It was our seventh wedding anniversary the other day so I promised my wife I’ll come up for air and celebrate in style.

As luck would have it, New York Restaurant Week was underway so I could impress my wife with my discerning, epicurean (on a start-up budget) choice – Inakaya.

Truth be told, it was the only Restaurant Week participant across the street from Port Authority that served Japanese.  My wife doesnt like to walk far in heels and we normally park at Port Authority Garage when we drive in from NJ.

So it took me all of two minutes to pick Inakaya.

But being an Open Data geek, and having given our two cents to the  Open Health Inspection Specification that NYC is already testing on its Open Data Portal (thanks to Andrew Nicklin, NYC’s “Open Data Tzar”), I then took the time to literally check out the “dirt” on Inakaya beyond its A rating.

Here’s what I found:

  • Last inspection: 05/19/2012
  • Score: 95, up from a low of 87 in 2011.
  • Health Violations: 1 in 2012 (“Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution”), 15 in 2011(!), and one in 2010 and 2009.

Hhhmmm… it seems that Inakaya had some problems 2011 but is now in deserving of its A rating (89% percentile).  Anyway, the proof in the sushi is in the eating, so I made the reservation.

As luck would have it, even on a busy Friday night, we were seated at the best seats in the house – right smack in the middle of the robata grill facing the chanting chefs 

Very confident that Inakaya was the right choice, I then regaled my wife about all the stats.  This had the desired effect as she excused herself to go to the powder room.  Whereupon I discreetly ordered from the special (as in budget) Restaurant Week menu while she was away.

The verdict – mechauma!   It was a very happy anniversary indeed – thanks to some luck and Open Data!


So what about the Mochi?  Well, Inakaya has a mochitsuki (mochi-pounding) ceremony every night – a Japanese tradition normally reserved for the New Year.  Everyone fortunate enough to be present when they finish one get complimentary mochi desserts.  Delish!

NOTE: Cross-posted from

AuthorJoel Natividad