Kenta Goto — the man behind one of New York City’s best cocktail bars — is taking his eye-opening Japanese cocktails to a new bar in Park Slope. Bar Goto Niban, at 474 Bergen Street, near Flatbush Avenue, is Goto’s second venture after his hit Lower East Side izakaya and cocktail bar Bar Goto, and is set to open tonight. And while that sense of creativity transfers over to the new location, Niban still maintains a distinct identity.
“Niban means second, but Bar Goto Niban is not a copy of Bar Goto,” writes Sarah Goto, Kenta’s wife and co-owner of the bar, in an email. “What will remain the same is the focus on quality and the relaxed vibe.”
An emphasis on Japanese ingredients comes through in drinks like the Bergen Street, which is a negroni-like cocktail with applejack, a plum liqueur, and absinthe; the Bergamot Sidecar, which is a twist on the classic cognac cocktail with the addition of bergamot orange juice and yuzu bitters; and the Sumire, a tom collins-like drink with shochu, sparkling sake, and a liqueur made with violets.
The dreamy, miso-drenched wings at Bar Goto — among the top ones in the city — make an appearance on the menu at Niban owing to their popularity. But everything else on the menu here is entirely new, most notably the four types of korokke, a kind of Japanese croquette. The classic comes with slow-cooked beef, potato, and onion; the kare raisu has Japanese curry and rice; the chizu has potatoes with bechamel, gruyère and parmesan; and eda-ebi has shrimp and edamame.
Niban seats a total of 40 people, including at the 16-seat bar, some counter space, and a banquette at the front of the bar. While Bar Goto is more intimate, Niban feels more spacious and grand, with details like hand-painted wallpaper behind the bar that depicts a Japanese garden.
Prior to opening Bar Goto in 2015, Kenta churned out some attention-grabbing cocktails at the pioneering Greenwich Village bar Pegu Club. Kenta’s creations are a reflection of his “identity as both Japanese and a New Yorker,” writes Sarah.
Bar Goto is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.