Kazusa Jibiki, the owner of the popular Nolita Thai eatery Lovely Day, will be expanding to the Lower East Side next week. Jibiki’s new venture, entitled Gohan, will be a return to her Japanese heritage. Unlike Lovely Day’s Southeast Asian diner fare, Gohan, which means “a meal” in Japanese, will be all about wholesome, comforting Japanese home cooking, Jibiki explained. The restaurant, which is located at 14a Orchard Street at Canal Street, will open its doors next Monday, on August 1. Although the menu is still going through its final stages, Jibiki has given Bedford + Bowery a hint of what her version of Japanese home cooking will entail.
“We particularly focus on multigrain rice,” she explained, saying that Gohan would try to upgrade the typical white rice usually served with almost every single Japanese meal. Jibiki said that the philosophy behind the restaurant centered on a concept called “Ichi-Juu San-Sei,” which she says is a principle of a balanced meal and consists of soup (in Gohan’s case, mostly organic miso soup), and three small dishes such as boiled or sautéed greens, mushrooms, beans, and a portion of meat or fish. Rice and pickled veggies are also part of the combo.
For Jibiki, opening a Japanese restaurant in the Lower East Side has been a goal for the past two years. “A lot of people I know live in [the Lower East Side], and I kind of noticed that there weren’t that many Japanese home-cooking places in the area, so I wanted to open a restaurant there so I could see my friends more,” she said with a laugh.
“I thought there was something missing, and I was missing something,” she added, saying that she missed the food she usually ate back at home. “In New York, Japanese restaurants are usually more about sushi or ramen.”
Luckily, her friend Alex Olch, who owns a necktie shop on Orchard, just happened to be moving one door over, thus freeing up his lease for Jibiki to move in and set up shop. She said the restaurant will serve beer and wine as well as high-quality sakes, and, naturally, plenty of green tea. Together with her partner Atsushi Numata, who helms the kitchen at Ni Japanese Deli and will be in charge of the cooking at Gohan as well, Jibiki hopes to bring a slice of her own comforting Japanese dining traditions to New York.
Starting at 6pm on Monday, Gohan will be open for dinner daily at 14a Orchard Street.