When he quietly opened Izakaya on the East Village’s Curry Row a little over a week ago, he put a sign out on East Sixth Street that was meant to evoke Hokkaidō’s defunct Kōfuku Station. Fellow Japanese people who recognized the name of the station — which means “happiness” — immediately began poking into the restaurant, he said.
Kanayama is trying to make the modest eatery “as close to Japan as possible” (which is why, as an izakaya, it doesn’t offer sushi) but he says some of the dishes might be unfamiliar even to Japanese diners. The chef, Dai Watanabe, used to have a Neapolitan joint in Japan, and he has carried some of the dishes over here. “Everything he makes has a little bit of Italian taste,” Kanayama said.
As for the Japanese dishes, the speciality is fried food – but don’t expect your run-of-the-mill tempura. The “special addictive fried chicken” (actually chicken nanban) is fried without flour and topped with a homemade tartar sauce.
Beer, wine and sake are coming soon, but for now the place is BYOB. Have a look at the menu and some of the dishes.
Izakaya, 326 East 6th St, bet. First and Second Aves.; 917-475-1284