Onigiri for a Limited Time at Ootoya in Midtown


At the Times Square location of this international restaurant chain based in Japan, there’s a counter window that opens onto the street. From there, assorted selections of onigiri are being sold from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., daily through March 7. Previously, the window sold bento boxes, but the management decided to switch to onigiri. One reason was to offer freshly milled rice from the 2020 harvest in Niigata Prefecture, north of Tokyo. It’s being processed at the Rice Factory in Scarsdale, N.Y. The quality of the rice is as essential for onigiri as it is for sushi, but onigiri is more snack than art. Usually offered in tidy nori wraps for easy transport, the fillings are humbler than the masterfully sliced fish of sushi, and include canned tuna with mayonnaise, fried chicken and breaded pork tonkatsu, $3.75 to $5 each. There are also assortments, with side dishes like miso soup and potato croquettes, that can be delivered for an extra fee. Get a couple of these sets and some sake or beer, and you have an izakaya at home. The onigiri come packaged in special paper used for wrapping food for 1,500 years. The restaurant has never served onigiri, but it will start when it reopens for indoor dining on Sunday.

141 West 41st Street, 212-704-0833, ootoya.us.

Starting with outdoor seating on Friday and adding indoor tables on Sunday, this latest from Simon Oren, a prolific restaurateur, has Ari Bokovza as executive chef. He was previously at Claudette, specializing in Provençal cuisine, but this new position has the Mediterranean on its mind. Meze include muhammara, whipped eggplant and roasted beets, all served with flatbread. Salads like fattoush, small plates of hummus and Lebanese dumplings are some other options on the lighter side. The main courses include dishes like chicken barbecued with harissa, roasted salmon, whole branzino and lamb neck osso buco done in a Middle Eastern style with dates and sumac onions. (Opens Friday)


2454 Broadway (91st Street), 212-873-2466, dagonnyc.com.

An Upper West Side branch of this citywide dumpling chain is now tucked into a tiny storefront.

452 Amsterdam Avenue (82nd Street), 646-559-2887, vanessas.com.

The new Butterfield Market is showcasing some of the restaurants in its Upper East Side neighborhood from Thursdays through Sundays, with food to go and promotional materials. Last week featured A La Turka. The next spotlight will be on Maz Mezcal from Feb. 18 to 21, Caffe Buon Gusto from Feb. 25 to 28, and Chez Nick from March 4 to 7.

Butterfield Market, 1150 Madison Avenue (85th Street), 212-758-2800, butterfieldnyc.com.


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