Turning Tables: Tao Group Hospitality Opens Sake No Hana in New York

Turning Tables: Tao Group Hospitality Opens Sake No Hana in New York

Expanding its global portfolio, Tao Group Hospitality opened a new restaurant on December 6 at the Moxy Lower East Side hotel in New York City: Sake No Hana, a vibrant venue for contemporary Japanese cuisine. A reinvention of the original Sake No Hana in London (which closed in 2021), it joins more than 70 Tao properties, including the group’s Hakkasan restaurants and Spectator of wine Winner of the Best of Excellence Award at the Cathédrale at the Moxy East Village in New York.

Tao’s chef Ralph Scamardella worked with chefs Yoshi Kojima and Jason Hall to develop Sake No Hana’s menu, influenced in part by the casual izakaya bars of Japan. “The culinary vision behind Sake No Hana was really inspired by this vibrant sense of fusion country with a little New York City flare,” said Hall, who is vice president of culinary operations at Tao. Spectator of wine via e-mail. “The energy of [izakayas] it’s very intertwined with the drink, and we wanted to create a really fun menu that pairs well with all kinds of wines, cocktails, beer and sake.” The restaurant sources fish from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market and snow-age fillets from Niigata Prefecture.

Executive chef Nick Phongmekin runs the kitchen, where his team cooks kushiyaki-style skewers on a traditional robata grill, cooks Japanese wagyu over binchotan charcoal and makes fresh sesame oil with a seed press. The menu is divided into six sections, with dishes such as amiyaki mushroom salad, Narikura-style pork tonkatsu, short rib yakimeshi (fried rice), bamboo branzino, A5 Miyazaki fillet and assorted sushi.

    A ceramic bowl and plate that evokes Japanese pottery holding short rib fried rice and a bone

Sake No Hana’s menu includes a variety of Japanese-style dishes, including short rib yakimeshi. (Ashley Sears)

Senior Beverage Director Nikki McCutcheon leads the wine program, which features 75 grape-based wines and 26 styled sakes, including local Brooklyn Kura. “We wanted to bring home the iconic varieties and producers that guests know and love,” explained McCutcheon. “Regions that we knew would pair well with our cuisine, like Burgundy, were a big focus to highlight. Also, opening so close to New Year’s Eve, we had a little fun expanding our bubbly list!” Well-known wineries are featured everywhere, such as Australia’s Penfolds, France’s Guigal and Oregon’s Beaux Frères.

“We hope guests will find our list accessible with familiar favorites but also glimpses of new and interesting options,” said McCutcheon, who expects the drink list to grow. “Our team is there to guide them through an experience, whether it’s tasting a pairing menu or decanting an ’09 Bordeaux.”

Rockwell Group designed Sake No Hana with flashes of the 1980s Lower East Side punk scene, and nods to Japan’s analog yankii motorcycle subculture. The space features elements of leather, metal and glass, along with long kimono-like tapestries and – suspended from the dining room’s mirrored ceiling – lighting fixtures reminiscent of traditional Japanese ceramics. Other lights suggest lanterns, helping to create Moxy’s “pleasure garden” setting.

Tao fans can look forward to a new Las Vegas Cathedral location, set to open in the spring of 2023.

    A hand holding a plate of greens and a boeuf cooked in croûte.

Among the classic French dishes that Brasserie Laurel serves is a boeuf en croûte. (FujiFilmGirl)

The Ariete team opens Brasserie Laurel in Miami

Miami’s dining scene has gone from strength to strength this year and shows no signs of slowing down. Earlier this month, after nearly three years of planning, chef-restaurateur Michael Beltran added a new downtown restaurant to Ariete Hospitality Group: Brasserie Laurel, a French-inspired eatery at Miami’s Worldcenter complex.

“There are other big operators in that part of town,” Beltran said Spectator of wine via e-mail. “We wanted to join that wave — I guess if you want to call it a ‘downtown renaissance.'”

On their menu, Beltran and executive chef Ashley Moncada give French classics their own spin, offering dishes like scallops with almond gazpacho, tuna with colatura di alici aioli, escargot with herb butter, almond frog legs and venison tartare. For entrees, guests can expect whole trout with stone prawns, a pork chop with fennel and scallion guinea fowl. Vegetable accompaniments and a serving of caviar add even more variation. “Going back to the classic technique was something that inspired Chef Ashley and me,” explained Beltran. “[Laurel’s cuisine is] this beautiful, modern interpretation of classic technique and classic flavor profiles.”

Wine director Adrian Lopez has collected more than 75 labels for the predominantly France-focused list, which is divided into Old World and New World sections. Both the 15-wine list and the wider program spotlight France’s key regions and respected wineries, featuring Lallier of Champagne, Hubert Brochard of the Loire Valley, Château Carbonnieux of Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du -Pape’s Domaine and many more. Diners can also expect selections from California, Oregon, Italy, Spain and Germany, including Sonoma Chardonnay, Barolo and Ribera del Duero Reds. “When it comes to winemakers and wineries, we focus on small, boutique wineries that are not [mass-producing]and family-owned estates,” Lopez said. “We focus on many of the classics when it comes to grape varieties; we have a little bit of everything for every taste, from Aligoté to Malbec from Cahors.”

“The experience is supposed to be elegant yet comfortable; Refined but approachable and above all delicious and fun,” said Beltran.

Laurel joins a host of siblings in the greater Miami area, including Beltran’s Gibson’s Room, Navé, Chug’s Diner and Spectator of wine Winner of the Ariete Excellence Award, located in Coconut Grove. That list is getting two more additions: Chug’s Express and the new El Vecino, opening soon in Worldcenter.

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