Meze Platters & Japanese Bar Dishes: Fun Eateries with Large Groups

Meze Platters & Japanese Bar Dishes: Fun Eateries with Large Groups

Ngoc Phan

Sharing meals is a great way to enjoy the company of others especially when you get to share plates. However, it’s difficult to find a restaurant that enables a large group of people to sample multiple dishes inexpensively. So, to get around having to spend a fortune for food, I like visiting restaurants that offer tapas style dishes.

Kashkaval

Catching up with friends is always fun but doing it over food can make the experience more interactive and memorable. Kashkaval is a classy place and it’s the perfect place to take friends (or a date) to impress them with great food and a beautiful interior.

To start, I decided on the cheese and meat platter. There are more than 25 types of cheeses (around 3 or more of each kind) and around 12 types of cured meats, sausages and hams. I ended up choosing my two favorite cheeses: hard aged Amsterdam Gouda which has a slight bite and Roquefort which is semi soft, bleu cheese that is sharp, tangy, and has a hint of saltiness. Dried fruits along with nuts and slices of baguette are served alongside with the cheese. There are many cheeses to choose from and it can be intimidating choosing from the extensive menu but the wait staff makes great suggestions to match your personal taste. I also chose the chorizo to go with my cheeses which provided a delicious, salty contrast.

The cheeses were a great portion as an appetizer but after hearing about the dips at Kashkaval, I decided to order a meze platter. Dips are the ultimate appetizers to share, but Kashkaval is able to make these popular appetizers into meals. There are so many dips to choose from, and I eventually decided on the hummus, tzatziki (cucumber yogurt), baked beets, ajvar (roasted red peppers, eggplant, garlic), and artichoke dip. Each dip was memorable, flavorful and delicious. It’s difficult to choose my favorites but I definitely recommend the ajvar and baked beets. The servings are very generous and 5 dips can easily feed 4 hungry people (the dips are served with soft whole wheat pita).

Feeling especially gluttonous, I ordered a final dish which was their chicken kebabs with a side of orzo and a delicious side salad that consisted of tomato, feta cheese and olive. The chicken was moist, tender, and perfectly seasoned.

Atmosphere: Beautiful interior, a big variety of food, helpful staff, comfortable seating, roomy space

Price: $$$$$

856 9th AveNew York, NY 10019

(212) 581-8282

Village Yokocho

We often associate Japanese food with sushi, but sushi actually constitutes only a small part of Japanese cuisine. I find that Japanese bar snacks and dishes are not only a tasty part of Japanese cuisine but are relatively inexpensive.

Village Yokocho is all about simple food, great drinks, and friendly faces. The menu is extensive and there is something for everyone, but I highly recommend getting the yakitori (skewers). The meats are tender, well-seasoned, and the portions are small enough to order plenty of skewers to try. I recommend the beef, quail eggs, chicken with plum sauce, beef tongue (trust me on this one), and chicken heart (again, this sounds odd but they are delicious).

My favorite dish of the night was the sashimi bowl in their specials list. It may be a bit pricy but it was well worth it. Their sashimi bowl consists of sliced salmon, large chunks of uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe), chicken, and herbs that lay under a bed of sushi grade rice. The salmon was very fresh and almost velvety in texture. The contrast in texture of the salmon roe and the fresh and crunchy greens made this dish so enjoyable. The tartness from the rice wine vinegar mixed in with the rice made each bite addicting.

I also ordered a few yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) which I had been anticipating for a long time. I always see Japanese shows featuring these cute balls of rice but I never got the chance to try one. There are several ways they are served and I decided on having mine stuffed with salty cod. The rice ball was crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. The saltiness from the cod provides the necessary savory flavor that makes this dish unforgettable.

Among the many other things I ordered, I recommend the tempura pumpkin, bacon wrapped scallops, warm soups. I would stick to ordering the smaller dishes as they are inexpensive, and also since Village Yokocho seems to lack in larger, more entrée-like dishes.

Atmosphere: roomy, a bit loud, very friendly service, great alcohol selection, great for events.

Price: $$$$$

8 Stuyvesant StNew York, NY 10003

(212) 598-3041

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