New York soba fans (more than you might think) will be pleased to hear that the city is getting a much-needed addition to its roster of buckwheat-noodle restaurants. The source is impeccable: Ryuichi “Bobby” Munekata, the owner of the Cheap Eats favorite Yakitori Totto and Aburiya Kinnosuke. “There are only three or four soba restaurants in New York, compared to hundreds of sushi places,” says Munekata. The planned location for Totto Yakitori and Soba, though, is directly atop one of its few competitors: Sakagura, which occupies the basement floor of the same East 43rd Street building. You’ll find Totto Yakitori on the ground floor, likely as of mid-December.
Is Jean-Georges Vongerichten reconsidering plans for a soba restaurant? We’re hearing from sources within the Japanese restaurant community that Vongo’s deal with the Matsushita brothers has collapsed. The idea was to turn 66 into a Matsu Gen, a temple to the art of buckwheat noodles. The place was slotted to open this spring, but expectations are low. So will the 66 space get a new concept, or will Vongerichten do a soba restaurant with somebody else? We’ll let you know when we hear.
Related: Vongerichten May Deep-Six 66, Serve Sushi and Soba Instead
British sandwich chain Pret a Manger is launching an expansion of Starbucks-like proportions, announcing plans to open 33 more locations in New York — four times the current number. “If New York could support one on every corner, we’d love that,” the company’s head says. [NYS]
Related: Out to Lunch [NYM]
Urged by the Marine Conservation Society, Gordon Ramsay pulls endangered bluefin tuna from all his restaurants. [NRN]
The Department of Health’s current closure rampage continues with Union Picnic in Williamsburg, Café Angelique, and J’adore in Manhattan. [Eater]
Is 66, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s underperforming Chinese-themed outpost, closing? A restaurant consultant moving in international circles (whom we communicate with via self-destructing personal digital assistants) informs us that the superchef intends on partnering with a Japanese restaurant firm and executing a sushi-and-soba concept in the space. Vongerichten, meanwhile, tells us the story is “just a rumor,” and that he’s in fact considering a sushi-soba restaurant at another location. (Of course, closing announcements generally aren’t made until the last minute — they’re bad for business, and the staff needs to be told first.) Either way, we’re now craving Japanese.
Sharpen your chopsticks: Many of the city’s best Japanese eateries are offering prix fixe meals and signature dishes for Japanese Restaurant Week, which starts Sunday and runs through March 10. (Get the details here.) We asked Reika Yo, the owner of EN Japanese Brasserie, to give a primer, in her own words, for those who think Japanese cuisine begins and ends with sushi (and what’s sashimi again?) and provide picks to go along with it. (The excellent EN Japanese Brasserie, by the way, is an elevated version of an izayaka, where you find many small, rustic dishes.)