If you still don't know what an izakaya is (or haven't lately been to St. Marks Place, where most of them are clustered), enlighten yourself at Izakaya Ten, the latest iteration of the space that was the French-Korean D'or Ahn, and then, for a nanosecond, the sushi restaurant Anzu. Owner Lannie Ahn has hired a veteran of Morimoto and Nobu to supplement the raw fish with a selection of small plates of the home-style Japanese fare one finds in a sake bar or pub — not your basic mozzarella sticks or buffalo wings but more exotic tidbits like natto omelettes, ginger pork belly, pan-seared rice balls, and the ever-popular chicken-meatball skewer.
The second local branch of Gyu-Kaku, opening Friday, October 20, offers something a bit heftier than bar snacks. It specializes in yakiniku, or Japanese barbecue cooked at table grills over "smokeless" ceramic coals. As at its Cooper Square location, the raw materials range from Wagyu beef to tofu and may be basted with or dipped into an array of sauces. If all this reminds you of 32nd Street's Korean-barbecue joints, so will the presence of kimchee, bibimbap, and kalbi soup. For dessert, on October 27, barring construction delays, Kyotofu establishes an American outpost for its Asian-fusion desserts and specialty drinks. Tofu and soy milk make their unexpected but virtuous way into brownies, ice cream, and cheesecake, a development hard-core junk-food fiends might find hard to swallow.
Izakaya Ten, 207 Tenth Ave., nr. 23rd St.; 212-627-7777.
Gyu-Kaku, 805 Third Ave., at 53rd St., second fl. (212-702-8816); opens October 20.
Kyotofu, 705 Ninth Ave., nr. 48th St. (212-974-6012); opens October 27.
— Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld