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Wd~50 Alum Opens Izakaya-Inspired Restaurant This Week

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It’s a Kips Bay spot from John McCarthy


The wd~50 alum John McCarthy, owner of The Crimson Sparrow in Hudson upstate, will open Oka: his interpretation of Japanese izakaya on August 23. But don’t come in looking for a traditional Japanese bar experience.

“Technically, there is very little [Japanese] authenticity to the menu or space,” says McCarthy. As one would find at an izakaya — where small plates complement booze —McCarthy’s dishes call for various cooking techniques (frying, fermentation, raw) and are inspired by what he’s tried abroad.

Claiming the defunct Terroir space on Third Avenue at 31st Street, McCarthy’s fare includes products sourced from several upstate farms; though a few dishes will fluctuate based on seasonal ingredient availability, for the most part his menu will remain static. The menu includes crudo but not sushi, and a smattering of Japanese ingredients like udon, dashi, tonkatsu, and ikura, he says. Dishes include a baguette smeared with shio kombu butter or grilled squid with black garlic oil and Japanese mayo.

As for beverages, McCarthy wrote his own cocktail menu. While some libations, like the Lillet Blossom (ginger-infused Lillet with junmai sake, vodka, and grapefruit), also appear on The Crimson Sparrow’s drinks list, in keeping with the Japanese theme, additions call for Japanese flavors, like the house strawberry-infused shochu with gin, pineapple, and lime to build the Sakura Sling, while he spikes dry sparkling white wine with umeshu (plum wine) and grapefruit. And for those wondering about the Japanese whisky situation, expect to find these three bottles behind the bar: Iwai, Ichiro's Single Malt, and Akashi White Oak.

The restaurant will be open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. for the opening weeks. Stay tuned for updates.


439 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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