Looks Like New York’s Getting at Least One Michelin-Quality, No-Seat Restaurant
Remember that no-seats restaurant in Japan that had "diners lining up" around the block for its high-end menu? The ORENO Corporation, which already has eighteen such "standing restaurants" in Japan, is now scouting midtown spaces to open its first location Stateside, Reuters reports. "Only a tiny portion of people can afford to eat at Michelin starred restaurants, but those who earn a modest income should also be able to try high quality food," says Michio Yasuda, an executive.
Other than faster customer turnover, it's still somewhat unclear what about having no chairs would enable a restaurant to deliver a Masa-style punch (and Masa-worthy ingredients) for around $40 per person, but hey, only fools try to stop progress. "Japanese food at a top-rated place in New York is so expensive. We want to completely change that," says chef Hiroshi Shimada, who decamped from the three-star Azabu Yukimura to take on the kitchen at this place, where tables are set up for some 60-odd standing diners but there are only 35 seated guests, who are made to pay extra and have to reserve far in advance. And it's not just fast casual kaiseki in the Ginza district, Reuters reports: There are Italian-themed standing restaurants and French-style outlets that serve "beef tournedos with foie gras."
Shimada says that Stateside he anticipates having to make some concessions, but it's menu stuff like adding butter to his dashi and serving bread on the side of his simmered beef. In any event, it sounds like he's looking forward to the opening.
We are, too, even if it does leave us a little uncertain about the future. First they took away seat backs and gave us all stools; now they're taking chairs out of dining rooms entirely. The only thing left to take away is the tabletops, counters, and all of the other surfaces on which people eat. Maybe give surfaces three more years.