Post-Event: Food at Waku Waku +NYC
If there’s one thing that set Waku Waku +NYC apart from the typical Japanese pop culture festival, it was the food. Sure, there are plenty of general Japanese culture events that serve samples of Japanese food, but we brought in some of the best restaurants around to give a taste of Japan.
Two varieties of ramen were available from two of New York’s most popular ramen restaurants: Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY and Totto Ramen. While it might have seemed redundant at first glance, in fact the two shops provided unique experiences because of the differences in their broth. Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY used a combination pork and chicken broth, while Totto Ramen went with pure chicken, allowing more people to taste the joys of ramen. Kuro-Obi/Ippudo NY also served roast pork buns that were a kind of cross between Japanese chashu, Chinese char siu, and peking duck. Some might say that the weather was too hot for ramen, but true ramen lovers knew that it wouldn’t be the case.
If you were looking for less soupy affairs, curry from Curry-Ya was another one of the sit-down specialties, and possessed a sweeter flavor that worked well for the summer. BentOn also provided delicious yakisoba that was fun to slurp up.
On-the-Go Street Food
Bowls and utensils might have been too unwieldy for some looking for a quick bite to eat, but fortunately Waku Waku +NYC provided lots of dishes that were perfect for eating on the move. Chief among these were the delights from Dotonbori Kukuru. The restaurant’s Takoyaki Meisters showed what authentic takoyaki from Osaka, the birthplace of the fried octopus dumplings, was all about. Complementing the Osakan street food was daigaku imo from La Poppo, which finds its origins not in Osaka but in Tokyo, as a classic snack for hungry college students.
Even “handier” foods were also available for attendees, namely yakitori from Teriyaki Boy and both katsu pork cutlet sandwiches as well as katsu skewers from KATSU-HAMA. Both yakitori and katsu are increasingly common foods, but many restaurants shortcut the process, resulting in mediocre takes. Teriyaki and KATSU-HAMA, in a delightful contrast, use authentic cooking techniques for their signature dishes, and you could of course literally taste the results. KATSU-HAMA provided both pork and chicken katsu, which allowed a greater variety of people in a city as diverse as NYC to enjoy Savory Square. BentOn accompanied their yakisoba with gyoza.
Toeing the line between grab-and-go and sit-down was the rice burger from Yonekichi. Providing a fork just in case the “bread” got to be too unwieldy, the highlight of Yonekichi had to be their salmon burger. Rice and fish are long-time partners in history, and this was an exciting take on the combo.
Drinks and Dessert
For tea fans (and if you’re into Japanese food you’ve probably noticed that tea is a big deal), ITO EN and MatchaBar were in full force, bringing a variety of tea brands. MatchaBar made their signature matcha fresh on the spot, while ITO EN’s bottles were not only very convenient but also incredibly refreshing. Coffee fans weren’t ignored, however, as Hi-Collar showed Waku Waku +NYC the world of Japanese coffee. Stronger than American coffee, it was a must-try brew.
And what better way was there to end (or indeed begin) Savory Square than with some delicious dessert? Beard Papa’s signature creampuffs came in a full plethora of exotic flavors (Calpico stood out the most!), and you could see them making the cream right on the premises. For something lighter, BentOn provided shaved ice. If your willpower didn’t waver from all of that, then you had to face ice cream from ITO EN (if the tea hadn’t gotten you already), as well as taiyaki from Otafuku x Medetai. Red bean paste received many converts on that day, while adherents to the popular Asian dessert filling came away satisfied. The last leg of the dessert temptation gauntlet was the luxurious flavor of ROYCE’ Chocolate, whose matcha chocolate seemingly transformed people’s views of the world. Suddenly there was BR, “Before ROYCE’.”
So, what was your favorite food at Waku Waku +NYC? What foods would you love to see next year? Leave your suggestions in the comments!