The buzz: This much-awaited modern izakaya takes up residence in Chinatown co-working space The Working Capitol, serving Japanese small plates with an edgier twist.
The vibe: There’s nothing precious about this industrial concrete-and-wood, faux-grungy space that features huge grafitti murals of technicolored pigeons donning headphones and a mix of high top and low tables. So far, the crowd is brimming with those in-the-know, beautiful types who are out for good drinks and sexy food.
The food: It’s all about sharing here, although you can get larger plates, too. Snacks like the chilled cucumber ($8) with crushed chili peanuts and goma are refreshingly addictive, though the plainer tuna crudo ($16) with pickled apple and a miso dip doesn’t pack as much punch. There are still hits like the super tender steamed snapper ($14) jutting out of piquant ginger-tomato broth, as well as the smoked baby back ribs ($18) that’s so tender you don’t even need a knife. Don’t leave without trying the moreish roasted bone marrow ($18) that comes glistening with furikake spice and crispy fried garlic slices.
The drinks: While the restaurant covers the bases with a list of craft sakes, wines, whiskeys and liqueurs, the spotlight remains on the cocktail, craft beer and the special in-house junmai daiginjo sake ($28). Cocktails are generally priced below $20 (save one stirred creation) and veers towards the refreshing tastes with options like the Amagumo ($18) with Plantation dark and white rum, ume honey vinegar and ginger beer, and The Green Hornet ($18), a tequila-based creation with wasabi-infused honey. However, the Harajuku Girl ($16) with gin and shiso leaf is extremely tart and lacking balance, at least the last time we tried it. Craft beers include bottles of the obligatory Hitachino Nest white ale ($13) and the less ubiquitous Koshihikari echigo ($18).
Why you’ll be back: The space just oozes coolness with its industrial chic vibe, the right amount of vibrant chatter and great people watching. Whether you stop here for an after-work cocktail, late night drinks or a full-fledged dinner, it’s an unpretentious space pushing out edgy but comforting dishes you can dive into. We hope it always stays this crowded.