In the past few weeks, three Japanese izakaya-style dining experiences have opened; two in Bushwick and the third, Bar Goto, last night on the Lower East Side. At his namesake bar, Tokyo native and Pegu Club alum Kenta Goto tweaks classic cocktails with Japanese influences and ingredients, like elevating a traditional martini with sake, maraschino and cherry blossom. The alluring Eldridge Street spot also has a mind towards lining your stomach with Japanese comfort foods, including several versions of okonomi-yaki, the savory Japanese pancake that's also enjoying a moment of reinvigoration.
There's a lot going on in the Umami Mary, which builds on a vodka base with miso, shiitake mushrooms, lemon, tomato and Clamato, the clam broth juice that may have confused you at the grocery store as a child. It seems ideally suited to a pairing with the Grilled Cheese Okonomi-yaki, which comes laden with three types of cheese (white cheddar, parmesan and gruyere), plus beech mushrooms and sun dried tomato. The duo reach a comfort food zenith of creamy and rich meets tart and acidic.
In addition to more pancake permutations, lighter fare including house-pickled vegetables and Tako Sashimi with octopus can be procured. And if Clamato doesn't get your mouth watering, consider an Improved Shochu Cocktail with barley shochu, aged gin and hop liqueur or a refreshing Watermelon-Cucumber Cooler, fortified with gin and wasabi salt.
245 Eldridge Street, 212-475-4411; website. Open Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, 5 p.m. to midnight.