NYC
Posted October 1, 2022

We had to run errands around Macy’s, so this was a good chance to check out some restaurant that was fairly light and also didn’t have strong smells. We were able to walk in on a Saturday at 5:30 PM with no reservations. We noticed the menus had both skewers and hot pot as options. I saw that many people ordered hot pot with cotton candy on top, and we contemplated briefly but decided not to.

Ambiance

There isn’t much ambiance to this restaurant. There were several tables with gas powered stoves since many were ordering their hot pots. I thought the cotton candy hot pot seemed like a gimmick to me, so we weren’t interested in ordering.

The service was very fast, almost as if they are trying to turn tables fast.

Food

The Chuhai with Passionfruit ($7) came with vodka and passion fruit seeds. This was just OK for me. I think I’m growing more sensitive to the taste of vodka where I just don’t like the taste of it much anymore. Whatever passion fruit juice/syrup they added did not blend as well as I would have hoped.

The Chicken Heart ($6) and Shitake Mushroom ($3) came next. I passed on the mushroom entirely, but my partner did enjoy it. The chicken heart was pretty dry, and it didn’t have a good smoke to it. I added some of the seasoning salt to give it a little bit more flavor.

The Bacon with Quail Egg ($5.50 per skewer), Pork Belly ($3), and Chicken Gizzard ($3) came shortly after. Again, there is no seasoning to this at all. Everything here was overcooked, so it was pretty dry. I had to add salt to everything.

I also ordered the Pork Belly with Enoki Mushroom ($4.50), and my partner said it was fairly mediocre with a lack of taste.

Lastly, the Unagi Don for 2 ($45) came out with a couple sides. There was some pickled cucumbers, salted rice cracker pebbles, pickled ginger, and a small pot of lukewarm dashi. In the main dish, there were 4 rows of unagi (eel) laid out on top of tamago (egg) and rice. There was some red pickled ginger on the side as well with plenty of eel sauce to go around. The eel was pretty decent. The skin wasn’t crispy, but the meat was very tender and cooked nicely. I wasn’t sure what to use the dashi for other than to clean the bowl, but it had very little flavor and it became cold pretty quickly.

Final Verdict

Ai Ki Ya is definitely the epitome of mediocrity for yakitori. The grilled yakitori didn’t have much smoke flavors or seasoning, so you will need to add seasoning to the skewers. This place’s hot pots seem to be more popular though many people were ordering the cotton candy hot pot. The last thing I would want is some cotton candy in my broth. The unagi was decent though I wouldn’t make a special trip to eat this here. If you are near Macy’s and are looking for something very straight forward in regards to hot pot or yakitori, then you can check this out.

Yelp Jabs

Cotton candy is sweet and fits perfectly with the sukiyaki.

The gimmick to this is that the servers brings a metal rod that they hang cotton candy over your pot. The heat of the pot starts to slowly cause the cotton candy to drip into the broth. This in turns makes it sweet. Some have said that this caused the pot to become a bit too sweet.

We ended up ordering 3 skewers and it came out to around $18 I believe….so not worth it. The skewers weren’t bad but its overpriced and nothing special or authentic about it.

It really depends what skewers you order. I would argue this place’s skewers are a little cheaper than, for example, Nonono. For authenticity, I think the fact they had a bunch of cotton candy might make you wonder if that is a parameter you should even think about.

Revisions

  1. Oct 2, 2022 - Initial revision.