Breakfast At Cafe Zaiya, East Village

One of the things I miss the most from Japan is (surprisingly) the bakeries. Perhaps it has a lot to do with their milk, which is much creamier and more flavorful than anything I've had in the States. Anyway, I was determined to recreate my experiences in Japan with whatever one of the biggest cities in the world had to offer. Surely NYC would have decent, authentic Japanese restaurants and bakeries, right?

Thus I discovered the three store chain Cafe Zaiya, which excels in its baked goods and onigiri. It serves other lunch foods as well but I was least interested in those dishes. Their East Village location is small with only three or so tables, but clean and friendly in perfect Japanese style. Although I was saddened to see most of my Japan favorites missing, they do sell a good variety of items, including their thickly sliced square bread, green tea muffins and red bean pastries.

I walked across the street to the small Cooper Square park and ate my sugary red bean bun, a melon bun and some apple tea. As I admired the new Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art building, a bum approached me and asked for part of my breakfast. This is where I learned the valuable lesson do not feed NYC bums. Not only did he proceed to talk to me throughout my entire breakfast, he followed me to the nearby Sunrise Mart and carried my grocery basket full of Asian food.

I later learned he did all of this with the expectation that I give him a dollar. When I countered that I already gave him part of my breakfast - a big sacrifice on my part - he scoffed at me, said some expletives and left.

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