East Meets West Culinary Extravaganza…

Hirame Sashimi

Tempting Tempura Hideaway In Alphabet City

Inquiring minds want to know.

The best way to find things out is research and talking to others in the know.

Among my many interests are food and restaurants.

Not exactly a revelation since the ifthedevilhadmenopause.com reviews dining establishments every Tuesday.

Recently, I asked Ai Motohashi, the sake sommelier at Sakagura, who is deeply invested in the the culinary field, what are her favorite places to dine.

She graciously turned me on to Secchu Yokota, a contemporary Japanese restaurant featuring omakase tempura.

The restaurant takes the name from the Japanese term, wayou secchu, which refers to the blending of Japanese and Western styles.

These elements are featured at Secchu Yokota, offering a unique dining experience.

I can pretty well guarantee that I would not have unearthed this hidden gem on my own no matter how deep I dug.

Firstly, I rarely venture into Alphabet City…the ‘hood trends young and is a pain to get to from the upper west side.

I originally discovered my beloved Francesco of Sociale fame at Perbacco in the ABC neighborhood, but very few restaurants have been worth the journey.

Initially, when I heard that it was a prix fixe menu with a preponderance of tempura my mantra, “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips” came to mind.

Well, Secchu Yokota tempura is not your heavy, greasy American version of tempura.

Chef de cuisine, Nicholas Seider

I love the space.

There is a counter that seats a maximum of eight people, with a front row view of the kitchen and the two resident culinary magicians.

Two seatings are offered…6:00 and 8:30.

Patrons wait outside Secchi Yokota. At 8:30pm on the dot the 8 diners are ushered inside.

The room is still occupied by the 6pm diners who are savoring dessert in the small communal lounge space.

I enjoy the intimacy and the free flow of conversation between the chefs and the patrons.

Chef Yokota

Chef Atsushi Yokota comes from a long line of chefs from western Japan. His grandfather was a chef specializing in traditional kaiseki cuisine who had the honor of serving the Emperor of Japan.

Yokota’s father, also a chef, focused on Western cuisine at renowned Japanese hotels and eventually opened his own restaurant.

In 1998, Chef Yokota moved to the United States and is presently offering guests Japanese cooking with a focus on tempura, paired with dishes reflecting his diverse cultural, culinary and family influences.

Prior to joining Secchu Yokota, Chef de Cuisine, Nicholas Seider, was Sous Chef with the Pantina Restaurant Group.

The menu also offers a lovely, reasonably priced sake list.

With the sake sommelier’s recommendation, we selected Koshin No Kanbai, Sai, which is the company’s new line of sake introduced for the first time in 40 years. The sake emitted a crisp, delicate finish. ($16/glass, $74/bottle).

Once settled, the first course of a fragrant, delectable Turnip Soup is served. The soup had a potage-like consistency achieved by using Koshihikari rice.

Each course is described in-depth by Daimi Takebayashi who wears many hats…server, operation manager and sake sommelier.

The preparations are meticulous and creative.

Hirame Sashimi

Next was a wonderful Hirame Sashimi, enhanced with a visually appealing raw wheat cake (mama-fu) which resembles the Japanese maple leaf. An actual Momiji leaf (red leaf) adorned the presentation.

Sea Eel and Salad

The 3rd course was an unbelievably delicious Grilled Sea Eel dish embellished with a fresh salad.

We opted for a pescatarian menu, although I did sample one meat course.

The 6 other diners enjoyed a chicken pate with salad and coddled egg…the Bo Bo chickens live a better life than most Americans.

Shrimp Tempura

And then, drum roll please…the tempura courses began.

Tempura Set Up…Lemon, Fresh Radish, Wasabi Salt, Charcoal Salt, Tempura Dipping Sauce
Scallop Tempura

When you enter the tempura phase of the meal, a plate with a Japanese cedar sheet (typically used to smoke chicken and fish) covers the plate.

Each piece of perfectly prepared tempura is placed on the cedar sheet.

Eggplant Tempura

After nine pieces of tempura have been presented and consumed there is not a lick of oil detected.

The tempura melts in your mouth, is exquisitely crunchy and utterly divine.

Shishito Pepper Tempura
Shrimp Head Tempura
Eggplant Tempura

The final main courses were comprised of green tea soba noodles and a rice selection.

Green Tea Soba Noodles
Shiso Leaf Tempura

The noodles were served with an amazing Shiso Leaf Tempura.

Pork and Rice

I opted for the Buta-ten (pork tempura) pork course with rice in an amazing broth made from bonito and kombu (kelp) dashi.

Duck was also an option.

Uni With Nori

We ordered Santa Barbara Uni (sea urchin) which was a la carte ($18). The sweet and creamy uni wrapped in nori (seaweed) was prepared tempura style.

Mango Sorbet, Pistachio Wafer, Tarte Tatin

Dessert was homemade Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) Sorbet with a Pistachio Wafer and a divine riff on Tart Tatin, Mochiko Tatin (mochiko is a sweet rice flour).

We sat next to a wonderful family. The millenials (cousins) live in NYC and the parents were visiting from New Orleans, but originally from Vietnam.

The staff is gracious, welcoming and accommodating…it is as if they have invited you into their home.

Chef Yokota’s charming wife, Ari, keeps the restaurant running efficiently.

The restaurant does accommodate food restrictions.

Oh, what a culinary celebration.

Secchu Yokota is a uniquely tantalizing, intimate dining experience.

Secchu Yokota 199 East 3rd Street. New York City. Open Monday-Saturday 6-11:30pm. Reservations by phone (212.777.1124) between 2:00pm-5:00pm Monday – Saturday. Prix Fixe $75 and $100.


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