Restaurant Empire Tao Group Hospitality has teamed up with Marriott International’s Moxy Hotels to open Sake No Hana at 145 Bowery, near Broome Street, on December 6 on the Lower East Side, its first Japanese restaurant in the group and one of a handful Tao concepts at Moxy conceived as the hotel was built from the ground up.
In addition to the restaurant, there’s Silver Lining, a piano lounge opening Saturday, December 10; the Highlight Room, a rooftop bar; the Fix, an all-day cafe and lobby bar, and Loosie’s, a subterranean club. All venues are now open, barring Silver Lining.
The restaurant has assembled an izakaya-style menu that it claims blends New York and Japanese sensibilities with Japanese techniques. With dishes like crispy gyoza, three-egg chawanmushi, kelp-wrapped snapper, short-rib fried rice, and Ginza chicken, the menu is sectioned by snacks ($6 to $24), small ($12 to $ 34) and large plates ($16 to $36), sushi, robata ($4 to $7), noodles and rice ($17 to $24), and entrees ($31 to $65).
Sake No Hana is only open for dinner (no hotel room service at Moxys) and in a revival of a pre-2020 ritual among deep-pocketed restaurant groups, involved an R&D trip to Japan that brought back items like tonkatsu that’s an homage to destination-worthy Narikura in Tokyo and an in-house sesame oil press, among other things. The restaurant says it’s flying in fish from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market and snow-aged sirloin from Niigata in Western Japan.
Sake No Hana also features cocktails named Liquid Swords (similar to an Old Fashioned) and Kusama’s Full Happiness, a drink infused with Sichuan peppercorns that range from $19 to $27.
It’s Tao’s the fourth partnership with Moxy Hotels. “We saw how well Japanese restaurants have done in New York, but we wanted to do it right,” says Tao Group co-CEO Noah Tepperberg. Chefs for the restaurant group, Ralph Scamardella and Jason Hall, along with Yoshi Kojima, he says, are key to that goal. Kojima in particular was born in Japan and has been head of culinary development for Tao since 2013 with the opening of Tao downtown. He is trained in French and Italian cooking and opened several venues for Wolfgang Puck before joining the company.
The hotel is a microcosm of the larger Tao empire, according to Tepperberg. “We have customers who plan their social calendars entirely within our collection restaurants,” he says. So far, Tao has 30 properties in New York City among 70 worldwide. Tao in Midtown, the group’s original pan-Asian clubstarant, opened in 2000, while Midtown’s Lavo and Beauty and Essex on the Lower East Side have both been open for 12 years.
Saka No Hana is a 4,227 square-foot space that seats 165, in a building whose design was spearheaded by the Rockwell Group, an architecture firm that’s designed places like Union Square Cafe, Nobu, Daily Provisions, and New York’s Zaytinya. It takes design inspiration from the Bowery, Japanese street culture, and retro punk rock, as well as elements of vaudeville and burlesque.
The restaurant has space for walk-ins and takes reservations Monday through Thursday, from 6 p.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.