Japanese-style cooking created by New York-born Japanese
Japanese-style cooking create...

Japanese-style cooking create...

Japanese-style cooking create...

Japanese-style cooking create...

Japanese-style cooking create...

By Aya Ota

In NoHo district of Manhattan, there is a restaurant that stands hidden like a hideout. Once you step into the place, a nostalgic and warm space opens out in front of you.

“We would like all kinds of people to relax and enjoy in a nostalgic ambience,” the owner, Maiko Kyogoku explains about the origin of the name, “Bessou” (which means a vacation home). She is a true New Yorker who never lived in Japan although both of her parents are Japanese. She says that she recognized her identity as Japanese, and learned Japanese culture through the home cooking made by her parents. She opened this restaurant hoping to have people enjoy Japanese home-style cooking, not limited to sushi, ramen, etc.

The concept of the restaurant fully reflects Ms. Kyogoku’s personality and characteristics. Creativity and ingenuity that are unique to a New York-born Japanese can be seen everywhere in the restaurant where both elements of tradition and innovation co-exist.

The menu was created by Ms. Kyogoku and Emily Yuen, the executive chef. Ms. Yuen has worked and shown her skills in various well-known Michelin-star awarded restaurants, and is specialized in world-wide cuisines including French and Mediterranean. She was also trained by the father of Ms. Kyogoku who was the owner/chef of “Sushi Rikyu” to master the basics of traditional and genuine Japanese cuisine. She also uses ingredients and the cooking style of Tohoku regions because Ms. Kyogoku’s mother is from Akita. Ms. Kyogoku says, “This restaurant is an extension of my home, and I want it to be the home of every customer who comes here”. The menu reflects her remark, and there are even items with ingredients and styles of Middle Eastern and European cuisines, which provides a mysterious nostalgic feeling to everybody.

In order to help customers to imagine the volume of each dish, the menu is categorized into 3 sections; “Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites”, “Small Dishes”, and “Large Dishes”. Each dish is named as simple as possible, but also tried to make it easy for the customers who are not familiar with izakaya-style menus to understand by including some English words to familiarize them. The same effort has been tried for the sake menu. Instead of Junmai, Dai-Ginjo, etc., it is categorized by the flavors such as “Balanced, Dry, and Clean”, “Juicy, Fragrant, and Rich”, etc. to make it easier to decide.

“Grilled Romaine” ($14) is a plate of grilled Romaine lettuce topped with dried baby sardines and quail eggs covered with creamy sesame dressing. Some Americans think that it tastes similar to American Cesar salad. “Fritto Miso” ($18) is an item which has a large gap from the image of Japanese name, Namban-zuke. The version which a Japanese person normally imagine is fried and sauce-covered, but in their version, the sauce is on the side. The sauce accented by mayor lemons is not thickened, and refreshing. The “Inaniwa Udon” ($24) is served with kakiage vegetable tempura which is fluffy and stands tall like a tower to please your eyes. This dish is an excellent combination of rightly textured udon noodles and crunchy kakiage. Kakuni is usually made with pork, but their “Beef Short Rib Kakuni” ($34) is beef. The boldly served boned beef is cooked to so tender that the meat falls off of the bones easily. This dish is served with the side of home-made satsuma-age fish cake and chickpeas, which looks like cocido, a Spanish dish, to some customers. There are not many items in the menu, but each item is intricately prepared, and very unique.

Although they never advertise, they were featured in “zagat”, “New York Times”, etc. immediately after its opening with good reviews, and customers have been kept coming without a break ever since. “We don’t need to serve popular items such as sushi and ramen to keep running this place successfully. The new Yorkers are adventuresome and full of spirit, and always seek new and different cuisines,” says Ms. Kyogoku, analyzing the reason for the success.  

Although Ms. Kyogoku’s father was running a sushi restaurant, he did not really wanted her to get into the restaurant business. It may be because he knew this non-stop and hard scheduled business so well through his own experience.

However, Ms. Kyogoku had loved the restaurant environment ever since she was very young, and always had a dream of someday having her own restaurant. She was once employed by an artist, Takashi Murakami, but after quitting the job, she built her restaurant career working in various top-class restaurants as a hostess, a manager, or an event director until she finally opened her own place in August of 2016. Using such extensive experience, she sometimes holds an event to learn how to make gyoza, offers Japanese traditional and seasonal dishes such as new-years osechi, or seasonal nabe dishes, etc. She also started to hold the test kitchen event by inviting a guest chef, and also started to offer week-end brunch. This is a place where the possibility of Japanese home cooking widens. I urge you to visit this restaurant!




メニューは、京極氏とエミリー・ユアン料理長で考案した。ユアン氏はミシュラン星を獲得した数々の名店で腕を奮い、フレンチや地中海など世界各国の料理に精通したシェフだ。ユアン氏は、かつて『Sushi Rikyu』のオーナーシェフを務めた京極氏の父親から訓練を受け、本格的かつ伝統的な日本料理の基礎をしっかり身につけたという。そして、京極氏の母親が秋田県出身ということを意識し、秋田をはじめとした東北地方由来の食材や料理も取り入れている。「この店は、自分の家庭の延長でもあり、訪れる客全員にとっての家庭でもありたい」と京極氏が語るように、メニューからは、中東や欧米料理で使われるような素材や味付けを感じることもあり、誰にとっても不思議な懐かしさがある。

メニュー構成は、居酒屋スタイルに不慣れな客でも、量を想像しやすいように「おつまみ/Otsumami-Home Style Japanese Bites」「前菜/Small Dishes」「主菜/Large Dishes」の3つに分類している。メニュー名はできるだけシンプルにしつつも、米国人に親しみのある単語を入れて、内容を分かりやすく説明するよう心がけている。日本酒メニューも、純米や大吟醸という種類ではなく、「Balance, Dry,Clean」「Juicy, Fragrant, Rich」のようにフレーバーで分類し、選びやすい工夫をしている。



5 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-228-8502

Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30PM