Michelin for the masses: Japan's standing restaurants head for New York
By Junko Fujita
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's popular standing restaurants, where patrons eat food by former Michelin restaurant chefs for a fraction of the cost at a seated-restaurant, are about to hit New York.
Michio Yasuda, an executive director at ORENO Corporation, which owns and runs 18 restaurants in Tokyo, hopes New Yorkers who are happy to drink while standing at bars will also be happy to eat while standing.
"Only a tiny portion of people can afford to eat at Michelin starred restaurants but those who earn a modest income should also be able to try high quality food," said Yasuda.
In Tokyo's standing restaurants, which include French and Italian establishments in the posh Ginza district, diners can enjoy dishes like tender beef tournedos with foie gras, with an average meal costing about 4,000 yen ($39.30), around the cost of drinks and snacks at a simple Japanese-style pub.
Now, ORENO Corporation plans to open a standing, gourmet Japanese restaurant in New York, taking aim at diners who yearn for sushi without the bill climbing into three figures or more.
"Japanese food at a top-rated place in New York is so expensive. We want to completely change that," said Hiroshi Shimada, a chef who set up a gourmet standing Japanese restaurant in the Ginza after leaving the Michelin three-starred Japanese restaurant Azabu Yukimura.
Shimada said some modifications may be made to the food to suit American tastes.
"For example, we might add just a tiny bit of butter to our 'dashi' soup stock. Or take Japanese simmered dishes like 'niku jaga' - meat with potatoes - and serve them with bread, like a stew," he added.
Details remain to be worked out, with the company is looking at sites in midtown Manhattan, with an eye to opening by the end of the year. Despite the pricey real estate, a meal is likely to cost $30 to $40. And there will be VIP seats, but at a cost.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Elaine Lies and Michael Perry)
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