Umi No Ie, Uminoie, East Village, Manhattan, New York, Japanese, Home-style Cooking, Shochu, Sake, Where to Drink Shochu in New York, Where to eat home-style cooking in New York, Matsumi, Mika, Goto Island, Japan, Tokyo, Udon Noodles,


East Village - New York, NY


Maybe it’s the insider feel, or the exterior that looks like a secret clubhouse, but Umi No Ie is the kind of spot that your friends will ask you “how did you know about this place?”

The entrance is marked only by two wooden chairs out front, one semi-broken, and a paper sign that simply reads: Umi No Ie. Sake. Shochu. Go to island.

Go to island refers to Goto Island, west of Nagasaki, and Umi No Ie translates to “house by sea.”  Two friends, Mutsumi Tanaka and Mika Okui, decided to open up a beach house in the East Village (minus the beach) back in 2003. The decor is more random than tropical, with the exception of a fishing net hung on the wall, but it does have an easy-breezy vibe.

There really isn’t a kitchen. There really isn’t even a chef. Matsumi and Mika both cook over a small electric stove, sandwiched between the bar and a wall covered with shochu bottles.

It’s the shochu that’s part of the lure of Umi No Ie. They have over 60 different kinds, with varying base ingredients such as: sweet potato, rice, wheat, buckwheat, sugarcane, sesame, and dates. Shochu is often described as a Japanese vodka, with a clean, light taste. The body breaks down the alcohol easier than other alcoholic drinks. Which in layman terms means - less of a hangover the next day.

The cooking is home-style Japanese. Neither Mika nor Matsumi had ever worked in a professional kitchen before, but they adopted recipes from Mika’s mother, with the cuisine style of Goto Island, Matsumi’s hometown. The tradition involves using ago-dashi, a broth made with simmering dried flying fish, in a variety of the dishes from udon noodles to their special pork. Umi No Ie uses noodles imported from Japan, made by Matsumi’s father.

They’re open 7 days a week and offer daily specials, plus a $35 tasting menu. Mainstays on the menu include squid, sweet pork belly served in ago-dashi broth, and meatballs with a sunnyside-up egg on top. Don’t be surprised when you’re served potato salad, it actually is traditional in home-style Japanese cooking.

The restaurant is small, but they do take reservations. You can either sit at the bar, tables, or zashiki-style (sans shoes, on mats on the floor). If there’s space, it’s worth sitting at the bar to watch the action.

Umi No Ie is where you go to get away. It’s the clubhouse where you catch up with friends, snack on comfort food, and linger over shochu.

Decoding Shochu Ingredients

There are many base ingredients from which shochu is distilled, the most common are:

Imo (Sweet Potato): highly aromatic, soft sweetness with lots of body. Goes well with anything.
Mugi (Barley): roasted and often dry. The best to mix with juice.
Soba (Buckwheat): strong, slightly fruity, with a clean taste and sweetness that lingers on the tongue.
Kokuto (Brown Sugar): sweet nose and finish, with a sugarcane aroma.
Kome (Rice): lightly refined sweetness similar to sake.
Goma (Sesame): nutty, smokey essence.
Detsu (Date): has more of a brandy taste.

Slide Show

For more about Umi No Ie, watch the slide show.


Matsumi’s and Mika’s recommendations for authentic Japanese restaurants in New York.

City Guides

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Japanese Home-style

East Village

86 East 3rd Street

New York, NY 10079

T: 646.654.1122



Mon - Thu: 7pm - 1am

Fri - Sat: 7pm - 2am

Sun: 7pm - 12am


Recommended By

- Sakaya Sake Specialists in New York, NY



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