Could one of the city's best takes on chicken and waffles be at a Japanese restaurant? Daikaya's cross-cultural version of the Southern classic is certainly a contender. The split-level ramen/izakaya restaurant only unveiled its brunch menu in June, but it appears to be a secret well-kept: Yesterday, any walk-ins at peak brunching hour would have been seated immediately. And that means less of a wait for this beauty:
That's the Japanese interpretation of chicken and waffles, featuring a fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean paste and topped with wasabi butter and maple syrup. It's made complete by the crispy chicken karaage, and hits all of the right spots -- sweet, salty and savory.
You should order it last, though, along with the French toast soaked in soy milk, and caramelized to the consistency of creme brulee:
Since brunch isn't native to Japanese cuisine, the menu is chef Katsuya Fukushima's combination of Japanese-style American classics. A bagel and lox, for example, becomes lox and onigri -- a plate of salmon sashimi and smoked salmon with pickled onion and cream cheese -- and a "bagel" made of rice sprinkled with the familiar "everything" toppings. Very clever.
There's also an eggs Benedict, but it's served with a crab korokke, or croquette, and a poached egg on an English muffin drenched in warm brown butter mayo and tonkatsu sauce, a type of Worcestershire sauce. It's a little bit on the sweet side, which might turn off some diners.
Try the sisig, a Filipino spicy pork hash with citrus-yuzu and a poached egg. Wash it down with brunch drinks -- a Bloody Mari seasoned with hon-dashi and ichimi, or a Dai-drop, like a mimosa. Like Daikaya's dinner, brunch comes in shareable plates, but they're slightly bigger than the evening menu, with five dishes providing enough for a table of two. Each plate is between $6-$12, and all of the pictured dishes are less than $8.