Chef Kazuo Yoshida, former sushi chef at Williamsburg’s 1 or 8, became a breakout sushi star in the last year, garnering effusive praise from both Times critic Pete Wells and former Bloomberg critic Tejal Rao. Now, he’s headlining his very own stage at Juku, an omakase restaurant and izakaya now open in Chinatown where Yoshida created the entire menu.
There are three distinct dining areas at this tri-level restaurant at 32 Mulberry Street and Mosco Street: a 12-seat omakase counter, a 36-seat izakaya-style dining room, and a still-to-come 56-seat basement karaage- and whiskey-focused lounge that will double as a private events space.
At the reservation-only upstairs omakase, Nagasaki native Yoshida will make two menus, $80 for 12 pieces of sushi and $120 for 15 pieces and a hand roll. Expect lesser-seen fish like tsumiburi (golden striped yellowtail), ishidai (parrotfish), and nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch), plus plenty of heavy hitters such as several types of uni.
Over in the ground-floor izakaya, a la carte options include traditional dishes like tonkatsu and karaage, as well as more modern interpretations like yam “bravas” with taro, tonkatsu, nori, and bonito. The full menu is below.
Accompanying drinks from Tim Cooper (Sweetwater Social, Goldbar) incorporate Japanese ingredients, like with the El Gran Hamada (tequila cabeza, yuzu, lemon juice, agave nectar, shiso leaf). There’s also plenty of beer, wine, and sake.
As for the space, co-owner Max Levai is big in the art world, so art plays a large role in the design. Levai commissioned works from New York-based artists Tony Matelli and Roe Ethridge, as well as others around the world like Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Edie Fake, Lothar Hempel, and Julius Von Bismarck.
Juku is now open Monday through Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.