This past Sunday, I went to the Upper East Side to explore the NY JapanTown Soul Food Festival. It’s the last installment of JapanTown’s three-part series of festivals. This Soul Food Festival highlights the local Japanese dishes or “soul food” unique to specific regions of Japan, in particular, the regional specialties of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island. The participating New York Japanese restaurants serve up a tasty collection of their soul food.
This street fair took place on Lexington Avenue between 93rd and 95th, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, right at one end of the 92 Street Y Lexington Avenue Festival, starts from 79th St. I’m a big fan of street fairs and as always, I had so much fun eating delicious foods, sampling new products, and grabbing freebies with my buddies.
Here’s the handful of savory and delicious foods we ate during the festival. We started our food journey from 95th St and walked back and forth between the two blocks… eating, eating, and eating some more. Enjoy!
Squid Legs – East 55 Restaurant
When we saw all that seafood on the grill, our first instinct was to hop on the line. The $25 seafood platter sounded amazing! It includes 1 whole calamari, 1 squid leg, 2 top neck, 1 scallop, and 1 king crab leg. Wow! That’s quite a lot. We decided to go with the 2 skewers of squid legs for $3 instead – still very delectable!
BBQ Pork skewers – Ume No Ie
The BBQ pork looked very tasty and smelled amazing too. The line was very long, but totally worth the wait. We anxiously exchanged our $5 for two skewers of this juicy and fatty pork.
I wasn’t sure if it was the words “Tornado Meat Riceball” that caught my attention, or the fact that they were using a cooking torch. Either way, we found ourselves standing in line trying to get a closer look. We picked up a Tornado Meat Riceball for $5 and a Sweet Potato Dumpling for $3.
Tornado Meat Riceball (Nikumaki Omusubi)
We watched them as they heated up the riceball and melted a slice of cheese over it with the cooking torch. We took a closer look when they handed it to us. It is a riceball is flavored with soy sauce, covered with strips of bacon, and topped with a slice of melted cheese. This riceball was fantastic!
Sweet Potato Dumpling (Ikinari Dango)
The sweet potato dumpling was very tasty too. It’s a dumpling made with rice flour on the outside, and filled with red bean and Japanese sweet potato.
Steak Rice Bowl – Negiya
The guys at Negiya were cooking up some tasty looking beef. Their juicy steak featured there’s strips of marinated grilled beef and sauteed unions. They offered it in sandwich form as well as over a small bowl of rice. We went with the steak rice bowl for $5.
Teriyaki Pizza (Okonomiyaki) – O Planning
At first, we didn’t know what “Teriyaki Pizza” was, but we got a closer look, it was just their name for okonomiyaki. It is often also known as Japanese pancake, or pancake pizza. The basic pancake is made with flour, water, eggs, shredded cabbage, and meat. The pancake is topped with the sweet otafuku/okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed flakes, bonito flakes, pickled ginger, and a drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise. It was just $5 and always so tasty!
And that concludes this year’s NY JapanTown festival. More pictures from this event here.