1/2 Sometimes addictions creep up on you. I was initially attracted to Cafe Zaiya as a lunchtime destination at my new midtown job. It's bright, shiny, bustling, and heck there's a Beard Papa stand inside. But a few storefronts closer to me is no frills Yagura. There's a small Japanese grocery store in back, sparse, elevated seating to your immediate right, then the main event to your left, a bustling counter with perpetual lines.
Katsu, teriyaki, noodle soups…I'm not sure what the main draw is, but I always stick with the $4.50 chicken udon and have never been disappointed. Initially, it seemed straightforward, nothing special, but now I'll find myself thinking about it and looking forward to running across the street for a fix. The broth helps, it's very rich and flavorful (is that dashi?) and the noodles are thick and perfectly chewy. The chicken, usually five large chunks or so, has the skin on, making the whole bowl of soup tasty and probably too fatty for some. The best is when you get pieces where the skin is still crispy, the meat seems more fried or broiled than stewed, and maybe that's the secret.
Yagura* 41st St., New York, NY