There’s a lot of changes going on in the East Village. All of a sudden, really good restaurants have been popping up; Han Dynasty and Alder to name a few. But also all of a sudden, favorites I’ve long known and come to love have distressingly been disappearing.
Masak, an updated Singaporean restaurant, while although a bit pricey for dinner, served a much more affordable brunch with menu items such as chicken hearts encrusted with cumin, fried mantou, and kaya toast. After two years, the restaurant shuttered early last year, and Singaporean brunch is no more in the East Village.
9th Street Bakery closed last year as well. This one was a little more surprising since the bakery had been open in its location for 87 years. (The original owners immigrated from Belarus in 1913 and upgraded from a pushcart on Orchard Street.) That’s 87 years of tender, yeasty chocolate babka with a crumbly streusel topping. There’s been talk of a website being set up to to sell their delicious babka online, but so far nothing has materialized. And even more sadly, a sign for a juice bar went up a few months ago in the old 9th Street spot. (How much effin juice does New York need?!?!?!)
However, for me, the saddest news was the closing of Sapporo East and Shima two weeks ago. I’ve been going to Sapporo East forever and when I first started dating David, it was one of the first restaurants I took him to so he could try my beloved kaiyaki, broiled sliced giant clam with avocado, mayonnaise and smelt roe. During a 5 year break, David told me he stopped going to Sapporo East because he was afraid he would run into me and started patronizing Shima, Sapporo East’s sister restaurant a few blocks away.
Shima while a tad better for sushi and sashimi, never served kaiyaki so it was very fortunate for David, among other reasons, we started dating again. Late last year, we started visiting Shima pretty frequently for lunch when we discovered they had a really great lunch special: sashimi or sushi plate for $12 or a bento box with options such as sashimi, salmon teriyaki or unagi (grilled eel) for $12.50. For the quality, it was a steal. To you my readers, I apologize for not writing about it sooner. I’m a terrible person.
Change is usually a positive thing, but I can’t help feeling slightly depressed and alternatively angry from these recent closings. As for my never-ending hunger for kaiyaki, WHAT NOW?!