Young and Hungry

Ten Facts About Daikaya’s Upstairs Izakaya

The upstairs izakaya at Chinatown ramen shop Daikaya is set to open as soon as this weekend. Here are 10 things you should know about it:

1. The space is reminiscent of a Japanese izakaya, but you'd never find an izakaya like it in Japan. For example, co-owner Daisuke Utagawa says he's never seen an izakaya in Japan with a bar; people just drink at tables. But at Daikya, the bar takes up the center of the room.

2. Edit's Brian Miller, who designed the space, accompanied Daikaya's owners Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni on a trip to Tokyo in late 2011 to seek out inspiration.

3. The walls have images from the manga (or Japanese comics) Oishibo and Drops of God. There are also Japanese tour posters for Western artists.

4. Among the dishes you'll find: grilled oysters with sake and oyster salt, grilled avocado with ponzu and fresh wasabi, miso cod with carrot puree and pickled ginger, fermented Japanese vegetables, and spicy cod roe spaghetti. For dessert, there are chocolate ice cream with miso-banana caramel, a Japanese flan with burnt caramel granita, and sesame panna cotta. (Check out a draft menu below. Note: It may change.)

5. There will be sake bombs made with spherified sake in a glass of Sapporo—a product of Fukushima's molecular gastronomy background.

6. There are a variety of shochu options distilled from barley, rice, sesame, brown sugar, buckwheat, and sweet potato. Daikaiya will have its own take on bottle service: "chu-hai service." General manager James Horn explains there's a cocktail in Japan called the shochu highball made with shochu, some kind of citrus, and soda. For $5 extra, guests can get a platter with a glass juicer, half of a grapefruit that's been infused with bitters, and a glass of soda water. They can then juice their own grapefruit and add it with soda to their shochu.

7. There's a cocktail with candied soba. It's called the Granguro Girl and contains wine-based aperitif Byrrh, Gran Classico, and lemon. Mixologist Eddie Kim says the candied soba idea came from Pabu in Baltimore. "This is a great drink to start off the night with," Kim says.

8. Most of the cocktails are on the lighter side to better pair with the Japanese food. They'll range from $9 to $12.

9. The extensive sake list is broken down into categories: aromatic and fragrant, natural (unpasturized), dry and crisp, unfiltered, light and smooth, and complex and full bodied. Most are sold by the bottle, but seven are by the glass in addition to the house sake.

10. There's a DJ booth. Chef Fukushima, a DJ in his high school and college days, may just make a cameo at some point.

Photo by Jessica Sidman