Tuesdays with TT: Cafe Zaiya

The Friday of July 4th weekend, CT & I were both fortunate enough to have early office closing so everyone could start the holiday early. Since we were spending the 4th in town(highly underrated by the way), we decided to meet up for a leisurely lunch in Bryant Park. CT graciously offered to pick up some goodies from Cafe Zaiya. I used to eat at Cafe Zaiya fairly often when I had a client nearby at my old job and miss it a lot. Fortunately for me, my current job is close to Woorijip, which is like the Korean equivalent.

Oyako Donburi $3.99. This has chicken and egg over white rice with a variety of veggies. Everything in this leaned towards the sweet side, so I didn’t eat too much of it. I never had this before, but am glad I got a chance to try it.

CT says: When working midtown, I used to frequent Dainobu quite often, and this was one of my favorites. Simple was delicious. I found the Cafe Zaiya dish to be a little bit sweeter, but still enjoyed it.

Chicken Katsu Don $5.95. Simply a fried chicken cutlet covered in a sweet bbq-like sauce over white rice. Although it wasn’t hot anymore, it was still pretty delicious and a little crispy despite sitting covered in sauce. Fried chicken, what’s not to like?

CT says: Again, a little sweeter then I’m used too, but still tasted good.

She also picked up three rice balls because we both love them so much.

Spicy Cod Roe ($1.95), Spicy Tuna ($1.75), and Salmon ($1.50).

They were all very good. It takes a little practice to unwrap them, but well worth the wait. The spicy balls aren’t terribly spicy, but have enough for a little tinge of heat. The spicy cod roe is pretty salty on its own, but flavors all of the rice nicely.

CT says: The filling it these were nicely spread out through the rice. I hate when there is only one lump in the middle, so this was extra enjoyable. I really wish I had a Japanese market by my current office.

Here is a shot of the Spicy Cod Roe rice ball innards.

All in all, Cafe Zaiya is a great lunch option for those of you who are adventurous eaters. Prices are super reasonable and the quality is pretty high. We were both pretty satisfied for the rest of the day leading up to our special dinner at Ai Fiori. This was just a sliver of the items available and we didn’t even get any of the multitude of dessert offerings. Thanks to CT for bringing me lunch to share on a nice Summer day in the park.

Cafe Zaiya on Urbanspoon


  1. says

    Sounds fun – impromptu picnic in the park! I love rice balls, but I have to admit the first 50 or so I’ve had, I made myself. CT, you can make them yourself rather easily at home (and save lots of money, har har) – but seriously, they’re easy and fun and you can even freeze them which I did for a long time. Reheat in the morning and you’re good to go (keep seaweed separate for that). 🙂 Let me know if you want me to send you tutorials (I made mine with spicy cod roe that I made myself, tuna salad with cod roe, salmon salad, roast pork (Chinese), eel, … you can put just about anything in them).

  2. says

    BTW, Cafe Zaiya is exactly the kind of place I like having near my office. The closest thing I had to it was Niko Niko on Wall, which was only OK and way more expensive than this. Well, maybe not ‘way’ more, just seems like it was a lot pricier.

  3. says

    I agree, making it yourself is super awesome! And you get to experiment with different flavors. I liked to add salmon in my own.

    Anyway, Cafe Zaiya is awesome!

  4. T.C. says

    I really enjoyed this place for lunch at my old office. It definitely stuck around on my weekly rotations.

    Never got tired of eating the Spicy Tuna rice balls. Good stuff. Their baked goods also offer up a variety of sweet treats.

  5. says

    I used to go to Cafe Zaiya all the time when Panya was closed for renovation. It was dangerously close to my art studio. But now that Cookie Custards can be had again, I never looked back.

    Still a great affordable lunch option by Byrant Park though!

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