33-10 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria

I usually don’t do write-ups about neighborhood Chinese, Italian, Thai, or Sushi places because most people are satisfied with their local favs and aren’t switching their allegiance anytime soon. However, I need to make an exception for my neighborhood Japanese favorite, Watawa, because I recently had an outstanding meal there and think Watawa is quite good. We have been going there for years and generally just get sushi. They have an excellent $10 lunch deal that includes 3 rolls (and not just boring ones), miso soup and salad. But Watawa is really more of a full Japanese restaurant, than a sushi bar.

On a recent visit, we ordered the Miso Chilean Sea Bass as an app, and while not in the same league as Nobu’s famous Miso Black Cod, the fish was cooked perfectly and its flaky texture paired perfectly with the richness of the miso sauce. Plus, the presentation was beautiful. The seafood pancakes were quite tasty as well. Often this dish can be lost in grease, but these pancakes were light and flavorful, with plenty of seafood. We also ordered specialty rolls, like the Volcano and Dynamite, which had elegant presentations and lots of flavor. The new 2010 Zagat gives Watawa a 25 rating for food, which is slightly ridiculous, since it’s good, but certainly not better, or even in the same class as Le Cirque or Blue Ribbon which get 24’s. The outer boroughs tend to have a 2-3 point food rating bump over Manhattan. But a 22 rating is still great for this reasonably priced neighborhood gem.