A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 24, 2004
Negimaki or Negimayaki
Japanese food is booming here and this is one of the early New York City classics--or is it?

According to John Mariani's Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (1979): "The word is from the Japanese negi (onion) plus maki (wound around). The dish, which has become popular in Japanese restaurants in the United States, was created at New York's Nippon Restaurant in 1963 by owner Nobuyoshi Kuaoka under the prompting of New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne, who thought the restaurant should have more interesting beef dishes for the American customer. Kuaoka originally called the dish 'negimayaki.'"

That should solve it, but it doesn't. A New York Times text search of "Claiborne" and "Nippon" doesn't turn up anything relevant. I tried "negimaki" and "negimayaki" and "negima-yaki," with the results below. The Los Angeles Times digitization is now through 1964, and I'm still waiting for a "California roll" in its pages. If I see an earlier "negimaki" or "negimayaki," I'll add it here.


Wikipedia: Negimaki
Negimaki (ねぎ巻き) is a Japanese food consisting of broiled strips of beef marinated in teriyaki sauce and rolled with scallions (negi). The dish originated in Manhattan in the 1960's at Restaurant Nippon] after the New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne suggested that something with beef was needed to appeal to the American diner. According to the dish's inventor, Nobuyoshi Kuraoka, it was a variation of a dish traditionally made with Bluefin tuna.

11 November 1963, New York (NY) Times, pg. 37:
They are the Nippon at 145 East 52d Street, and the new Saito at 131 West 52d Street (...) Although sushi may seem a trifle "far out" for many American palates, such dishes as teriyaki (steak, pork or chicken marinated in soy sauce and grilled), shiwo-yaki (pork or chicken broiled with salt and served with a soy and lemon sauce), as well as the familiar tempura and sukiyaki, have an immediate and almost universal appeal.
(It's not mentioned here -- ed.)

5 December 1975, New York (NY) Times, "Restaurant Reviews: A Neotraditional Japanese 'Farmhouse' That Delights in Good Food and Service" by John Canady, pg. 55, col. 2:
(Robata, 30 East 61st Street. -- ed.)
Among the appetizers (we give prices of full portions here - you get smaller poritons with dinners) we had an excellent negimaki - beef wrapped around scallions with teriyaki sauce ($2.75).

23 December 1977, Valley News (Van Nuys, CA), pg. 41, col. 2:
Inagiku Menu Highlights
9th Floor, Bonaventure Hotel
5th And Figueroa, Downtown Los Angeles
(...) negimayaki, $2..50 (...)

13 April 1979, New York (NY) Times, pg. C18:
Negima-yaki, tender beef roll-ups wrapped around scallions and broiled in a soy marinade, were lovely and firm one night, but at another time were much too soft and drowned in sauce.
(Mimi Sheraton's one-star review of Nippon, 145 East 62d Street--ed.)
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, July 24, 2004 • Permalink