I eat Japanese food with little frequency. That’s why when someone in the know invites me out, I can’t resist. A friend, Nao, had an impromptu birthday dinner at Natori, an unassuming two-sided restaurant on St. Marks that you might walk past without really noticing. There’s nothing flashy about it, very homey yet somehow naturally hip. But one of the chefs was friends with the birthday celebrant so we were treated to an omakase of sorts.
We, the ten eaters, put in a few requests from the menu, but much of it was a surprise. And the parade of dishes seemed never ending. By the time the chocolate cupcakes (inspired by a recipe from a drunken late-night viewing of America’s Test Kitchen after my birthday party) were presented, I was bursting at the seams.
burdock and hijiki/I was told a story about how American prisoners of war were fed gobo (burdock) and once freed complained about being made to eat bark and a Japanese soldier was executed specifically for this transgression. Burdock is tasty. I'd prefer to the sort of gruel I imagine in a P.O.W. camp.
takoyaki okonomiyaki/I'm not sure why I'm often repulsed by mayonnaise but rarely bothered by its presence in Japanese preperations. The cheese was jumping around from the heat and made the whole octopus pancake seem alive.
I take pictures of food, but rarely my dining companions. Here’s a short video, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m only peripherally captured on it, but sadly my voice dominates the audio. Sometimes I forget how strongly my voice carries. Seriously, in grade school I was always the one made to go sit in the hall when I was part of a crew of disruptively gabby girls. Despite protesting, the teachers would tell me, “but you’re the one we hear.”
Natori * 58 St. Marks Pl., New York, NY