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Before the Media Onslaught: Japonais

We've reached PR frenzy mode at the days-away Japonais. Please keep your arms and legs inside the tram at all times, folks. Here we go.

2006_07_japonais_logo.jpgWhat: Japonais, famed, highly anticipated Chicago import, opening at 111 East 18th Street
Who: Rick Wahlstedt, Miae Lim, Jeffrey Beers (designer), Gene Kato (exec chef), Jun Ichikawa (sushi chef)
PR Firm: KB Network News
Calendar: Official opening date is July 19th (next Wednesday); Con Ed turned on the gas yesterday. Reservations being accepted as of tomorrow Reservations line opens as of the morning of the 19th, per the front of house; tomorrow, the 13th, per the PR (212-260-2020). We are told mentioning Eater will get you special treatment (true). Private parties this week.
Most Quotable PR Line: "Japonais’ vibrant Red Room offers seating for 120 people, an 11-seat sushi bar, an adjoining “golden” niche and a 35-seat outdoor veranda. The room is situated on a raised wide plank wood platform and features Japonais’ custom-designed walnut “fin” ceiling. The restaurant’s signature red brick walls, ebony wood screens and gold accents create a dramatic, inviting and warm space."
Eater Color: Expect a Chinatown Brasserie-like light show at the outset, followed by a more reasonable proposition in three months. When the time comes, Bruni will likely two-star it.

After the jump, the press release in full.

Chicago’s Beloved Japanese Gem Brings New Yorkers Its Signature Cuisine and Guest-Friendly Approach

NEW YORK, July 2006 – New York City can use a little “Midwestern hospitality.” This summer, Japonais, (111 East 18th Street btwn. Park Avenue South & Irving Place, 212-260-2020), one of Chicago’s most adored restaurants, will open its first outpost outside of the Windy City. New Yorkers and travelers alike will be instantly charmed and seduced by the restaurant’s distinctive approach to ambience, service and signature Japanese cuisine that seamlessly fuses innovative presentations, flavors and ingredient pairings within each selection. Since opening in 2003, Japonais received three stars by both the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune, and was named “Best Restaurant” by Chicago Magazine in 2005.

Chicago Sun Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno, commented, "Japonais is a culinary experience that blends immense enjoyment with sturdy savoir faire. The food is the enjoyment; the service is the savoir-faire. This potent mix is jazzed up even more by the subtle high energy of the space." In short, Japonais is that rare restaurant that is at once entrancing in scope, but subdued in style; meticulous in service yet unpretentious; refined in its culinary approach, while offering something for every palate and craving.

Renowned restaurateurs and partners at Japonais in Chicago, Miae Lim, Rick Wahlstedt and Jeffrey Beers (prominent restaurant and hotel designer) join forces once again to bring Japonais to New York City’s culinary landscape. Created entirely for the guest, from the guest’s perspective, Japonais brings dining as it should be to Manhattan.

“As a New Yorker, I am delighted and proud to finally bring Japonais to my hometown,” says Wahlstedt. “Both Chicago and New York City are fueled and inspired by great food, and discerning diners. I think that Japonais is a natural fit for the New York City dining scene.”

Japonais offers the best of both worlds – signature sushi and cold appetizers by world-renowned Sushi Chef/Partner Jun Ichikawa and hot appetizers and entrées by celebrated Chef /Partner Gene Kato (both from Japonais in Chicago). Upon completing intensive culinary training in Japan, Chef Kato returned to the U.S. and worked as Chef de Cuisine at Mimosa Grill (Charlotte, N.C.) and as Chef de Cuisine for Upstream, based in Charleston, S.C. While at Upstream, Kato met Miae Lim, and the two agreed to launch Ohba together and later Japonais. Executive Chef Sushi Chef and Partner, Ichikawa is known for his ability to blend years of training with a naturally creative eye resulting in some of the highest quality, most innovative sushi in the country. A position with Honda Restaurant (Kanda, Japan) resulted in the Chef moving to the United States to study under the Master Chef at Honda Chicago. A stint at Hatsuhana followed where he met Lim, and the two developed the Mirai Sushi concept and later Japonais. Together the chefs blend two sophisticated, innovative culinary styles creating a menu that is beautifully composed with the guests’ needs and preferences in mind. Classic French technique is married with clean and simple Japanese ingredients, as the chefs take a progressive approach to create a signature menu with “wow factor” and sex appeal.

Signature hot appetizers (Les Entrées Chaudes) include Japonais’ signature and popular “The Rock,”($14) thinly sliced marinated New York Strip Steak cooked on a hot rock right on the table; Waygu Toban Yaki ($26), zambutan cut American-style Kobe beef with shishito peppers, shimeji mushrooms and kirin light beer fondue that arrive at the table in an elegant, covered bowl and Kimo Flighto ($18), decadent and flavorful monkfish foie gras wrapped with octopus in a house-made Ponzu sauce.

Delectable hot entrées (Les Plats Principaux) consist of Grilled Hamachi ($24), fresh Hawaiian hamachi served with crispy shrimp dumplings in a light wild mushroom broth; Miso Zuke Barramundi ($28), broiled miso marinated Australian bass served with fried bass cheek, peach san

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