Cool Japanese Spots in NYC

Grandlife guide

Cool Japanese Spots in NYC

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Newsflash: Japan recently reopened its borders to tourists, but flight prices to get there aren’t so friendly. The good news? There are many options all over NYC for one to have an “am-I-in-Japan-or-am-I-dreaming? experience. It’s no secret that NYC is home to a good amount of sushi joints, noodle shops, and izakayas—just Google the East Village’s Little Tokyo—but we’re here to highlight other Japanese gems. Read on to learn about our top picks, from a hole-in-the-wall that serves up perhaps the best matcha below 14th Street to a Brooklyn vintage shop that packs an exhaustive collection of sartorial-slaying duds from big-name Japanese brands. Your next trip to Tokyo just might be a few subway stops away. 

 

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Face Records NYC

For undoubtedly the best place in the States to find rare, second-hand vinyl records from Japan, head to Face Records NYC. Face Records set up shop in Tokyo in the mid-nineties, and their first and only international outpost finally opened its Brooklyn doors in 2018. Once inside this stylish, teeny-tiny spot, you’ll discover hundreds of meticulously organized records. The inventory heavily consists of City Pop (Japanese pop music that peaked in the ’80s) from the genre’s biggest names like Tatsuro Yamashita, Takeuchi Mariya, and Tomoko Aran, but you’ll also find techno, jazz-funk, rock, hip-hop, ambient, and more. Dig around and you may even across tunes from Japanese video games. Face Records NYC is also home to a small selection of CDs, cool merchandise (totes, stickers), and—serious collectors, take note!—an impressive stock of Japanese-pressed records by global stars like Madonna, David Bowie, and Bob Marley. 

176 Borinquen Pl Store 1L, Brooklyn; 917-909-1902

Tokuyamatcha & Onigirazu Bar

Alphabet City locals in-the-know are particularly fond of this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joint tucked away on a residential block and owned by the folks at Tokuyama Salon. Inside the long and narrow space, matcha is served in many forms. For those wishing to jazz up their traditional matcha orders, try an iced calpico matcha latte or a blue moon matcha with butterfly pea flower tea. The onigirazu (nori-wrapped rice ball sandwiches) section of the menu is somehow even more extensive than the many matcha offerings. Craving something savory and seriously substantial? Then consider ordering the Japanese fried chicken onigirazu with spicy garlic chili sauce… or really go for it and get the aloha spam pnigirazu with a fried egg—both come with Japanese mayonnaise, by the way, which is inarguably the best mayo on the planet. There are vegan varieties, too, though avocado lovers should order the vegan salad onigirazu made with brown rice, lettuce, and a vegan miso-mayo. The menu also includes bento boxes, rice bowls, miso soup, edamame, and pastries. The only seating option is a sidewalk table which will certainly be occupied on weekends, so bring your order to the dreamy community garden across the street, or to Tompkins Square Park a couple of blocks away. 

627 East 6th St, New York; T. 212-388-1276

 

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Kida NYC 

There’s something truly special about Nolita’s KIDA NYC. It’s both a laidback, reasonably-priced barber shop (hair cuts, portion cuts, buzz cuts, and razor beard trims are all on offer) and a fancy full-service hair salon (cuts, color, blowouts, scalp massages). Situated on the corner of Broome and Mott and housed in an intimate, rustic-hip (exposed brick walls, wood furnishings, a plethora of leafy plants) space, husband-and-wife team Shinnosuke and Megumi Kida opened KIDA’s doors in 2014. Trust the glowing Google and Yelp reviews, book an appointment, enjoy the warm service and atmosphere, and feel free to thank us later. 

369 Broome St, New York; T. 212-219-0246

 

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Kinokuniya Bookstore

Located directly across the street from Bryant Park is the sublimely-stocked Kinokuniya Bookstore. Reading materials on the first floor are in English, but make your way to the sprawling lower level for Japanese books, magazines, manga, graphic novels, stationery, office supplies, anime goods and toys. Whether you’re looking for the latest issue of Vogue Japan and/or you want to spend an afternoon combing the packed manga shelves whilst sipping a coffee from the in-store café, Kinokuniya is the dream-like place to be. 

1073 6th Ave, New York; T. 212-869-1700

Reiwatakiya 

Wanna feel like you’ve just entered an extremely kawaii beauty and skincare shop on Harajuku’s Takeshita street? Then make your way down to St. Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues and look for Reiwatakiya—it’s hard to miss its Baby Spice pink storefront. Once inside, expect to hear J-pop blaring and see brightly-lit aisles brimming with an extensive array of makeup and skincare products from J-beauty brands like Hado Labo, Kikumasamune, and Canmake. Reiwatakiya, which opened in 2019, also stocks household items, snacks, fun accessories, and gifts, like spa headbands with fuzzy cat ears and Takashi Murakami flower pillows. 

37 St Marks Pl, New York; T. 917-265-8975

 

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About Glamour 

Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto are just some of the big-name labels you’ll find at this quirky Williamsburg vintage shop. At About Glamour, which opened in 2003, head-turning garments artfully hang on rods suspended from the ceiling, and the work of local and international artists is often exhibited on the walls. Are you looking for a Vivienne Westwood handkerchief or vintage suspenders from Tokyo? Kitschy glassware or adorable stationery? About Glamour has got you covered—and it’s open every day. 

310 Grand St, Brooklyn; T. 718-599-3044

 

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Sunrise Mart 

This beloved (and perpetually bustling) Japanese grocer’s SoHo location is bright and airy, and its aisles are packed with a slew of essentials. Expect to find an abundance of Japanese pantry staples: seasonings, sauces, rice and noodles, packaged goods (curry, miso soup), teas, matcha powder, etcetera. Sunrise Mart is equally ideal for fresh foods including tofu, shabu-shabu beef, Japanese fruits and veggies such as nashi (Japanese pear) and kabocha (winter squash), and seafood, including octopus tentacles and Tobiko (red flying fish roe). 

For some delightful konbini (Japanese convenience store) vibes, explore the beverage aisle. Tip: stop wasting six bucks on a single cold brew, and stock up on Japan’s excellent canned coffees as well as teas, beers, and soft drinks. There’s something savory or sweet to satisfy all tastebuds in the snacks department, from umeboshi-flavored potato chips and wasabi sesame crackers to matcha Kit Kat bars and lychee gummy candies. Sunrise Mart also carries a small selection of J-beauty skincare products, from milky toners to sunscreens. For those looking for a quick, inexpensive lunch post-Soho shopping spree, Sunrise’s kitchen serves yummy bento boxes, soba noodles, and more.  

494 Broome St, New York; T. 212-219-0033

WORDS Alex Catarinella

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