Off the Eaten Path: Samurai Mama
This spot in Williamsburg is about the closest you can get in NYC to an authentic bowl of Japanese udon soup -- thick, handmade noodles in a fish/veggie broth topped with tempura, poached eggs, or pork belly. But even if you're not as big of a noodle fan as I am, its pan-fried gyoza, "taco" sushi, and experimental soju cocktails are only a few more reasons to check this place out.
I'm all for cozy vibes when it comes to eating out, which is why I love Samurai Mama's giant communal table (topped with sawed-off trash can lampshades hanging above). There's of course the option to snag a private booth, but that takes all the fun out of getting a little sneak peek of everyone's food before you order.
As far as food recommendations go, I'd definitely go with the Nikujil Kake Udon, because you can't miss out on their udon or their pork belly. You also can't go wrong with the Mama's Pork Gyoza and a few taco-style sushi rolls, either. Whether you're a die-hard fan of Japanese cuisine or you're looking to expand your palette a little further, this is definitely the place to be.