Thursday, November 30, 2006
Huge in Japan
Pioneering New York restauranteur and author Danny Meyer--the man who brought us the groundbreaking Union Square Cafe as well as upscale ribs with Blue Smoke, Americanized Indian at Tabla, high-end continental with Gramercy Tavern and killer dogs at Shake Shack, announced he will open a Union Square Cafe in Tokyo this March. He told the NY Post it would be reminiscent of the USC in Manhattan, with signature dishes like filet mignon of tuna, but that it would "cater to the Tokyo market." I'm not exactly sure what that means, though perhaps it means they'll serve their pan-seared sea scallops encrusted with some ginger wasabi ridiculousness. Like Hansel, that is so hot right now.
As a Meyer follower, I think Tokyo is a pretty cool step for him. The Japanese, with their fine culinary traditions, should enjoy having Meyer spread his restaurant gospel in Tokyo, especially through an offshoot of the Union Square Cafe, still one of New York's best, most comfortable high-end restaurants. Once Danny gets his crop of regular customers in Tokyo, he'll no doubt make them feel like they own shares in the joint. "When guests talk about a restaurant as if it's theirs," Meyer told me. "they can't wait to share it with friends."
I'm curious to see how he'll adapt the Meyer model to pull in a crop of regulars at USC Tokyo. No doubt he'll lay on the charm, uh, the hospitality, he's famous for. "Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction," Meyer told me over coffee this summer, explaining how valuable it was for him to develop habitues at USC, something he's executed brilliantly. The place, for example, is filled every lunch hour with publishing regulars.
I wish Danny all the best and hope to visit USC East someday to see first hand what the Tokyo regulars think of our latest culinary export.--S