As anticipated, Panya Ongkeo and Yuji Umeki of Kenka opened Beronberon in the East Village last night, and it was packed with customers of its longstanding predecessor Sapporo East, delighted to see much of the old spot’s staff back.
There was a wait when we stopped by, but after 20 minutes we were seated at a 4-top, inches away from another couple. There was little chance of being overheard, though, since (just like at Kenka) the dining room was full of sake-and-beer-fueled chatter and traditional Japanese music.
To be sure, tradition is a thing here — the Grand Opening poster, in Japanese, advertised the date as the 26th year of the Emperor’s reign and quoted a Meiji-era saying that advocates the adoption of Western ways. The quote, from an old song, was clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek: among other traditional touches, there are tatami nooks near the front windows, where you can lounge around with your shoes off. And there’s a sushi counter, as well.
Japanophiles will also be delighted to find bathrooms with sliding doors and — the holy grail — heated toilets with fully automatic washlets. Toto-lly awesome!
As you can see from the photos below, the expansive menu of sushi, sashimi, ramen, udon, bento boxes etc. is very much in keeping with that of Sapporo East, right down to the sashimi salad:
You’ll note, however, that prices are a buck or two higher across the board.
Beronberon, 245 East 10th Street, at First Ave.