Naka Naka

458 West 17th Street off Tenth Avenue
about $400 for six plus room fee, with a few drinks, with tip

When I get slow service in a restaurant, I’m usually ticked off, but for some reason I always excuse it when it comes to a Japanese restaurant. Do you do this? They’re so polite that even when they make a mistake, I find myself apologizing for them.

The menu at Naka Naka is limited; mostly familiar rolls like spicy tuna, salmon and tuna with avocado, unagi and tempura. The uni comes in both the light and the dark yellow colors and the hamachi is excellent, but without their daily specials–written on a whiteboard presented by the waitress–you’ll end up with less than five choices. Some of the appetizer dishes are tasty but unexciting: lotus root, deep fried fish, Japanese pickles and tofu. They also serve hot and cold soba and udon soups.

They didn’t replace our bowls throughout our entire meal. We awkwardly shared small dishes meant to be for one or two people because we didn’t have too many choices. It got so busy at the restaurant, we had to remind our waitress about our lotus root and fried fish orders. Getting refills for water and beer was difficult.

I’d return to Naka Naka if all I wanted was a simple Japanese experience around the neighborhood. In Meatpacking District standards, it’s a very small restaurant but still, an extra $10 per person was added to our bill for reserving the tatami room separated from the main dining bar. It’s a refuge from the zoo that is the party district, but that’s all there is to Naka Naka.