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A unique place that makes you feel like going back over and over again, not just because of the good price and taste

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By Aya Ota

In Korean Town, where the lights are illuminated 24 hours a day, people are walking around all day long, and there are so many Korean restaurants, there is a Japanese restaurant in a corner, for which people always wait in line. This is “Izakaya Mew”. Customers start coming in as soon as the door opens at 5pm, and the place has its peaks between 6 and 8. It is so popular, and you almost always have to wait for tens of minutes to get in.

“What’s the key to your success?”
I asked. “The reasonable prices and good taste,” answered the manager, Keisuke Oku, simply. It is not easy to achieve “reasonable prices and good taste” in New York where rents are so high, and so is the competition. As I was asking deeper into the reason why they have grown to be the kind of a restaurant which can collect customers only through word of mouth with almost no advertising, but through repeated trial and error, and creating a virtuous cycle since the opening, I was finally able to see the true reason.

One reason is its location. Despite the standard for the restaurant locations in New York being on the surface of the streets, they dared to choose a basement to cut the cost in half. Naturally, the entrance is inconspicuous with a quiet sign and noren on top of the stairs that lead to downstairs. Despite the fact that it is so easy to miss even if you know the location, customers who seek “reasonable prices and good taste” form a line. There is more. They do not take reservations.

They used to take reservations at the beginning, but it tended to create empty time and tables. So they stopped taking reservations, and instead, started to take in the next group of waiting customers as soon as a table became available. This change made the operation more effective. Of course, they have to make customers wait, but customers do not complain at all. Some wait in the bar area created as a waiting space for drinking, or leave names and come back later.
They know that once they are seated, “reasonable priced and good tasting food” is waiting to be served. Among many restaurants in Korean Town which are open 24 hours a day, they close relatively early, which is another key to running the restaurant effectively.

In the menu, you find over 100 izakaya style dishes in total which are rich in ingenuity. The items are categorized as “Toriaezu”, “Tataki”, “Hot Pot”, “Deep Fried”, “Salads”, “Grilled”, “Stir Fried”, “Noodles”, “Ramen”, “Rice”, “Sushi Rolls”, “Desserts, etc. Izakaya specialty menu items are difficult to visualize just from the names, but each item is photographed to make it easy to know what it is and its volume. “Salmon Sashimi Tacos” ($7.95), a popular dish, has familiar ingredients of sauce marinated salmon and guacamole, and is well received for its unique creation as tacos. “Omu Soba” ($11.95), which is omelet wrapped yakisoba topped with dried bonito shavings and green seaweed flakes (ao-nori), is a very familiar item for Japanese people, but attracts curiosity of non-Japanese customers. Their 5 main chefs are supposed to come up with new seasonal menu items every month to make it possible to satisfy even the repeating customers by continuing to offer different dishes. Among those new items which became popular, some would be added to the standard regular menu, so the menu is kept fresh with those constant changes.

Mr. Oku continues, “I want to convey the izakaya culture of Japan.” This restaurant is highly claimed by Trip Advisor, and attracts tourists from both inside and outside the US. Since many of them are not familiar with the izakaya style, they also teach them how to enjoy izakaya. “You can place food orders any time at your own pace,” and “Dishes are meant to be shared with everyone in the group” are some of the teachings. Those who used to be unfamiliar at the beginning get soon familiarized, and can truly enjoy the unique style. In order to convey the izakaya-like ambiance, they pay close attention to create a lively atmosphere. One-of-a-kind, nostalgic interior decorations and vintage furniture helps to create such the unique ambiance, which may also be one of the reasons why they are so popular among the customers in their 20’s and 30’s.

“Izakaya Mew” has just entered its 5th year this summer. Please visit this undeniably charming restaurant which not only offers “reasonable prices and good taste”, but also makes you feel like going back over and over again.


24時間灯りがともり、人々の往来が途絶えない街、コリアンタウン。韓国料理店がひしめき、日本食店がほとんど存在しないこの地域の一角に、行列の絶えない日本食店が存在する。『Izakaya Mew』——夕方5 時の開店と共に、続々と客が入ってきて、6 〜7 時台にはピークを迎え、常に数十分待ちの行列ができる人気店だ。

「成功の秘訣は?」との問いに、「安くて美味しい」とシンプルに答えるのは、同店のマネージャー、奥慶介氏。家賃が高く競争の厳しいニューヨークで“ 安くて美味しい” を実現するのは決して簡単なことではない。さらに深く掘り下げて聞くと、開店以来、試行錯誤を重ね、好循環を作りだし、ほとんど宣伝することなしに口コミで集客できる店に成長した理由を伺い知ることができた。

まずは、立地条件。ニューヨークでは、レストランの立地は路面が常識と考えられているが、あえて地下を選んだことで、家賃を路面の約半額に抑えている。当然、入り口は目立たず、地下に降りる階段のあたりに、ひっそりと暖簾と看板があるのみ。場所を知っていてもうっかり通り過ぎてしまうほどだが、客は“ 安くて美味しい” を目指して列を作る。もう一つの特徴は予約を取らないこと。開店当初は予約を取っていたが、どうしても空き時間や空席ができてしまう。そこで、予約を取らず、席が空き次第、次の客を入れるようにオペレーションを変更した結果、効率が上がったという。当然、客を待たせることになるが、ウェイティング・スペースとなっているバーで一杯飲みながら待つ客もいれば、名前を書いて外に出て戻ってくる客もいる。いったん着席すれば “ 安くて美味しい” が待っていると分かっているので、客からのクレームは一切ない。24 時間開店している店も珍しくないこのコリアンタウンで、閉店時間が早いのも特徴的で、これも効率のよいオペレーションに一役買っている。

メニューには、創意工夫に富んだ居酒屋料理が並んでいる。「とりあえず」に始まり、「たたき」「鍋」「揚げ物」「サラダ」「焼き物」「炒め物」「麺類」「ラーメン」「ご飯物」「寿司ロール」「デザート」という具合にカテゴリ分けされており、その数は約100 種類にも及ぶ。居酒屋特有の料理にはメニュー名を見ただけでは、内容を想像しにくいものも多いが、すべてのメニューに写真が掲載されており、量や内容をイメージしやすい。人気メニューの『サーモン刺身タコス』($7.95)は、タレに漬け込んだサーモンとワカモレという馴染みの食材を使いつつも、タコスに仕上げるという異色の組み合わせが受けている。焼きそばをオムレツで包み、鰹節と青のりを振りかけた『オムソバ』($11.95)は、日本人には馴染みがある居酒屋メニューだが、非日本人には好奇心をそそる。同店では、メインのシェフ5 人が、毎月、季節感あふれる新作メニューを提案することになっており、リピーター客を飽きさせることもない。季節の新作メニューで人気が出たものは定番メニューに投入し、常にメニューの入れ替えを図っているので、常に新鮮だ。

「日本の居酒屋文化を伝えたい」と奥氏は続ける。同店は、トリップアドバイザーで高評価を得ていることから、米国内外からの観光客も多く、居酒屋を知らない客も多い。「いつでも好きなタイミングで料理を注文できること」「みんなでシェアして食べること」など、居酒屋の楽しみ方を教えている。はじめは不慣れだった客も、居酒屋独自のスタイルを満喫しているという。居酒屋らしさを伝えるためにも、活気あふれる雰囲気作りにも気を配っている。独特でノスタルジックな雰囲気を醸し出すインテリアやヴィンテージ感ある家具や調度品も特徴的だ。このお洒落さも20 〜30代を中心に人気がある理由の一つなのだろう。

この夏から5 年目に突入した『IzakayaMew』。安くて美味しいだけじゃない、何度も通いたくなる不思議な魅力のある店、ぜひ足を運んでみてほしい。

Izakaya Mew
Basement, 53 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10001
(646) 368-9384

LUNCH: Mon-Fri 12:00pm-2:20pm
DINNER: Mon-Thurs 5:00pm-10:30pm
Fri & Sat 5:00pm-11:30am
Sun 5:00pm-10:00pm
#alljapannews #izakayamew #newyork #omusoba #ramen #sushi

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Legendary bar where all the seats are always taken due to its demonstration of skills, good taste, and services of true Japan

Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ... Legendary bar where all the ...
by Aya Ota

In the East Village, a vibrant town of condensation of diverse ethnic groups and cultures, you first climb a set of stairs to an izakaya, get inside, walk through it, glancing at people enjoying themselves over yakitori and beers on the way, then you reach a hidden door. When you push open the door which still looks like a wall, a classy and relaxing space opens up in front of you. It makes you feel as if you just entered an unknown world. This is “Angel’s Share”, a speakeasy, which has a reputation as the most popular bar in New York. It is unbelievable that there is such a bar hidden in a place like this. The bar is known as a mystery bar where you can hardly get in because it is always full.

Once you step into the bar, a female bartender who shakes a shaker behind the counter looking solemn draws your attention. She is Nana Shimosegawa, General Manager, who supervises the entire operation of the bar. She demonstrates her skills there as the first and only female bartender for this bar. In her career, she started working as a maître d' back in 2008. She built her experience at “Zest” in Ebisu, Tokyo, and never even thought about becoming a bartender in New York which is a totally different environment. However, her talent was spotted by the then head bartender, and she started training to become a bartender from the very bottom level. After 3 years of internship, she became a certified bartender in 2011, got promoted to a manager in 2012, and then has been working at the current position since 2016.

This bar first opened in 1994 with the concept “A space like a bar in Ginza where people enjoy good liquors in a relaxed atmosphere”. “Angel’s Share” after which the bar was named derives from evaporation that occurs during whiskey brewing during the barrel storing and aging processes. The name was taken from the traditional belief in which whiskey loses its volume during aging because an angel is secretly drinking it, and in return, the angel gives whiskey the aroma and depth.

Ms. Shimosegawa says, “I try to adopt the latest trends assertively while I respect the classical cocktail culture at the same time.” “Moon Light” ($15), a cocktail created by her, can be enjoyed by ladies who cannot drink much alcohol. The base is gin infused by juniper and raw honey. It is a perfect combination of fresh citrus aroma, and smooth textures of milk and egg white. This bar has a good reputation for the delicate flavored cocktails using Japanese ingredients as accents, which you can only find in bars like this one which are run by Japanese people. “Flirtibird” ($15) consists of true barley shochu and yuzu juice as the base. The plum salt on the rim of the glass, and shiso powder floating on the surface make this cocktail’s aroma and taste stand out. “Milky Way” is another cocktail created by Ms. Shimosegawa. Its base is Junmai sake. Ingredients which you do not normally think for cocktails such as soy milk and parmigiana cheese give this cocktail a unique and fabulous harmony. Every time you bring the glass close to your mouth, you can enjoy the smell of the aromatic powder soy sauce. She also interestingly uses other Japanese ingredients such as koji, sesame oil, matcha, and wa-sanbon sugar.

The secret hideout-like ambiance should be one of the reasons for its popularity. However, as soon as you taste some of the original cocktails, you would understand the true reasons for attracting customers constantly, are the taste, quality and high skills of the staff. On the menu, there are about 35 cocktails, and new items will be added a few times a year to give a good balance to the selection. The number of liquors used in the cocktails is as many as 4~500 to my surprise, which was the result of careful selection based on taste and quality. They are trying to differentiate themselves from other bars by carrying not only Japanese sake, but Japan-made whiskey, vodka, liquors, and beers.

“It is important for the bartender to have the ability to find what the customer wants instantly,” continues Ms. Shimosegawa. There are many customers who intentionally order cocktails that are not on the menu to try the bartender’s skill. They make all kinds of requests such as “something with gin as the base”, “something with a fresh and light taste”, “something summer-like”, “something that suits me”, etc. The bartender needs to detect the customer’s preference by observing the person, mood, and situation.

“Angel’s Share” opened the second bar next to it about 3 years ago due to high demands. This one is also a hideout-like bar whose entrance is hard to find. They sure are legendary. They never advertise and there are no signs, but customers constantly fill the entire seats only by word of mouth. I am certain that you would understand why people would want to tell someone about this bar once they visit.


多種多様な人種の文化が凝縮し活気あふれる街、イーストヴィレッジ。一軒の居酒屋へ向かう階段を上り店内に入り、焼き鳥やビールで盛り上がる人々を横目に、一見壁に見える隠し扉を押す。すると、そこには上品で落ち着いた雰囲気の空間が広がり、別世界に入り込んだような錯覚を覚える。ここは、ニューヨークで最も人気が高いと評判のスピークイージー、『Angel’s Share』。こんな場所にバーが潜んでいるとは全く想像できないが、常に満席でなかなか入店できない幻のバーとして知られている。


「銀座のバーのような、美味しいお酒を落ち着いて楽しめる空間」というコンセプトで同店が開店したのは1994年。店名の由来となった「Angel’s Share(天使の分け前)」とは、ウィスキーを樽貯蔵・熟成する過程で起こる蒸発のことを示す表現だ。熟成中のウィスキーが減っていくのは天使がこっそり飲んでいるからで、その代わりに、天使はウィスキーに香りや深みを与えてくれる…という言い伝えを、店名にした。

「クラッシックなカクテル文化を大事にしつつ、最新の流行を積極的に取り入れるよう心がけている」と下瀬川氏は語る。同氏が創作したカクテル『Moon Light』(15ドル)は、酒に強くない女性でも楽しめるようにと考案したもので、ジュニパーと生蜂蜜がインフューズされたジンがベース。柑橘類の爽やかな香りと、牛乳や卵白で作るなめらかな口当たりが絶妙な組み合わせだ。日本人経営のバーならでは、和食材をアクセントに使った繊細な味のカクテルも評価が高い。『Flirtibird』(15ドル)は本格麦焼酎と柚子果汁がベース。グラスの縁につけられたプラムソルトと表面に浮かぶ紫蘇が、全体の香りや味を引き立てる。『Milly Way』も下瀬川氏が創作したレシピで、純米酒がベース。豆乳やパルミジャーノチーズといった、カクテルの固定概念を覆す食材を取り入れ、独特だが見事な調和を醸し出している。グラスに口を近づける度に、粉末醤油が芳ばしく、心地よい。他に、麹、胡麻油、抹茶、和三盆糖などの和食材を取り入れており興味深い。



『Angel’s Share』は、そのあまりの人気の高さゆえに、約3年前、隣に2号店を開店した。やはり入り口の分からない隠れ家バーだ。一切の宣伝もせず、看板もなく、口コミだけで満席が続く伝説の店。一度訪れると、誰かに教えたくなってしまう気持ちが分かるに違いない。

Angel’s Share
8 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-777-5415
#Japanese #alljapannews #angelsshare #bar #izakaya #newyork #yakitori

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Japanese-style cooking created by New York-born Japanese

Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create... Japanese-style cooking create...
By Aya Ota

In NoHo district of Manhattan, there is a restaurant that stands hidden like a hideout. Once you step into the place, a nostalgic and warm space opens out in front of you.

“We would like all kinds of people to relax and enjoy in a nostalgic ambience,” the owner, Maiko Kyogoku explains about the origin of the name, “Bessou” (which means a vacation home). She is a true New Yorker who never lived in Japan although both of her parents are Japanese. She says that she recognized her identity as Japanese, and learned Japanese culture through the home cooking made by her parents. She opened this restaurant hoping to have people enjoy Japanese home-style cooking, not limited to sushi, ramen, etc.

The concept of the restaurant fully reflects Ms. Kyogoku’s personality and characteristics. Creativity and ingenuity that are unique to a New York-born Japanese can be seen everywhere in the restaurant where both elements of tradition and innovation co-exist.

The menu was created by Ms. Kyogoku and Emily Yuen, the executive chef. Ms. Yuen has worked and shown her skills in various well-known Michelin-star awarded restaurants, and is specialized in world-wide cuisines including French and Mediterranean. She was also trained by the father of Ms. Kyogoku who was the owner/chef of “Sushi Rikyu” to master the basics of traditional and genuine Japanese cuisine. She also uses ingredients and the cooking style of Tohoku regions because Ms. Kyogoku’s mother is from Akita. Ms. Kyogoku says, “This restaurant is an extension of my home, and I want it to be the home of every customer who comes here”. The menu reflects her remark, and there are even items with ingredients and styles of Middle Eastern and European cuisines, which provides a mysterious nostalgic feeling to everybody.

In order to help customers to imagine the volume of each dish, the menu is categorized into 3 sections; “Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites”, “Small Dishes”, and “Large Dishes”. Each dish is named as simple as possible, but also tried to make it easy for the customers who are not familiar with izakaya-style menus to understand by including some English words to familiarize them. The same effort has been tried for the sake menu. Instead of Junmai, Dai-Ginjo, etc., it is categorized by the flavors such as “Balanced, Dry, and Clean”, “Juicy, Fragrant, and Rich”, etc. to make it easier to decide.

“Grilled Romaine” ($14) is a plate of grilled Romaine lettuce topped with dried baby sardines and quail eggs covered with creamy sesame dressing. Some Americans think that it tastes similar to American Cesar salad. “Fritto Miso” ($18) is an item which has a large gap from the image of Japanese name, Namban-zuke. The version which a Japanese person normally imagine is fried and sauce-covered, but in their version, the sauce is on the side. The sauce accented by mayor lemons is not thickened, and refreshing. The “Inaniwa Udon” ($24) is served with kakiage vegetable tempura which is fluffy and stands tall like a tower to please your eyes. This dish is an excellent combination of rightly textured udon noodles and crunchy kakiage. Kakuni is usually made with pork, but their “Beef Short Rib Kakuni” ($34) is beef. The boldly served boned beef is cooked to so tender that the meat falls off of the bones easily. This dish is served with the side of home-made satsuma-age fish cake and chickpeas, which looks like cocido, a Spanish dish, to some customers. There are not many items in the menu, but each item is intricately prepared, and very unique.

Although they never advertise, they were featured in “zagat”, “New York Times”, etc. immediately after its opening with good reviews, and customers have been kept coming without a break ever since. “We don’t need to serve popular items such as sushi and ramen to keep running this place successfully. The new Yorkers are adventuresome and full of spirit, and always seek new and different cuisines,” says Ms. Kyogoku, analyzing the reason for the success.  

Although Ms. Kyogoku’s father was running a sushi restaurant, he did not really wanted her to get into the restaurant business. It may be because he knew this non-stop and hard scheduled business so well through his own experience.

However, Ms. Kyogoku had loved the restaurant environment ever since she was very young, and always had a dream of someday having her own restaurant. She was once employed by an artist, Takashi Murakami, but after quitting the job, she built her restaurant career working in various top-class restaurants as a hostess, a manager, or an event director until she finally opened her own place in August of 2016. Using such extensive experience, she sometimes holds an event to learn how to make gyoza, offers Japanese traditional and seasonal dishes such as new-years osechi, or seasonal nabe dishes, etc. She also started to hold the test kitchen event by inviting a guest chef, and also started to offer week-end brunch. This is a place where the possibility of Japanese home cooking widens. I urge you to visit this restaurant!




メニューは、京極氏とエミリー・ユアン料理長で考案した。ユアン氏はミシュラン星を獲得した数々の名店で腕を奮い、フレンチや地中海など世界各国の料理に精通したシェフだ。ユアン氏は、かつて『Sushi Rikyu』のオーナーシェフを務めた京極氏の父親から訓練を受け、本格的かつ伝統的な日本料理の基礎をしっかり身につけたという。そして、京極氏の母親が秋田県出身ということを意識し、秋田をはじめとした東北地方由来の食材や料理も取り入れている。「この店は、自分の家庭の延長でもあり、訪れる客全員にとっての家庭でもありたい」と京極氏が語るように、メニューからは、中東や欧米料理で使われるような素材や味付けを感じることもあり、誰にとっても不思議な懐かしさがある。

メニュー構成は、居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客でも、量を想像しやすいように「おつまみ/Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites」「前菜/Small Dishes」「主菜/Large Dishes」の3つに分類している。メニュー名はできるだけシンプルにしつつも、米国人に親しみのある単語を入れて、内容を分かりやすく説明するよう心がけている。日本酒メニューも、純米や大吟醸という種類ではなく、「Balance, Dry,Clean」「Juicy, Fragrant, Rich」のようにフレーバーで分類し、選びやすい工夫をしている。



5 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-228-8502

Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30PM
#Japanese #alljapannews #bessou #manhattan #newyork #noho #restaurant

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Counter only small diner to enjoy creative Japanese cuisine, sake, and wine

Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en... Counter only small diner to en...
By Aya Ota

Brick walls, spacious wooden counter, tastefully decorated interior, and beautiful tableware---It is a space which looks like an art gallery, but actually a restaurant that magically makes you feel welcomed. The restaurant is “Rabbit House”, where you can enjoy creative Japanese style tapas dishes with sake and wine in a casual ambience. It is located in the middle point between the Lower East Side and China Town, where some changes have been seen lately with new comers of galleries and general stores, but still mainly occupied by Chinese restaurants and general stores. It is rather surprising to see such a sophisticated looking space hidden in such an area.

“I like to cook, but I like to eat even more. I also like to drink sake and wine. Nothing pleases me more than hearing people enjoy my cooking, and sake that I eagerly selected myself”, says Yoshiko Sakuma, the owner and chef. Rabbit House opened in March of 2016 to realize her extremely simple passion. Her grandparents were farmers, and her parents were both cooks. She developed the delicate sense of tastes in growing up surrounded by fresh and high-quality food ingredients. It must have been natural for her to grow up to be in the cooking world. She came to the United States 20 years ago, and built up experiences working in notable restaurants and bakeries, and in 2010, went to Italy and Spain to show off her skills in various restaurants.

As implied in her quote, “I want to offer our customers something that leaves an impression which nowhere else can,” the dishes Ms. Sakuma creates are full of originality and playfulness, which you don’t see anywhere else. The “Oyster Shot” in the Tasting Course offered as an amusement, is an oyster dish with dessert wine jelly and beer poured over it. You indulge yourself in tasting the superb harmony of freshness, sweetness, and slight bitterness while admiring the beautiful presentation. The “Addicted Spare Rib” has a volume that exceeds the category of an appetizer. It is a unique dish marinated in sake and soy sauce overnight, and flavored with curry spice. As the name indicates, the taste is addictive, and the regulars order this dish all the time. The “Trapped Rabbit” is a dish of extracted umami. Shiitake mushrooms and baby carrots are rolled up with rabbit meat caul fat. Every dish gives you a surprise and an impression when delivered in front of you, and again when you taste it. The carefully selected line of alcoholic beverages is also unique by her extensive knowledge in sake as a sake sommelier, and wine knowledge she acquired in Spain and Italy, which you do not see anywhere else. You cannot help keep pairing with every dish you taste.

The name, Rabbit House, literally means a house for rabbits, and is an expression to deprecatingly indicate how small Japanese houses are. The eating space has only 9 counter seats, and basically only one person handles everything from cooking to serving. All the menu items--appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and cocktails, are created by her. The ingredients don’t come from any particular place, but are carefully selected based on the taste. Especially the quality of selected meat is at a fine dining level. Although the menu items have been narrowed down, this one person makes everything with a lot of care without skipping any necessary steps in this limited kitchen space. She also accommodates for vegan and gluten-free requests.

“Every day is a process of trial and error. I am good at creating, but not at selling,” says Ms. Sakuma. She said that it was difficult to attract customers to the restaurant because of the location that has not much traffic. She used the “Groupon” vouchers for advertisement, but it worked negatively for the image of the restaurant, and resulted in bad reviews. She turned all those mistakes around, and changed them to positive power, pursued what should be done in this limited space and man-power, and kept trying to make improvements. She reached a conclusion, which was, “to tell customers what I can do, and what I cannot do clearly. Customers’ satisfaction relies heavily on good communication.” This straight-forwardness and honesty of Ms. Sakuma must be one of the appeals of this restaurant. Now, supported by the regular customers, they get reviewed highly on the internet, and has become able to attract customers by word of mouth.

Actually, there used to be 6 tables in addition to the existing 9 counter seats before, but it was changed not long ago to the present operation style. She would like to take in the “Chef’s Tasting Table” concept, and have customers enjoy conversations while enjoying the tastes of food and wine. I truly look forward to the future development of this restaurant.


煉瓦造りの壁、広々とした木製カウンター、センスのよい調度品や食器類……まるでギャラリーのような空間だが、不思議に居心地のよい店がある。ここ『Rabbit House』では、創意工夫に富んだ和風タパスと一緒に日本酒やワインをカジュアルに楽しめる。場所はロウワーイーストサイドとチャイナタウンの中間地点。最近でこそギャラリーや雑貨店なども新しく登場し変化を遂げつつあるが、まだまだ中国系飲食店や雑貨店が多く建ち並ぶこの地域に、「まさか、こんな洒落た店がひっそりと隠れているなんて」と驚かされる。

「作るのも好きだが食べるのはもっと好き。お酒やワインも好き。自分が作った料理を喜んでもらえて、自分がこだわって選んだお酒を美味しいと言ってもらえるのが、何よりうれしい」――オーナーシェフを務める佐久間良子氏の至極シンプルな情熱を形にして、2016年3月に誕生したのが、この『Rabbit House』だ。佐久間氏は、祖父母は農家、両親は料理人という家系で生まれ育ち、新鮮で高品質な素材に囲まれ、繊細な味覚を養ってきた。同氏が料理の道に進んだのはごく自然な流れだったのだろう。約20年前に渡米後は、ニューヨークの蒼々たるレストランやベーカリーで経験を積み、2010年にはイタリアとスペインに渡り、数々の店で腕を奮ってきた。

「世の中に数多くの店がある中で、うちに来てくれた客には、印象に残る何かを提供したい」と語る佐久間氏が創り出す料理は、他店にはない独創性と遊び心にあふれている。テイスティングコースを注文するとアミューズとして登場する「Oyster Shot」は、牡蠣にデザートワインで作ったゼリーとビールを注いだ一品。美しい盛り付けに目を奪われながら、爽やかさと甘さとほろ苦さの絶妙な調和を堪能する。「Addicted Spare Rib」は、とても前菜とは思えないボリューム。日本酒と醤油で一晩漬け込み、カレースパイスで風味付けした独創的な一品。名前の通り病みつきになる味で、常連客も毎回注文するほどだ。「Trapped Rabbit」は、椎茸やベイビーキャロットをウサギ肉と網脂で巻き込み、うま味を凝縮した一品。どの料理も、目の前に出される度に、そして料理を口に運ぶ度に、感動と驚きがある。酒ソムリエとしての日本酒知識と、スペイン・イタリア滞在で身につけたワインの知識をフルに活かして厳選した酒類ラインナップも個性的で、他店にはない品揃えだ。思わず料理とのペアリングも進んでしまう。

店名の『Rabbit House』は文字通り「ウサギ小屋」という意味で、日本人の住居が狭いことを自嘲気味に表現するときに使われる言葉だ。店内は、カウンター9席のみで、基本的に一人で料理から接客まで対応する。前菜、メイン、デザートやカクテルに至るまで、すべて自ら考案したものだ。原料は産地にこだわらず、美味しいと思う原料を厳選、特に肉はファインダイニングと同品質のものを使っている。メニュー数は絞り込んでいるものの、限られたスペースの厨房で、たった一人で、一切の手抜きなしで丁寧に作り込む。さらにヴィーガンやグルテンフリーにも対応している。


実は、かつてはカウンター9席に加え、テーブル6席もあったが、カウンター中心の運営にしたのはごく最近のことだ。今後は「Chef’s Tasting Table」のコンセプトも取り入れ、客と対話しながら、料理や酒を味わってもらいたいと考えている。今後の展開がますます楽しみな店だ。

Rabbit House
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002
Tel: 212-343-4200

Tue - Thu & Sun 5:00 - 11:00 pm
Fri & Sat 5:00 pm - 0:00 am

Sat & Sun 12 - 4:00 pm

Mon: Closed
#alljapannews #cuisine #japanese #newyork #rabbithouse #sake

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Secchu Yokota

Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota Secchu Yokota
Tempura omakase course offered at a reasonable price in a theater-like setting has quickly become the talk of the town

By Aya Ota

At the east end of the East Village district on Alphabet City which is not really an ideal location, there is a restaurant that has been consistently having a good flow of customers since its opening. It is “Seccu Yokota”. There are 8 counter seats only, and rotations are limited to only 2 per day. They serve a tempura-based omakase tasting course at $65. The restaurant gained popularity very quickly as “A place where you can get a high-quality course meal with many different dishes at a reasonable price”. They do not advertise or even have a sign in front, but they are always busy with customers who come from far away, frequent repeaters who often come monthly, etc.

The owner/chef, Atsushi Yokota, shares how the name of the restaurant came about, as “the principle of Japanese cuisine is wayo-secchu (blend of Japanese and Western style), and so is mine”. He grew up in a circumstance where both his father and the grandfather were chefs, so it was natural to get into the cooking world for Mr. Yokota who developed a delicate palate since childhood. In Japan, he started his cooking career in French cuisine. After coming to U.S. in 1998, he has continued to create imaginative and original wayo-secchu cuisine by working in various different restaurants, and by blending world-wide ingredients and Japanese and Western techniques.

The course starts with two appetizers which are full of seasonal ingredients. Mr. Yokota goes to a farmer’s market himself to procure the food ingredients, comes up with a menu according to what he purchased, and makes everything from scratch. The signature appetizer is the “Oyako Pâté”. This dish was hinted by the “Oyako Donburi” which is a very familiar dish to Japanese people, and served with pâté made from aged sashimi-grade fresh chicken mixed with soft-boiled eggs. This harmony created by the combination of pâté and eggs is superb, and represents the extracted concept of wayo-secchu. Next, you get 7 to 8 different tempura pieces consisting of vegetables and seafood cooked right in front of you. Since the restaurant is not a tempura specialty restaurant, the imagination is unconventional. Sometimes unique tempura where no other restaurant ventures such as of seaweed-marinated flounder, miso-marinated butter fish and others are served. To end the course, a rice or soba dish is usually served, but occasionally, things like tongue stew, lamb chop, curry rice, or meunière are served, which will surely tempt you to visit again. The dessert is ample in volume, and satisfying. The Japanese sake selection changes often with the season, and the volume is generous compared to other restaurants, yet the pricing is lower.

What makes it possible for them to offer such a high-quality course meal at such a reasonable price remains a secret of efficient operations and cost management. Only three staff including Mr. Yokota; 2 chefs and 1 server, works there. They share every task from dish washing to paper-work equally amongst themselves. The number of customers are set, and the menu is omakase style, which minimizes the waste of ingredients. The fixed costs such as labor and food are very well managed. Even the customers need to accept the restaurant’s system. To limit the rotations per day to 2, which starts at 6pm and 8:30pm, the cooking won’t usually start until all 8 seats are filled. If you are late, you may trouble the rest of the people waiting, so every customer needs to be conscious about punctuality. Not only for efficiency in operations, but this rule is also essential to serve temperature and time-sensitive tempura and other cooked food at the best possible timing. The restaurant can accommodate for the allergies of customers, but not for other details such as likes and dislikes in foods. They take reservations only by phone so they won’t miss explaining the system firmly in advance. “It is alright to accept only the kind of customers who love our food, and accept the system.” It sounds a bit too optimistic to me. It is a different attitude, and they are a unique presence in the restaurant industry in New York where you may find many arrogant customers at times. “The customers and the restaurant should be equal. I would like to create a trusting and respectful relationship with the customers,” Mr. Yokoto continues.

“Our restaurant is like a theater where people buy $65-tickets to enjoy a 2-and-a-half hour show.” He is confident that no one can mimic his cooking which is based on indisputable techniques and experiences. I heard that many chefs in the same industry come, and enjoy exchanging information. Please try to go “Secchu Yokota” where you can find something new and be impressed every time.







Secchu Yokota
199 East 3rd Street
New York, NY 10009
Tel: (212) 777-1124

Mon–Thu: 6:00pm–11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 6:00pm-12:00am
Closed on Sunday
#alljapannews #newyork #secchu #tempura #yokota

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“Sashimi. sushi, soba, and sake……A place where you can satisfy your palate in a sophisticated way

“Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi... “Sashimi. sushi...
By Aya Ota

There is a restaurant that has a dignified appearance which makes you feel like stopping by in a corner of the busy East Village. When you step into the space as you are gravitated towards it, a noble and intense looking corridor runs before your eyes, and you feel as if you are entering another world. That is the “Ise Restaurant”, where you first taste a few slices of sashimi, and then leisurely enjoy sake with appetizers that contain various seasonal ingredients. After that, you complete the meal with sushi or soba; which is the way of a sophisticated eater. The customers in the East Village area are generally young people, and many of the dining places are casual. Among them, Ise is a rare place with a mature ambience where you can quietly enjoy meals and sake.

“Ise” is a long-lasting Japanese restaurant group which has been loved by New Yorkers for a long time since its founding in 1988. They are located in MidTown and Wall Street, and known as izakaya-style restaurants with all genres of Japanese cuisine. This time, the Wall Street location was moved to the East Village, and reborn as a new Ise with a totally brand-new concept.

“I am just doing the usual stuff,” says Masaru Makino in a plain tone, the Executive Chef. He came to the U.S. after building his career in kaiseki style cooking for 5 years in Japan. He is a veteran in this restaurant group who has been displaying his strong skills since the beginning of this group‘s history.

He says that he is just doing the usual stuff so plainly, but I know it is not at all easy to manage this so well as if he is just doing what he is supposed to do, especially at a restaurant that offers the biggest three genres of Japanese cuisine; “sashimi”, “sushi”, and “soba” as their three pillars. Actually, the true no-detail-skipping in preparation and non-compromising attitude can be felt when you taste their food. Their seafood such as blue-fin tuna, red snapper, yellow jack, firefly squid, and sea urchin come directly from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. They pay a lot of attention to how to maintain freshness so they can always offer the freshest ingredients. It is surprising that they even manually create a special mild soy sauce to bring out the best tastes of sushi and sashimi by combining multiple soy sauce brands with mirin and bonito Flake. “Soba”, their signature menu category, which they particularly put a special effort on, is made in-house using buckwheat flour produced in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido. Its smooth, chewy and nicely firm texture is excellent, and even artistic. It cannot be tasted anywhere else. Also excellent is the dashi carefully made with 5 different kinds of dried bonitos. It is so tasty that you want to add to the soba-yu (the hot water in which the soba has been cooked, and is usually served after having a soba dish), and drink the mixture to the last drop. The twenty different sake brands displayed are carefully selected by all of the staff after actually drinking them all. The sake and the food bring out each other’s goodness, and successfully create a wonderful pairing.

“I would like the customers to enjoy our food and sake to the fullest”, continues Mr. Makino. Such thinking is represented also in the interior design. The space among the tables are luxuriously big, and some spaces are set up almost like private rooms divided effectively by plain wood latticework. The bar located near the front entrance is a beautiful space where you also may want to drop by. There, you can either have just a glass of beer, or enjoy a full menu of items just like you are sitting at a table.

Strong impressions and discovery keep coming. It appears that they are really stressing on soba dishes on the surface, but there is more. The sushi counter with only 6 seats is kind of hidden in the back of the restaurant where Mr. Makino himself prepares omakase style dishes. There is also a kaiseki course that changes monthly.

“Ise”, a newly born restaurant which makes you feel that the more often you visit, the more you feel like visiting again, and telling someone about.---It is truly the birth of a great establishment.









Ise Restaurant
63 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 228-4152
#alljapannews #iserestaurant #newyork #sake #sashimi

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Innovative store that offers new-wave yakitori in kaiseki style

Innovative store that offers ne... Innovative store that offers ne... Innovative store that offers ne... Innovative store that offers ne... Innovative store that offers ne...
By Aya Ota

Lately, people are raving about the NoMad district of Manhattan. NoMad stands for North of Madison Square Park, and it covers the area of the whole north side of Madison Square Park. The district used to be under the spotlight for being between Midtown and Downtown, but due to the recent uprising with designer hotels, sophisticated restaurants, and boutiques, the street scenes and peoples’ attitudes there are rapidly changing.

In this district, a restaurant with a new and unique concept, yakitori kaiseki, called “Teisui” opened. This is also the one and only Japanese-owned store in the district.

Mr. Masahiro Hase, Representative Director of All Frontier America Inc. which manages the store, says, “I wanted to do something that only this unique district can provide”. The store name, “Teisui”, was taken from the long-established Inn, “Teisui” in Akita prefecture in Japan operated by the same company. Another reason is the fact that New York and Akita are both situated at 40° North Latitude.

Mr. Nobuaki Watanabe, Chef de Cuisine continues, “We cannot survive the competition by doing the same thing as other yakitori shops in New York where many yakitori specialty stores exist. The concept, yakitori kaiseki, is pretty innovative already, but more surprisingly, their yakitori are prepared very differently from the traditional way which is flavored with tare and salt.

One of their dishes, “Tori-Momo Couscou” is grilled chicken thigh accompanied by couscous, mashed potato, and fried eggplant. The creamy couscous and sweet and spicy tare (yakitori sauce) matches and enhances the chicken perfectly to create a splendid harmony.

Mr. Watanabe says, “I would like to offer the kind of dishes that are not only delicious, but also have a surprising twist.” He always strives for creating dishes that would satisfy your full 5 senses.

The first item that appears in the course menu is “Hassun”, which is an image of smoking volcano, which is created by pouring Gyokuro-tea over dry ice to grab the customers’ heart quickly with its visual and fragrant effect. Each of the beautifully arranged 4 kinds of appetizers has a unique texture and kick, and keeps you discovering something new, and being impressed.

The last course item, “Ishiyaki TEISUI” is a local dish from the Tohoku’s Ojika region, created by the fishermen. This is a dynamically prepared item; in the miso soup served in a cedar container, raw seafood and green onions are thrown in, then a burning hot stone is thrown in! You enjoy watching the miso soup suddenly boil up, and the accompanying sound and the nice smell. Then, you taste the concentrated umami of the ingredients. It is just so impressive.

Chef Watanabe has an experience in working as the director/chef of a popular TV cooking show in Japan. He also used to present his excellent skills in a famous restaurant in Canada. These past experiences may have contributed to today’s success in his ingenious and creative performances.

Many customers are actually shocked about such an unusual yakitori concept at first, but by the end of the 10-course meal, they are well absorbed in the newness, and feel satisfied. Yet, some still wants traditional yakitori with salt and tare-sauce, so they also offer a a-la-carte menu to accommodate such customers.

They are also the first store focused on the style of Akita local cuisine to be different from other yakitori places. The interior has a classy and historical ambiance of the traditional Japanese Inn which is where the name of the store came from, where the Emperor of Japan once stayed. They also offer the same quality hospitality.

Once again, a new food culture has been added to New York! They are planning to offer a new course menu every season. Let’s look forward to new exciting surprises in the coming seasons!


近年注目を浴びているノマド地区。ノマドとは“North of Madison Square Park” の略称で、マディソン・スクエア・パークの北側一帯を指す。ミッドタウンとダウンタウンの間に挟まれて見逃されがちだったこの地区だが、近年、デザイナーズホテルや洒落たレストランやブティックが登場し、街並みも人々の雰囲気も急速に変貌を遂げている。

この地区に、“焼き鳥懐石” という、これまでになかった独創的なコンセプトの店、『Teisui』が登場した。日本人経営の店としてはこの地区唯一の存在でもある。


「焼き鳥を出す店が多く存在するニューヨークでは、他店と同じことをしていては生き残れない」と、料理長を務める渡辺宣考氏が続ける。“焼き鳥懐石”というアイデアも画期的だが、タレや塩を使った従来の焼き鳥とは違い、 さまざまな食材やソースと組み合わせて食べることに驚かされる。





246 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(917) 388-3596

Mon.-Sat./ 5:30pm-10:30pm
#alljapannews #district #newyork #nomado #teisui #yakitori

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Ultimately light-battered various seasonal ingredients that change fixed image

Ultimately light-battered variou... Ultimately light-battered variou... Ultimately light-battered variou...
By Aya Ota

“I’ve never had tempura like this!” – The impressed gourmet New Yorkers rave about “Tempura Matsui”. In New York where you can have all kinds of authentic foods from all over the world, Japanese food is getting more and more specialized. However, as curious as it sounds, there had not been any tempura specialty restaurants. Not only are they the pioneers, you can also say that they changed the stereotype image of tempura. Seasonal fresh ingredients from mountains to the sea are fried and coated in an extremely light batter. Matsui’s tempura doesn’t fit the image of deep fried food. It is more like “trapped in seasonal fresh taste” with skillfully combined ingredients, batter, and oil, to create a harmony. The tempura made and served from across their counter in an efficient and flawless manner was delicate and light. You see no residual oil stain left on the paper under the tempura. It even looks artistic. It is understandable why they have achieved the legendary success of winning the “New York Times Two Stars” rank and the “Michelin One Star” shortly after the opening in July of 2015.

“Tempura Matsui” opened as the fifth store by “America Ootoya Group”. This group opened their first North American store in April of 2012 in the Chelsea District of New York. Subsequently, they opened the second one in August of 2013 in Times Square, and the third one in March of 2015 in Greenwich Village, which is pretty remarkable. Additionally, in 2014, they obtained the right to operate “Robataya NY“, which is a beginning of a new venture for them. The decision to open “Tempura Matsui” came from an incidental reencountering between the late former Chairman, Hisami Mitsumori and the loved and respected late chef, Masao Matsui, who is the legendary chef, and was the chief tempura chef of the famous long-established Japanese restaurant called “Nadaman”. After retiring from a 47-year career, he decided to challenge New York with tempura after meeting Mr. Mitsumori again, and got motivated.

“It is delightful that I can feel how impressed the customers are right there in front of me! I’d like to spread the greatness of tempura more and more,” says the Head Chef, Kiyoshi Chikano. He learned closely under the late Masao Matsui, who suddenly passed away after achieving the goal of opening this New York restaurant. He came to succeed the late Matsui only in May of this year. He insists on the traditional Japanese style without making adjustments with ingredients or the way of cooking to suit the taste of American customers. He prepares the ingredients with great care before coating them with the batter and putting them in the oil. Each ingredient requires slightly different proper timing. He says, “It is impossible to explain in words. You need to be able to feel it by experiencing it repeatedly.” No wonder some say that tempura making is harder than sushi making.

To commemorate the first anniversary, the menu has been renewed. Only one omakase course was offered before, but now the following three different courses are served: “Irodori Course with 6 items that include Tenju” ($140), “Kaiseki Course with 7 items that include your choice of Tasaki - delicately seared sashimi with ponzu dipping sauce - or Ten-Soba” ($180), and “Chef’s Special Kaiseki Course with seven premium items that include sashimi and lobster tempura” ($230). Each course is unique, and regardless of the price difference, all are very satisfying.

“The numbers of both first-time customers and repeaters are increasing,” says Tomonori Takada, the President of America Ootoya Group. Tempura and other dishes can be added to your order from the a-la-carte menu. Tempura is a simple combination of ingredients, batter, and oil, and therefore it is so important to care for the right ingredients. The core ingredients are seafood, which is sent directly by air from the contracted Tsukiji market vendors in Tokyo. The seafood ingredients are so luxurious, and even fresher than sashimi. For the Chef’s Special Kaiseki Course ($230), you have a choice of Tendon, Tencha or Ten-Soba, and the soba is made in a surprisingly particular way in-house using a stone grinder.

As the eating space, there is a private VIP room and a bar in addition to the counter and the tables. The artistic tempura dishes in a sophisticated Japanese style space are presented for your excitement and ultimate surprising pleasure!







Tempura Matsui
222 E 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-986-8885

Open 7 Days: 5:00pm - 10:30pm
#Japanese #alljapannews #matsuri #newyork #tempura

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Becoming a trend setter in a very short time

Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ... Becoming a trend setter in a ...
By Aya Ota

The “Zuma” group has opened 10 contemporary Japanese restaurants all over the world in the cities such as Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dhaka, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, and Rome since they opened the first location in London in 2002. In the United States, following the first location in Miami in 2010, another one opened in the Midtown district of New York in January of 2015, which has already become a trend setter almost immediately.

“To me, cooking is the same as languages. Cooking is communication”, says the executive chef, Oliver Lange. He was already interested in cooking at a tender age. There was a sushi restaurant in the neighborhood where he grew up, which got him familiarized with Japanese cuisine. Later, he toured all over Japan to learn about Japanese cuisine, and was deeply influenced by the Japanese food culture.

While he was expanding his career and gaining excellent reviews as a chef worldwide in Munich, Frankfurt, and London, he met Rainer Becker, the founder of the Zuma Group, at one occasion, and ended up becoming the head chef of the Group’s London restaurant. His superb ability got him promoted to Executive Chef of Zuma in New York in September of 2015, only several months later.

At “Zuma”, you can enjoy modern and elegant Japanese cuisine evolved from traditional and philosophical Japanese culture. In order to create a casual relaxing atmosphere despite of the high-end rich looking interior, the izakaya style of serving was chosen. The dishes delivered one by one from any of the three different sections - the sushi bar, the robata grill, and the principal kitchen - can be shared with your family and friends at your table. For those who are not familiar with izakaya style dining, your server is most willing to explain or answer questions. Many of the customers prefer “omakase” style ordering.

In addition to the standard menu items shared by all the Zuma restaurants worldwide, each one offers different items based on the local ingredients and favorites. Here in New York, there are some original items such as “Freshly Seared Wagyu Sirloin Tataki with Black Truffle Ponzu”, “Saikyo Miso Bun with Uni”, “Grilled Octopus, Lemon Chili Sauce and Yuzu Pickled Fennel”, “Smoked Chutoro, White Asparagus and Yuzu Shallots”. Chef Oliver’s newest creation, “Black Cod Marinated in Saikyo Miso with Wasabi Citrus Sauce” is superb. As he says, “I love to combine miso and citrus flavors”, he delivers this favorite combination of Japanese ingredients well in this dish by gently and flavorfully grilling the thick piece of black cod filet in magnolia leaves, and enhancing its flavor with Saikyo miso sauce mixed with wasabi and citrus juice. The Sankyo miso used in this dish was created specifically for this restaurant. They carry more than 150 different kind of sake. “Zuma Ginjo”, brewed exclusively for the Zuma Group by a brewer in Akita prefecture is a very smooth one.

As described in the words of the founder, Mr. Rainer Becker, “Zuma is about a complete dining experience”, and the interior of the restaurant is definitely included in its concept. As you step into the 2-story, 9,959 sqf of luxurious space, it overwhelms you. The natural materials such as wood and stones used generously and accentuated by Japanese motifs create a gorgeous yet relaxing ambience. The main dining room on the first floor has an atrium style ceiling, which gives an open feeling. The tables are far apart, and some are very private. The second floor lounge provides an intimate and comfortable space. You can get a customized service in one of the 6 private rooms for a party from a meeting to a cocktail reception. This modern and functional interior space was designed by a Japanese architect, Noriyoshi Muramatsu.

The Group is in the process of opening another one in Las Vegas by the end of this year. “Zuma” is definitely the kind of restaurant you should try.




 『Zuma』では、日本食文化の伝統と哲学を重視しつつも、現代的かつ優雅に進化させた料理の数々を楽しめる。高級感あふれる店内でありつつも、くつろいだ雰囲気で過ごしてもらいたいという想いから、居酒屋スタイルを採用。3つのセクション、 “寿司バー”、“炉端グリル”、“メインキッチン”から次々と運ばれてくる料理を、友人や家族とシェアできるよう考慮されている。居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客には、サーバーが丁寧に説明するほか、“おまかせ”を用意し利用する客が多い。

 日本酒も150銘柄以上取りそろえている。秋田県の蔵元が特別に醸した「Zuma Ginjo」は喉ごしが柔らかく格別の一本だ。



261 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-544-9862

Monday - Friday
Lunch 11:45am – 3:00pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm
Dinner 5:45pm – 10:00pm

Monday - Saturday
Dinner 5:45pm – 11:30pm

Monday - Saturday
Bar & Snacks 5:00pm – 12:00am
#alljapannews #izakaya #newyork #suma #sushibar

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Stylishly arranged Japanese Izakaya

Front: Tuna Tarts ($15) (fron... Front: Tuna Tarts ($15) (front) Back: Buttermilk Karaage ($9)
Ramen Salad ($8)
Braised Belly Bun ($8)
Seabass Skewers ($13.5)
Stylishly arranged Japanese Iz... General Manager, Justin Gonza... General Manager, Justin Gonzalez
Cherry Special Rolls: Spicy Tuna, Bacon Caesar, Crispy Shrimp
Stylishly arranged Japanese Izakaya

Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, is known for the highest fashion sense in town.More and more unique boutiques and cafes are opening up one after another, and you find something new every time you go there. While you walk down the street of Williamsburg, an extraordinary stylish façade draws your attention. The sign says “Cherry Izakaya”. When you push open its door to step into the space, you see a place so sophisticated and in good taste, that it gives an impression so far away from what you would normally think of from the word “Japanese Izakaya”.

“I modernized the concept of the Japanese Izakaya that inspired me originally. I would like the customers to enjoy food and sake in their own unique individual way in a warm and relaxing atmosphere”, says Mr. Justin Gonzales, the General Manager of this place. He has worked in various Japanese restaurants in the past, knows Japanese food culture very well, and is passionate about making it known to the world. Some customers are still not familiar with Izakya ordering style, in which you order items one by one at your own preferred timing, and dishes are shared by everybody at the table. This unique Izakaya way is explained to each of such customers by the staff because they believe in good hospitality and communication.

The executive chef, John Keller, who has worked for various well-known restaurants including “Nobu”, created a menu that covers a wide range of dishes from some creative dishes with Japan’s unique ingredients and cooking styles, to typical American dishes such as steaks and hamburgers. Their Izakaya style menu items are divided into categories such as “Starters”, “Appetizers”, “Mains”, “Ramen”, “Sushi”, etc. to make it easy for the customers to make selections.

The most popular dish is the “Tuna Tarts” ($15) which is served with fresh and radiant thinly sliced tuna on a savory baked tart dough. What makes it so good is the creamy ponzu sauce and truffle oil, which is a creative combination Japanese people may usually don’t think of. Other dishes such as “Ramen Salad” ($8) with enjoyable texture of crispy fried noodle, “Braised Pork Belly Bun” ($8) with pork belly cooked so tender it melts in your mouth, ($8), and “Seabass Skewers” ($13.5) dressed perfectly with sweet miso sauce may also surprise you with their unique combination of ingredients and presentation. One striking item is the “Bacon Caesar Roll” with smoked bacon, kale and avocado. Every dish presents an excellent combination of ingredients without being too unapproachable.

The Brunch menu is also important to this place, and items are named to stir people’s curiosity such as “Tuna Crispy Rice Benedict” and “Breakfast Ramen”.

They have placed extra effort in attracting crowds since the location is not facing the main street of Williamsburg, and is a bit hidden. You need to turn into a smaller street, so it is not easy to spot the place unless you are specifically looking for it. So, mainly advertising through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they offer two special deals, “Ramen Mondays” and “Sake Sundays”. Their online delivery service is rapidly gaining popularity, which is also resulting in bringing more customers to the restaurant.

The stylish interior is also worth seeing. They won third prize for the 10 best designed restaurants in America in Dwell Magazine last year. It creates a sophisticated yet comforting space, decorated in a motif of Japanese traditional paintings and buildings.

I believe that “Cherry Izakaya” which contributes to the introduction of more and more Japanese food culture one after another, will subvert the image of the traditional Izakaya that most Japanese people have, in a nice way.

今、ニューヨークで最も流行感度が高いと言われるブルックリンのウィリアムズバーグ地区。個性的なブティックやカフェが次々と登場し、訪れる度に新しい発見が感じられる街を歩くと、ひときわスタイリッシュな外観に目を奪われる。『Cherry Izakaya』――扉を押して足を踏み入れると、日本の“居酒屋”という言葉から連想される庶民的なイメージとは全く異なる、都会的でセンスのよい空間が広がっている。

「日本の“居酒屋”のコンセプトからインスピレーションを受け、モダンにアレンジした。心温まるリラックスした雰囲気で、それぞれのスタイルで料理やお酒を楽しんでもらいたい」と話すのはジェネラル・マネジャー のジャスティン・ゴンザレス氏。過去に数々の日本食店で経験を積み、日本の食文化に精通し、それを伝えることに意欲的な人物だ。訪れる客の中には、好きな料理を好きなタイミングで注文したり、ひとつの料理を分け合ったりする、居酒屋独特のスタイルに慣れていない人もいるが、ホスピタリティとコミュニケーションを大切に、ひとりひとりの客に丁寧に説明する。





スタイリッシュな内装も一見の価値がある。昨年、『Dwell Magazine』誌が選ぶ「アメリカのベスト・デザイン・レストランの第三位にも選ばれている。日本の伝統的な絵画や建築をモチーフに使い、洗練されつつも温かさのある空間だ。

ウィリアムズバーグ地区で、新しい日本食文化を次々発信してくれる『Cherry Izakaya』。日本人が描く“居酒屋”のイメージやメニューを気持ちよく覆してくれる店だ。

Cherry Izakaya
138 N 8th Street Brooklyn, NY 11249
Tel: 347-889-6300
Dinner Sun.- Wed. / 5:30pm- 10:00pm Thurs. / 5:30pm- 11:00pm Fri.- Sat. / 5:30pm- midnight
Brunch Sun. / 11:30am- 4:00pm
#alljapannews #izakaya #japaneserestaurant #newyork

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