com
As typical as it sounds, Momoya is the perfect place for “sushi with my girls.” There is no bigger stereotype than a group of girlfriends meeting for some low fat food and juicy gossip, and due to its location and delicious options, Momoya tends to be our go-to spot. If your talk tends to get rawer than salmon sashimi, you might want to keep your voices hushed though, Momoya (Chelsea) is the sort of place where you are bound to run into someone you know. They don’t take reservations and there is no bar at which to eat, just a narrow entryway, so be strategic about when you arrive for dinner, wait times tend to get a little rough.
Momoya is a big step-up from a neighborhood sushi place- when it is on-point their offerings are pretty first rate. And although things tend to add up, they offer several lunch combinations that are great deals, from 12-$18. There are always fresh specials, like soft-shelled crab or yellow tail with jalapeno that are are done quite expertly, if not exactly Nobu. Although standard issue on the Left Coast, there are only a few places in NYC that make crispy rice with spicy tuna on top, one of my favorite dishes that I seek out in LA at Koi and Katana. Momoya’s version is pretty big, and is topped with not just a jalapeno but also some pickled mushrooms, that I remove just because I am a purist, even though they are quite tasty. This is a great dish to share and tends to become addicting. The shumai are different than a lot of places- they are large and feature a pattern of wide noodles covering it, not just the standard noodle blanket (see pic). The sushi at Momoya is very fresh and well handled- I am not sure if I would go all out and try new exotic things that you have never had before, but it can definitely be counted on for pure interpretations of your favorite fish. There tends to be a little bit more rice under the sushi than at the more authentic places like 15 East, but the cuts of the fish are clean and properly sized, unlike the giant slices at Japonica. (I am so over Japonica). If Momoya is not in your neighborhood (there is one on UWS also), it might make it an even better spot for some delish “dish” and fish with friends, because you won’t have to look over your shoulder.