Opening in the next two weeks, Mifune (245 East 44th Street) along with Sushi Amane in the same building will be among the most important Japanese restaurants to open in New York this year. The eight-seat omakase counter is helmed by Shion Uino — second-in-command at Tokyo’s Sushi Saito, the bar with three Michelin stars many regard as the best sushi in Tokyo. Both are currently hosting friends and family.
Split between a ground-floor dining room and a lower level, Mifune will offer an a la carte menu of Japanese-European fusion dishes from Hiroki Yoshitake — of Michelin-starred Sola in Paris — who drafted Mifune's menu. In the kitchen day-to-day, diners will find Guy Savoy vet Yuu Shimano, who will be executing Yoshitake’s vision. Named after mid-century Japanese samurai actor Toshiro Mifune, Mifune aims to express the actor’s “wild” and “sexy” talents according to general manager, Hiroyuki Morishima.
At a small dining bar at the entrance, chef Shimano plans to add a tasting menu priced around $150, with dishes like smoked butter fish with green garlic sauce and seared foie gras served over while rice with sabayon and bits of pickled celery. Presently, Shimano is sourcing many ingredients locally from the Union Square Green Market, but he’s flying in a few Japanese staples like soy sauce and mirin. When it opens, Mifune will offer dinner Monday through Saturday from 6 to 11:30p.m., with lunch to follow.
Anyone who cares about raw fish on seasoned rice is eagerly anticipating Sushi Amane. Here chef Uino will present one omakase menu set at $250, with likely two seatings a night. In addition to the bar’s eight seats, there is a single semi-private dining room with room for four. In terms of omakase progression, expect a series of otsumami, or small Japanese appetizers, before about 14 or so nigiri bites which reflect Uino’s master's style.
In Tokyo, Saito-san, whose 7-seat bar is one of the toughest reservations in the city to secure, is known for his unparalleled fish quality, but also fish served at specific temperatures, some of which are aged. His shari, or rice, tends to be heavier on salt and seasoned with red vinegar. Nigiri is enhanced with wasabi, soy, or lemon.
Lauded barman Shingo Gokan is behind the libations here — fans of Little Tokyo cocktail bar Angel’s Share will know him — where he’ll feature six classic cocktails and six newer creations that reflect his signature style of savory Japanese flavors. Early standouts are the Drunken Angel, which calls for Hibiki Japanese whisky, plum wine and shiso, as well as Seven Samurai with rye, koshu aged sake, sherry, poured into a snifter filled with bamboo smoke. Stay tuned for details as far as opening dates and more.