Pitaya is a fairly new Japanese restaurant that is drumming up foot traffic via the all-you-can-eat sushi special and frequent half-price sushi nights. After a horrifying gastrointestinal experience a couple of years ago that I blame on an all-you-can-eat joint on 72nd street, I have stayed away from sushi places running these specials. But some friends have tried Pitaya with no ill effects, so I gave it a shot. Pitaya serves Asian Fusion entres, sushi and a few robata skewers. The sushi was pretty low quality and/or poorly prepared, I had a fish scales with two pieces, a bone in another piece and two other pieces were weirdly chewy. The shishito skewer (grilled Japanese peppers) was quite good, while the shiitake skewer was three large pieces of shiitake mushroom that perhaps had been waved near a grill. Thankfully the gyoza were quite good.
The Dumplings: Pitaya serves traditional pan-fried pork gyoza dumplings that were nice and crispy on the bottom surface (unlike Sun Chan – which other than its gyoza I love) while the rest of the wrapper was soft and supple. The filling had a good savory pork flavor with just enough chive to mixed in to provide a slight peppery taste.
The Dipping Sauce: the gyoza came with a really good dipping sauce that was light, with a sweet-sour rice vinegar flavor and just a little soy sauce.
Location: Pitaya is on 105th street between Broadway and Amsterdam in the old Zen Palate space next to the classic Abbey Pub.