Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Perch Over Bryant Park

We're always hearing questions from midtown visitors about where to get lunch around the park. Besides our excellent park options like 'wichcraft and the Bryant Park Grill, there a plenty of places to eat around the park, if you're willing to be a little adventurous.

The Daily News recommends Cafe Zaiya for a twist to your regular lunch routine and an excellent view of the park blooming into spring.

Photo from Daily News

Japanese Perch: Cafe Zaiya is a great lunch spot with aerial view of Bryant Park

The rink has come down at Bryant Park—a sure sign that spring is right around the corner.

And the perfect spot to watch the space transform from a winter wonderland to a warm weather oasis?

Cafe Zaiya, located on the second floor of Sixth Avenue’s Kinokuniya bookstore. Just steps away from the 7 line’s 42nd Street stop, the Japanese bakery has long been an affordable lunch spot for midtown office workers.

Most go for the traditional bento boxes—some options are fish, chicken and vegetarian—or donburi, Japanese rice bowls.

There’s also a large selection of wrapped sandwiches, including the customer favorite, chicken cutlet with housemade mayo. Lighter fare include sushi and onigri, Japanese rice balls. Shaped into triangles, the rice balls come stuffed with salmon, shrimp tempura or spicy tuna.

Be sure to follow directions on how to unwrap it or the seaweed covering will quickly separate from the rice, turning the portable snack into a messy meal.

While most diners grab and go, the aerial view of Bryant Park from Cafe Zaiya’s window bar is truly worth a stay.

Stop by during the post-lunch rush and enjoy the cafe’s real gems: the pastries.

Sit down for a coffee—they brew Seattle’s Best—or better yet, a green tea latte. On hot days, Cafe Zaiya regulars recommend the black sesame frappe, a frothy milkshake made with ground sesame paste.

Pair the drinks with a savory bun like the C.O.B. (corn, onion and bacon) or satisfy your sweet tooth with yakimochi, a grilled rice cake stuffed with mashed azuki beans.

The desserts are a mix of East and West—the berry berry mousse, made of strawberries, raspberries and white chocolate, sits next to a green tea cake in the display case near the cash register. Meanwhile, pudding cups come in flavors like mango mousse and tiramisu.

Between the food and the nearby shelves teeming with Japanese fashion magazines and mangas, it’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Tokyo. Just ignore the yellow cabs rushing by underneath the window.

Cafe Zaiya 1073 Sixth Ave. at W. 41st St., 2nd Fl. (212)

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