Some places, like well-kept-secret Kyo Ya, haven't forgotten. What's even better, they have the off-the-beaten-path, tiny gem, unmarked entrance thing to boot.
Even if you're looking for it, it's easy to miss. On the south side of East 7th street, look for a little wooden sign on a wrought-iron gate reading simply "Open." Head down the short flight of stairs, and you'll find a cozy underground sliver of a posh Japanese izakaya.
The gleaming space is simple and lush, with undulating rippled cherry walls and warm Japanese-paper lighting. There are only 8 tables, a bar and a chef's counter (use the no-reservations bar counter for spontaneous drop-ins).
As for the food, unique dishes parade one surprise after another, from the non-alcoholic yet must-try Goma Tofu Cocktail, to the Gyu Tan (tender miso-marinated beef tongue) and the delicate Bozushi (a "pressed sushi" roll like you've never seen). But the real way to go here may be the 10-course kaiseki menu, a traditional seasonal chef's tasting that must be reserved two days in advance, because they fly in special ingredients from Japan (good things do come to those who wait.)
In fact, you may be tempted to take down that "Open" sign.