Tiny new all-day cafe Davelle, with just 20 seats, is just as small as the owners’ previous restaurant, Izakaya. And just like at Izakaya, owner Yudai Kanayama and his fashion industry partners have obsessed over all the little details, from ceramic dishware and vintage accents to the menu of super cozy Japanese fare.
During the day, Davelle is modeled after kissaten, traditional tea and coffee shops that have been around Japan since the late 1800s. In Tokyo, they’re often small, old-school, and peaceful, without the laptop-toting common in New York’s cafe culture. Menus often include toast, curry rice, and spaghetti, plus a pour-over coffee.
In Japan, food is not necessarily the primary focus of kissatens, and at Davelle, Kanayama wanted to pay more attention what’s available to eat. Like traditional kissaten, Davelle serves Napolitan spaghetti, the Japanese version of red sauce pasta that features green bell peppers and a ketchup sauce, and a curry with rice, offered with either beef or pork. Thick toast and fruit sandwiches, where a yogurt and heavy cream combo accompanies slices of fruit, are also available. They come with soup and salad in sets at lunch, maxing out at $23.
But then the little cafe expands by also offering oden, a Japanese street food that’s not commonly served in the U.S. and not often found at kissaten in Japan, either. It’s essentially different foods like mushroom and okra served in a light dashi broth, usually served warm but at Davelle, sometimes also served cold. All the ingredients sit in the broth in an oden machine, with flavors combining and contributing to the depth of the soup, Kanayama says. In Japan, the foods might be served on the street on a stick, but here things like tomato, asparagus, okra, and fried tofu come in a ceramic bowl of the broth.
Kanayama plans to show diners the oden contraption, in part to better explain what it is. “Everything has different tastes and contributes to the soup,” he says. “The more you have in the soup, the better it tastes.” At dinner, various oden offerings compose of much of the menu. Still, fans of Izakaya in the East Village can find similar small plates here, such as vegetable chips and picture-perfect salads tinged with the pink of beet juice. See the full menu, including coffees and teas, below.
It’s still a work in progress — Davelle won’t have a liquor license for a bit, and a retail portion will be added later, as well — but for now, the cafe is at least serving food — which is what matters the most to them, anyway. “You really don’t expect a lot in Japan at a kissaten,” Kanayama says. “But I didn’t want to make it like that, I wanted to make a kissaten with good food.”
Davelle is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 102 Suffolk St., between Delancey and Rivington streets.