By grace.g.yang ยท September 1, 2007
Under: Asian,Cheap Eats,Dinner,East Village,Japanese

Kenka, one of the many Japanese restaurants along St. Marks in the East Village, looks like a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant when you walk by:

Chris and I went during the winter and didn’t find the food to be anything special (I had the salmon belly and Chris had a combination platter – both were not even worth mentioning), but we decided to give the place a second try. The menu is quite large and has a ton of options for everyone, so we decided to order some small dishes and share. The place is ALWAYS packed since they offer a lot of little dishes and a large assortment of Japanese sake and beer. The restaurant has a great variety of people on any given night, so expect to wait at least 15 minutes before getting seated.

We started off with Japanese curry:

The curry was smooth and a little spicy (the way I like it) but the ratio of curry to rice was 2:1. Stinks! Also, the curry was lukewarm on a busy night, meaning it was sitting around for a while (or they just don’t heat it up). It reminded me of the curry from the Japanese supermarket on 41st and Madison with its big chunks of carrots and potatoes. I’d order it again (I mean, it was only $5!).

Our second dish was a ramen soup:

The ramen noodles were cooked perfectly, the broth wasn’t too salty, and there was a large piece of pork to munch on. It was great! Chris even thought the ramen was better than Momofuku’s – gasp!

Our third dish was a pancake with squid, beef, and pork shavings:

The dish wasn’t executed well; the pancake was DRENCHED in different sauces (teriyaki sauce that was way too sweet/tart and mayonnaise that was too thick) and the pancake was too doughy and undercooked, making the dish a huge disaster.

Overall, Kenka kind of redeemed themselves; the service was prompt, the food was decent, and the bill was under $20. It’s definitely a place to get drinks and have snacks, but not a place I’d go for a solid meal.

Kenka on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments

Hi, I just want to let you know that they use Japanese mayo in the oknomiyaki (the “pancake”). It’s not too thick as you described it, it’s actually authentic. Although I have to say their food qualify has gone way down since I discovered this place two years ago. ๐Ÿ™

Keep up your wonderful blog, it’s really great!

Written By Raymond on September 5th, 2007 @ 8:00 am

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