7.25.18 / New York / New York

Katana Kitten Is a New Love Letter to Tokyo’s Vibrant Izakayas

From Shinjuku to Hudson Street

  • [Photo: Alex Kikis]

  • In our last post we talked about the pleasure of seeing Japanese culture brought right to us (hey, a trip to Tokyo isn’t cheap!) when a kinbaku performance was staged in NYC. Greg Boehm of Cocktail Kingdom and James Tune of Boilermaker feel the same way, and fortunately for us, they’ve taken that same enthusiasm for the vibrant Tokyo culture and brought it to a permanent new space in the West Village. Katana Kitten displays their passion at every corner; this is as much an ode to Japan as it is a new watering hole with offbeat drinks. This is most apparent in the downstairs area, drenched in red light and covered in artifacts from Boehm and Tune’s adventures in Japan. But the drinks do in fact offer something beyond typical cocktail menus, and it’s where the bar’s third founder and head bartender Masahiro Urushido shines. The Japanese native blends his experience in both Tokyo and New York (recently at Saxon + Parole) to bring a flavorful menu forward: yuzu, shiso, and Toki whiskey show up in the highballs; a Negroni variant uses plum sake; the boilermakers—which are beers with shots—naturally include Sapporo. The food rounds out the flavors with Teriyaki burgers, kushiage skewers, and other dishes inspired by Japanese street food. Japanese bars and restaurants have a tendency to present themselves with seriousness, reflecting the precision and dedication rooted in Japanese culture, but here the name itself exhibits the playful nature of the bar. ‘Katana’ (a samurai sword) and ‘Kitten’ (think Maneki-neko figures, or Hello Kitty if we’re being vulgar) are part of a different facet of culture, and with Katana Kitten Urushido, Boehm, and Tune succeed in bringing the accessible and buoyant feeling of a Tokyo izakaya to New York.

    Katana Kitten is open now at 531 Hudson Street

  • [Photo: Alex Kikis]

  • [Photo: Alex Kikis]

  • [Masahiro Urushido; Photo: Alex Kikis]