daruma food porn


The 1-year anniversary of my blog on December 12 came and went without any attention. My first post featured some images from a photoshoot with Alexandra Grablewski for a cool cookbook now out in stores called Great Party Fondues. It was the kind of shoot, moody and tightly-focused on decadent food, that a lot of people would call “food porn.” My idea of food porn is probably more like the above photo, one of many on the walls of Daruma in NYC.

I first heard about this place from Mika Machida (aka Mika Wyche). My girlfriend, Jen, and I were over Mika and Jason Wyche’s house for a Japanese feast (more to come about that), and we got to talking about one of our favorites places, Pinche Tacqueria (closed for renovations this weekend) on Mott Street. Mika mentioned that a new place had opened next door. When she said it was one of those restaurants doing yakitori, I thought oh no, not another one. It’s no secret — I’m tired of the entire East Village and those overcrowded Japanese grill joints. (I don’t get tired of ramen though.) But I was walking by Daruma earlier on Friday and thought it looked cool inside. I was heading to a Toys for Tots benefit nearby that night, so I figured I’d stop in and try it. After Jen and I finished giggling over the photos on the wall, we took a look at the menu. $7 bento meals with rice and soup or salad? Nice…

I can’t vouch for the sushi, and once you try the Pork Munchkins and Shrimp Popcorn, you’re not going to care much to try it either. At $4 and $5 respectively, you might want to order double-portions of each of these, because they’re that good.

We opted for the tofu and bacon from the grill. Both were winners — sweet, salty and smoky. I stand by my opinion that St. Mark’s place is already a caricature of itself. Quite a few places on that block are cranking out bad food from dirty kitchens, but before you judge all yakitori by those low standards, you owe it to yourself to stop by Nolita to check out the superior Daruma. The only bad thing I could possibly say is that, much like Pinche next door, this place is really tiny. Once word spreads about it, getting a seat could be tough.


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