What does one do after working under wd~50’s Wylie Dufresne for several years, traveling and cooking throughout Japan and returning to feel a real lack of adequate convivial Japanese after-work drinking-and-dining spots in NYC?
We have no idea. We’ve never done any of those things.
But Chef John McCarthy’s answer comes in the form of Oka, an izakaya-inspired spot open now on an increasingly promising block of Murray Hill.
You’ll find it across the street from Australian cafe Ruby’s and the recently opened lunch spot Local Leaf. A narrow, intimate space with an intricate wooden structure above the bar, a few artworks and a sleek, welcoming feel. Come after work with coworkers, friends, or the select few people who check both of those boxes. You’ll find the plates to be small, for the most part, and shareable, for the most part. Salmon roe with yeasted sunchoke puree and chips, udon in dashi, edamame salad served atop shrimp crackers. Your menu, right here.
Not surprisingly, the chef also happens to be a sake sommelier, so you’re in a good place libation-wise—whether you go with a Lillet Blossom (lillet, vodka, ginjo sake, ginger, grapefruit), sweet potato shochu, or Japanese whiskey. For those of you interested in really quite beautiful flower-topped citrus-y champagne cocktails, the name you’re looking for is “Hanami.”
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