Get in on the vibrant izakaya action at this packed new izakaya
This perpetually packed, modern izakaya sports a street-inspired facade with grafitti murals, a sexy crowd and a trendy menu. They serve up Japanese small plates with an edgier twist like chilled cucumber with crushed chili roasted peanuts and goma and crab cakes with wasabi and avocado. For something bigger, try the smoked baby back ribs in sake barbecue sauce and the tare-roasted chicken thigh with Japanese curry. A special mention goes to their pocket-friendly cocktails, craft beer and special in-house junmai daiginjo sake.
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.