Eastern Deli with Western Accents

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By Nancy J. Brandwein

Their web site declares Zaiya a “one stop shop for all Japanese delicacies,” all “handmade,” to boot. Whether you crave innovative bakery items—tuna and corn baked on what looks like a Danish, or a French sandwich with cod roe, homemade mayonnaise and butter—or more standard Japanese fare, such as sushi, onigiri, bento boxes, ramen and rice bowls, you’ll find it here and on the cheap.

Photo by: Daniel S. Burnstein

Zaiya began as small, but popular, Parisienne Bakery in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and you’ll still find dozens of items made with Parisienne-brand delicate white bread and cakes, such as snack-sized sandwiches ($3.75-3.95) or, fans’ favorite, strawberry shortcake ($2.75). Hot dishes are mainly DIY; I microwaved my shrimp chili don ($5.75) in its black plastic bowl. Over a dozen shrimp, soft eggy bits and cauliflower were piled on white rice in a sauce more sweet than heat, its taste reminiscent of Pad Thai. Between bites of shrimp, I ate a cold Brie/ham crepe ($3.25) and a green tea pudding dessert with red bean paste and gluey mochi cubes ($3). Nay to the pea-green pudding, but yea for the oozy Brie, thin ham and fresh tomato and lettuce in the spongy crepe wrapper.

Note: Zaiya is busy at lunchtime. Go early. Choose quickly.

Café Zaiya
18 E. 41st St. (betw. Madison & 5th Aves.)
212-779-0600

Got a snack attack to share? Contact NBrand@aol.com

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