Sushi star Kosaka’s owner Key Kim and his team had to rethink just about everything about Maki Kosaka — the Michelin-starred restaurant’s incoming more affordable sister restaurant, originally planned with a headlining $80 omakase lineup — that was in the works for a spring opening at 55 W. 19th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in Flatiron, before the pandemic hit. Now, despite the setbacks — and the current dining restrictions — the team is ready to open the restaurant on Tuesday.
Executive chef Sho Boo, a Kosaka veteran who previously made a splash in NYC with her own tiny East Village sushi spot, Bugs, is still leading the kitchen at Maki Kosaka. But much of the menu has changed to fit the current dining landscape: Where there was once an seven-course omakase planned, now there are three different sushi combination sets, dubbed Makimono, featuring onigiri with fillings including snow crab and spicy salmon, grab sushi that is served for outdoor diners only with squares of nori to grab and eat the fish, and a variety of thick futomaki rolls.
“You have to improvise everything,” Kim says. “You have to come up with ideas all the time. This is totally uncharted territory.”
The restaurant was also originally planning on a brisk lunch and dinner business of Temaki hand rolls to offer at a front bar separate from the omakase experience; now, the hand rolls offered have changed slightly to be more versatile for takeout and delivery. A wide selection of champagne, sake, and Japanese beers are listed among the drink offerings, and to-go boxed desserts of hazelnut cookies and matcha almond toffee from La Patisserie de Lauren have been added to the menu.
Kim has spent recent days scouring the city for tables and chairs to set up outside — they’re impossible to find now, he says — and he’s been searching the aisles of Home Depot for reflective tape to affix to the barriers that are required in order to set up outdoor seating. He’s not alone: Restaurateurs around the city have been scrambling to make sure their outdoor dining setups comply with shifting Department of Transportation rules.
The restaurant will be operating at a loss for the foreseeable future as indoor dining in the city has been put on hold indefinitely, Kim says, but he and his team are eager to open the place and simply start serving their sushi. “We’ve been shut down for four months so far,” Kim says. “It’s too long, financially, morally — everything.” Kim’s more formal Michelin-starred spot Kosaka is remaining shut down for now.
Maki Kosaka will open its doors tomorrow for outdoor dining six days a week, from Monday through Saturday for lunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Takeout will be offered as well, and delivery will be added on Caviar as soon as the company greenlights Maki Kosaka’s online listing.
Full outdoor dining food and drink menus:
Takeout and delivery food and drink menus: