The resurgence of vinyl has meant more bars and restaurants soundtracking their dining experiences with groovy listening experiences punctuated by brief silences as the records get flipped. This is something of a trend in Japan, where audiophiles gather for thoughtful listening sessions over a glass or two of fine whisky. Interpreting that experience for the New York City imbiber is Ariel Arce, who debuts Tokyo Record Bar Thursday evening underneath her other recently-opened Air's Champagne Parlour.
Two seatings nightly (6:30 and 8:30 p.m.) for 16 people unfold over an hour and a half, where guests "create a vinyl playlist in real time to listen to during their dinner." Arce's stocked the bar with pressings from artists from Aretha Franklin to Aaliyah. During each seating, diners get a $50, seven-item izakaya menu with dishes like Caviar Sushi, Beef Negamaki with Charred Scallion and Hamachi Crudo with Jalapeño.
Drinks will be a la carte—as will the entire establishment after 10:30 p.m.—with low-ABV cocktails made from sakes and sochus, plus full bottles of sake, sweet and sparkling wines, and draft beer.
In conversation with Grub Street, Arce, who has never visited Japan, recognizes the optics of a "Jewish woman opening a Japanese-style space."
"It's not intended to offend in any way," she told the website. "We're not trying in any way to reappropriate someone else's culture. This is a place that's supposed to be fun. And we are truly trying to pay our respects to a culture that is hyperfocused on quality. We connect to that."
127 Macdougal Street; reservations