America’s Most Revered Sushi Chef Opens a New Spot Dedicated to Cocktails and Robata Specialties

Vodka Pear with vodka, pickled Asian pear, and makrut lime. Photo: Melissa Hom

In the United States, Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama is sushi — or at least really expensive sushi. Before Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it was Masa wants to charge you a fortunate for that exquisite tuna. Over his 37-year career in this country, first in Los Angeles and then in New York, the chef has run small, exclusive restaurants serving immaculate, expensively sourced omakase ($595 at Masa) to your neighborhood power broker and celebrity. For the last five years, Takayama has also been trying to open an entirely different kind of restaurant, Tetsu. Delay after delay made its actual arrival seem suspect — but the doors will, finally, open tonight.

Originally billed as a teppanyaki spot, Tetsu is now being singled out for its focus on robatas, a Japanese type of charcoal grill. Takayama has branched out from omakase before, first with Bar Masa and then less successfully with Kappo Masa. Tetsu, though, promises to be the chef’s most casual restaurant yet. Along with plenty of skewers from the grills (menu here), there will be burgers on pretzel buns, available in limited quantities at the bar; fried pork spare ribs, Thai basil and pork fried rice, and a lengthy selection of temaki and nigiri sushi for Masa fans. There will also be an emphasis on original cocktails (menu here), created by the bar team and general manager Lindsey Levine. Some but not all will be made with Japanese ingredients. The Soju Thai Basil pairs its namesake ingredients with Chartreuse, lime, and togarashi salt, while the Rum Milk Punch features “Japanese horchata” made with miso. Check out some of the drinks and the space right here

Gin Concord Grape with gin, vermouth blanc, rosemary thyme, and frozen grape cube. Photo: Melissa Hom
Soju Thai Basil with soju, Charteuse, Thai basil, lime, and togarashi salt. Photo: Melissa Hom
Rum Milk Punch with dark rum, rhum agricole, Japanese horchata, miso. Photo: Melissa Hom
Tequila cider with smoked cinnamon, lemon, and apple cider. Photo: Melissa Hom
Tuna butsu guacamole. Photo: Melissa Hom
Doesn’t look like a bad place to hang out. Photo: Melissa Hom
Here either. Photo: Melissa Hom

Tetsu, 78 Leonard, nr. Church St.; 212-207-2370

NYC’s Most Revered Sushi Chef Opens a Casual New Spot