Cozy, charming Japanese tapas restaurant and sake bar Rabbit House is growing. The tiny but popular restaurant is expanding with a second location on the Lower East Side, a 41 Essex St., between Grand and Hester streets. Chef and owner Yoshiko Sakuma expects to open it this fall.
The original Rabbit House is a 15-seat space at 76 Forsyth St., south of Grand Street and right across the street from Chinatown’s Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Sakuma opened it in 2016 following more than a decade working at restaurants such as Maialino, Del Posto, and Bouley Restaurant.
But Rabbit House doesn’t have the scale of those restaurants: The original still feels somewhat like a secret escape, with an idiosyncratic vibe in part due to the size and in part due to Sakuma’s presence there. The New Yorker called it “so quirky and comfortable that drinking flights of sake at the bar feels like sitting in someone’s living room.” It’s since gained a following for its distinctive personality.
During the expansion, the first Rabbit House is limiting its menu, forgoing the $60 six-course omakase that Sakuma usually offers. The new location will keep popular options like the black baby chicken with sesame seed sauce, but the menu will expand, including to feature liquor in addition to a robust sake lineup. Initially, it will only have 12 seats, which will grow in the next year.
The new Rabbit House is expected to open in October.