One of my favorite places to be in the world is at the dramatic semi-circular counter at noda. I absolutely love eating here, a place where I feel both comfortably at home and the thrill of something special. When I walk outside after a couple of hours of escape from the world, I feel a warm glow that I can carry with me for a few days.

I’m a hopeless sushi addict, and the food at noda is a perfect match for me. I find everything so easy to enjoy—the food is unfussy and just the highest quality, the kind of food whose deliciousness really gets under your skin without bragging about it. Saba bozushi, komochi yari-ika, ankimo, shiroebi… I could go on and on about things I’ve eaten here that stand out in my memory. The nigiri has a neatness of texture and flavor that makes it easy to enjoy and easy to love.

The level of hospitality here is so high that it all feels a bit hard to believe. I’ve had a great time chatting with the wonderful people here, the friendliest, most personable hosts you could possibly ask for. Chef Shigeyuki Tsunoda is quite literally at the center of attention during dinner, but his generosity is mirrored everywhere you look. Combined with the unusual setup—the restaurant has a beautiful and extremely well-curated bar in which to wait before the meal and, if you like, enjoy after dinner drinks—the overall effect is to feel like you’ve been welcomed into a place where you don’t have to worry about a thing. Just let your spirit be refreshed!

noda 6 W 28th St, New York, NY 10001

Last visited: late Spring, 2019

Mr. Taka

Mr. Taka makes some of my favorite bowls of ramen. My recommendation is the spicy miso, which always gives me the unusual feeling of being both totally stuffed full of food and ready to jump up and get moving. The “stamina” ramen is also great. Both come with a generous helping of delicious ground pork, culprit number one for the totally full feeling.

The thing I love about this place is that each individual part of the bowl of ramen is right up there with the best in its category. Particularly off-the-charts is the beautiful chasu, perfectly seasoned and perfectly charred for the quintessential melt-in-your-mouth experience.

I find it really hard to resist ordering an Orion on draft when I’m eating a bowl here—I love food that goes hand-in-hand with a particular drink and these two are hard to separate now in my mind! Particularly on a crisp New York winter day, there’s nothing in the city I crave more than that pair.

Right next door to Mr. Taka is the excellent Bluestockings Bookstore, by the way, if you feel like grabbing a book after lunch!

Mr. Taka 170 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Try: spicy miso or stamina ramen with a frosty glass of Orion