Otaku Katsu, which is now open just on the edge of the Lower East Side party zone, seems ideally suited for its environs. The menu is filled with crowd-pleasing, booze-soaking cheap eats, the counter-service set up is fast and friendly, and the cozy, subterranean space exudes a certain kitschy cool.

But then, the last several restaurants in this spot on Rivington have also felt like winners, like Eddie Huang's first Baohaus, Andy Ricker's Pok Pok outpost, and the previous tenant, the similarly-themed TongKatsu. Here's hoping fourth time's the charm, though, because the crew at Otaku Katsu are clearly capable of cooking up some first-rate food.

The owners are chef Dimitri Voutsinas and his wife Christine Argao-Voutsinas, both of whom are total pros, having worked at an impressive array of restaurants including the West Village Emily, Daniel, Aquavit, Motorino, Bar Boulud, and Red Rooster, where they met. The couple threw a preview party prior to opening, and I was able to sample a big chunk of the menu, and am eager to go back now that it's fully operational.

Your choices here fall into five basic categories. There's crisp-fried, lightly-battered Katsu, available in Pork, Chicken, and Fish and served Bento style with a mound of sticky, vinegary rice, a zesty slaw of sorts, and a bunch of pickled things. This is a full meal as is—the juicy pork is especially satisfying—but you can get a fried egg plopped on top if you want.

Voutsinas also does a clever Vegetable version, which is basically whatever's fresh and in season (on this day, okra, asparagus, carrots, peppers) wrapped in yuba; and an excellent BEC Katsu, for which he deep-fries a duck egg surrounded by bacon with bechamel and cheese. It's like eating a huge Scotch Egg for dinner.

There are several Sando Bentos available. The bread is white, soft, and crust-free, but not sweet like milk bread, and it holds up well even with the gloppiest of fillings. You can get any of the Katsu meats in this format, or a decent Egg Salad, or a Bacon Steak sandwich that's amazing if you like pork belly fat. Kewpie or kimchi mayo add extra zing to things here.

Three Onigiri are on the menu, none of which I tried but all of which sound good—they include: Yuzu Salmon, Spam, and Bacon with corn and ume. Under Small Plates you can order an awesomely large bowl of Fries, topped in either Okonomiyaki or Mentaiko fashion, or a chilled tofu dish (Hiyayako), or a Kani Inari with salmon roe. And for dessert, treat yourself to some of Voutsinas's creamy and intensely flavored soft serve, available in Chocolate Miso, Lemonade, and Sweet Cream.

The lower-level space is tough, especially when the weather's pleasant and you can't fling open your front windows and beckon all to come inside. That said, Voutsinas and Argao-Voutsinas do a fine job of bringing life and energy to the room with lots of plants, Japanese toys and stickers, lucky cats, and a solid soundtrack of contemporary hip hop or screamo. There are 15 seats total at various counters and a table, but this is definitely a wolf it down and be on your way sort of place.

Looking in the window

Otaku Katsu

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Otaku Katsu
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Otaku Katsu is located at 137 Rivington Street, between Norfolk and Suffolk Streets, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (917-388-3924; otakukatsu.com)