Japan Village, the latest in an apparently inexhaustible series of NYC food halls, completed its first full weekend on Sunday with most, though not yet all, of its vendors open. Located within Industry City—though, conveniently, the entrance is right on Third Avenue, a block away from the subway, so you won’t get lost in the megacomplex maze—the jam-packed venue houses both an ample Sunrise Mart for Asian-brand groceries, beverages, and snacks, and (at least currently) seven different booths covering the Japanese food basics.
That old East Village standby Setagaya provides the ramen, for example, while Gohei next door will satisfy your soba and udon needs. A griddle outfit called Hachi had yakisoba and okonomiyaki on their menu over the weekend, with takoyaki (octopus balls) coming soon. Deep frying duties fall to Shokusaido, with vegetable and fish tempuras as well as pork and chicken katsus. Moriya also has fried delights, offered in rice bowl format.
Prices are mostly very reasonable throughout: my generous bowl of Niku udon, topped with plenty of "sweet and savory" beef, cost only $11; and my Seafood Okononmiyaki, packed with bits of octopus, shrimp, and scallop, was only $9.
The best thing I ate on Sunday was the pair of onigiri at Obentoyasan. One was an Ume, or pickled plum, and possibly the most umami thing you can put in your mouth; the other a Mentaiko, stuffed with cod and topped with roe and also soft, juicy, and exploding with flavor. The rice, the seaweed, the fillings, the temperature, the balance among ingredients: all perfect. And only three bucks each. Hard to know if they can consistently deliver such wonderful treats, but I would happily navigate the usual weekend subway mess just to try more of the varieties here. They also serve three types of Miso Soup.
The layout here is a bit of a challenge once it gets really crowded (if you can go during the week, you should definitely do that), but that's mostly due to the plentiful seating taking up every bit of open space throughout. If it's even moderately warm, the courtyard right out back is the obvious move.
There's a central bar with Japanese beers and sake, and most stations also sell beer as well as softer beverages. The true Japan Village pros, however, will pop over to Sunrise Mart for drinks and snacky supplements to their meal.
Japan Village, which includes the Sunrise Mart, is located at Industry City, 934 Third Avenue, in Sunset Park, and is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. More food vendors, including a sushi bar, and longer hours coming soon.