A recent trip to Fukuoka reminded us of our obsession with yatai, portable stalls that serve Japanese street food. While New York still doesn’t have proper yatai – along the river or anywhere else – we may have found the next best thing.
Madison Square Eats is about as close to a yatai setup as New York has seen. Organized by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, Mad. Sq. Eats is a month-long outdoor food event in Worth Square at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 25th Street that brings together 26 vendors.
Among them is Mimi and Coco, omnipresent street fair veterans. They serve teriyaki balls, a Western take on takoyaki, the ultimate Japanese street food. If you don’t already know, takoyaki is round pastry filled with chunks of octopus. Mimi and Coco decided that the thought of octopus might scare off potential customers, so they adapted the fillings to appeal to New Yorkers’ tastes. You can try shrimp, country sausage, or organic potato balls topped with almonds, tempura flakes, Japanese mayonnaise, and teriyaki sauce. It’s a yummy – and deliciously cheap – meal.
Madison Square Eats runs daily from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. through October 19. So enjoy some teriyaki balls in the shadow of the Flatiron and let your imagination take you to a yatai in Japan.
Maybe we can get a few Japanese food stalls to set up on Hudson River Park . . .