141 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003, US
A mediocre Japanese gastropub (izakaya) in the East Village. Located behind Ramen Setagaya in the space formerly occupied by Pasta/Sushi Wafu and Oriental Spoon before that.
Kris and I went last night (4 June 2008) after the Forum on Participation and Politics Online at NYU Law School. We walked by the crowded izakayas on St. Mark’s Place, including the ever-popular Yakitori Taisho and Kenka. We were starving and didn’t want to wait, so we kept walking eastwards. We stumbled upon Oni and decided to give it a try despite the fact that it was nearly empty.
We had the daikon & kani (fake crab) salad, which was passable, but a little bit of a tacky guilty pleasure. We also had an order of hokke (grilled salted atka mackerel) and fried oysters. The oysters were gigantic, but not in a good way – a little too much breading and a bit burnt. The hokke was ok too, but really, it’s pretty hard to mess up, since the fish usually comes already salt cured and frozen in a vacuum pack. All you need to do is defrost and “grill” in the toaster oven. Luckily, we had $2.50 Kirin draft beers to wash everything down. We would have had 2 beers each, but settled with one, because the waitresses were so remarkably inattentive, walking right by us several times without checking on us, despite the fact that there were only 2 other people in the restaurant at the time.
Given the ghosts of 2 failed restaurants that haunt this hidden-away-behind Ramen Setagaya space, I am giving Izakaya Oni 3 or 4 months before it goes bust.