A new Japanese restaurant opened in Williamsburg on Friday. And pay attention because it’s most likely going to be one of the hottest dining spots of the summer.
Cherry Izakaya, (138 N 8th) is the hip younger sibling of the swanky Cherry at Dream Downtown. The ‘Izakaya’ part of the name comes from the term for a Japanese bar serving small plates of food usually meant for sharing.
Cherry’s Jonathan Morr and Eugene Morimoto are behind the new restaurant along with Chef Jun Hiroshima of BondSt, meaning that world-class sushi is pretty much guaranteed. Consulting chef is the talented Julie Farias (also with BondSt heritage) who most recently consulted at Greenpoint’s Coco.
Following in the footsteps of many other handsome local establishments, the team enlisted the services of the Haslegrave brothers at hOme to design the space, an endlessly creative duo also responsible for interiors at Tørst, Ramona and Alameda.
High arched ceilings of reclaimed wood expand over the bar area which is beautifully floored with handmade tiles and which, during warm evenings, has the capacity to open it’s ceiling-height windows onto the street.
The main dining area has built-in wooden benches running the perimeter walls, large tarnished mirrors evoking a turn of the century apothecary feel and, best of all, hand-painted murals by Brooklyn artist Lukas Geronimas. The work is inspired by traditional Japanese ‘ukiyo-e’, 17th century prints depicting history scenes, folk tales, and landscapes and is slightly reminiscent of a (very stylish) nursery frieze.
But the main event at Cherry Izakaya, of course, is the food. And it is superb. The menu itself reads like a list of every delicious light morsel you might fancy of a summer’s eve. It is divided into hot and cold senzai (appetizers), skewers, gyozas, sushi/sashimi, maki and large plates. They also offer Omakase ($36 a head), a selection of the day’s freshest fish, as chosen by the chef.
When we visited for dinner we began with Tuna Tarts ($14) with creamy ponzu and truffle oil and let me say right now I will be returning on MANY occasions for this dish alone. Wafer thin fresh-as-can-be tuna on a delicate crunchy base, wafting truffle aroma through the air as you lift it from the plate. Incredible. We also had Fried Tiny Fish ($7.50) with powdered vinegar and lemon in a perfect light batter.
Next up came Shrimp Corn Gyozas ($8), a delightful combination of sticky and crisp, and some melt-in-the-mouth Miso Eggplant ($6.50) scattered with crunchy fried capers.
Seabass with Miso Glaze ($26) came served on skewers, and flaked glossily apart with a sweet, buttery flavor nothing short of heavenly. It came served with rice balls, firm on the outside and pleasingly gummy on the inside.
Dessert choices included green tea doughnuts and homemade mochi, but we opted for Vanilla Panacotta with Ginger-Caramelized Fuji Apples. A nice cream dream.
Sommelier Chris Johnson (also of BondSt) has curated the extensive drinks list of sake, shochu, wine and beer, while mixologist Warren Hode is behind alluring house-made sodas with flavors such as Tangerine Jasmine and Celery Honey Dew. Wade is also responsible for house cocktails which include the signature Cherry Bomb (Corralejo blanco tequila, cherry jam, black pepper, lemon) and the awesome Hackie (Kaiun, grapefruit, ume, candied fennel chip). The candied fennel is a taste sensation.
Dining at Cherry Izakaya is a hugely enjoyable experience and it’s the kind of place you’ll want to take people back to repeatedly. The environment is relaxed and attractive, the service knowledgeable and the food spot-on. Do yourself a favor and get over there for a dinner date before it gets booked up.
Cherry Izakaya is at 138 North 8th Street, between Bedford and Berry.
It’s open for dinner nightly and stays open until 2am Thursday-Saturday.
Weekend brunch will begin at the end of August.