The transition happened quietly: the new owners haven’t put out a press release, don’t have a website and told Bedford + Bowery to “come back in two months,” noting that there are still many changes to be made before the “grand opening.”
The new restaurant is fittingly run by a Peruvian-Japanese couple—a Japanese woman who referred to herself as “Obaachan” (she declined to give her name) and her Peruvian husband. “Obaachan means grandmother in Japanese,” her granddaughter Rachel, who also works at the restaurant, told Bedford + Bowery.
Obaachan did reveal that she grew up in Japan and came to the States in the ’50s where she met her husband. She and her husband are both restaurant industry veterans.
“She is a cook but she doesn’t like to admit it,” Rachel said about her grandmother. “She has been cooking her whole life.”
“I love the food and I love the process and I love to struggle,” said Obaachan.
And so she and her husband are helping chef Enrique Miguel Quinteros, who trained formally in Peru, create the dishes, which are not so much fusion as a mix of Japanese and Peruvian. Appetizers include traditional Peruvian empanadas as well as kabocha (an Asian squash) dumplings with sesame.
The menu is actively catering to Tsampa’s old costumers with vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as a ceviche made with thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (in lieu of fish) accompanied by a wasabi and soy sauce mixture. According to Obaachan, the mushroom tastes like a hybrid between squid and octopus.
The dining room’s décor is still in flux. Obaachan plans to bring up the lighting, add stained glass where a rug once hung, and install a new awning.
Without a sign, the place’s name isn’t immediately clear. Obaachan and Rachel said it was not yet decided, but two nights later a waiter told me they plan on calling it “Las Brisas” (“The Breezes”). We’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, click on the menus below for a closer look.