BEST OF
The Four Best Japanese Cooking Channels on YouTube

We all get hooked on something from time to time, whether it be chain-watching television shows on Netflix or taking those trending Buzzfeed quizzes. For us right now, it's marathoning Japanese cooking shows on YouTube. Why? We're not quite sure, but be warned: once you start, you may not be able to stop. Here's a roundup of the four best Japanese cooking channels we've encountered thus far (in no particular order).

Ochikeron fits into our "adorable" category. She's gorgeous, makes awesome looking food, and occasionally films a how-to on making an unbearably cute bento box for lunch. Not to mention, she ends each video with a lilting "And now it's done!" that never gets old. Though her video for Kabocha (Pumpkin) Miso Soup makes our mouths water, we decided to include one of her bento tutorials below (for a Despicable Me lunch).

CHEAP EATS
Cocoron

Eating soba is an art in itself. It’s not complicated, but certain measures should be taken to ensure the best experience.

Soba — literally translating into buckwheat in Japanese — is often served chilled with a dipping sauce, because unlike other noodles, soaking soba in hot soup will change the noodles’ consistency. But that doesn’t mean that soba can’t be served in hot broth.

Tucked in the Lower East Side, Cocoron aims to offer healthy Japanese home cooking that will lift your spirits, inducing the “heartwarming” feeling that its name translates into. The space is small and the tables are packed closely together — typical of Manhattan restaurants — but the dark walls create a calm, comfortable ambiance.

DAILY BITES
Ramen Takumi

Ramen Takumi’s new location on 1 University Place boasts a loftier expanse, but its food still retains its original quality. Japanese chefs wearing printed round hats bustle around behind the counter while the young waiters and waitresses work the floor.

The menu offers a selection of Asian appetizers such as oshinko (Japanese pickled vegetables), edamame and shumai (dumplings with the option of pork or shrimp), and entrees consisting noodles and rice. This is also a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, with specially-catered ramen to suit the customers’ preferences.

You know a good dumpling on the first bite. The pork shumai encompasses the quintessential shumai at most Asian restaurants. The thin layer of unleavened dough shells tender, scrumptious pork that splits at the pressure of your chopsticks. The scallions resemble little green halos over this heavenly appetizer.

DAILY BITES
First Course: Tofu with Three Salts at Ootoya

When looking over a menu, there are often a few things that catch our eye: the familiar, the strange, and perhaps a new dish with some of my favorite ingredients. Often after agonizing decision making, we'll veer towards the familiar or the favorites, not wanting to risk a bad meal on a night out.

This past Saturday, however, we went to dinner at Ootoya in Chelsea, and a dish on the appetizer list sounded too interesting to pass up:

"Homemade Tofu with World Selected Salt"

Yes, we have plenty of salt and tofu at home, but words like "homemade" and "world' stand out; we needed to get my chopsticks on this starter.

CHEAP EATS
Glaze Teriyaki Welcomed to Union Square

The end of August marked a great occasion for the Glaze Teriyaki chain. Hailing from Seattle, Glaze Teriyaki showcases delectable Japanese/Korean street food to metropolitan areas. Glaze Teriyaki opened its first restaurant in Midtown East in New York in 2010, and after much success, the branch has expanded to Union Square.

Owner Paul Krug and Chef Dennis Lake joined forces to open this second location downtown. The menu at the Union Square location remains the same as its Midtown sister, and trust us, this is a good thing. The simple menu consists of traditional teriyaki plates, where you can choose from chargrilled chicken thigh or breast, Japanese bbq hangar steak, organic salmon, pork loin, wok vegetables, or soy maritnated tofu as your main entree. Served over a bed of short grain white or brown rice, along with a side salad, the dish is a steal, with prices from $6.75-$9.50. The dish comes with so much food, it's enough for two meals. Pair with it some side dishes and you'll leave a happy customer. Sides range from $3-$5 with options like edamame, cold sesame soba noodles, shishito peppers cucumber salad, crispy gyoza, and spicy Asian bbq pickles. Chef Dennis Lake is passionate about the Glaze Teriyaki franchise and sure knows how to whip up some good grub. Another plus of dining at Glaze Teriyaki, besides the fact that it's quick and affordable, is that the restaurant is dedicated to using all natural proteins and local products whenever possible.

RESTAURANT 101
Souen Soho: Asian Food and Earthy Grains

From the outside, Souen Soho appears quite subtle, nestled into a small area at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Prince Street with bicycles parked all around the ramps. Inside, however, the restaurant feels very roomy, even being furnished with such small tables. The best place to sit is in the back towards MacDougal Street, as it offers a peaceful view of neighborhood apartments, rather than the passing traffic on Prince Street or Sixth Avenue. Once seated, the many potted plants and vines placed around the restaurant present an earthy feel even within the Downtown Manhattan setting.