Inagiku, NYC

Inagiku was midtown Manhattan's first Japanese fine dining establishment. Owned by Tokyo-based Tomas Inagiku International, Inc., the venerable restaurant recently underwent a $1.3 million transformation. Both Chef Haruo Ohbu's menu and Adam Tihany's interiors now address the aesthetic tension between the time-honored and the forward-looking, between classical and modern. They represent a fresh approach to Asian restaurants in America, uncluttered by cliche, and best expressed as NewStyle Japanese.

Inagiku is located at the Waldorf-Astoria in the heart of midtown Manhattan; street entrance at 111 East 49th Street. The restaurant is managed by Masayuki Shimura, a veteran restaurateur who previously worked in concert with Chef Ohbu at San Diego's Yae, also owned by Tomas Inagiku International.

The dress code is smart casual; jacket and tie not required. Reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner; call Manager Shimura at (212) 355-0440. Inagiku seats 179 total.

LUNCH: Monday-Friday from Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Appetizers from $7 and entrees from $18.50
Kagomori - Lunch in a Basket: $29
Sanshokudon three rice or noodle based dishes, $19
Inagiku Lunch (two first courses, entree, dessert): $35

DINNER: Daily from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Appetizers from $7 and Entrees from $20.00
Complete Dinner (two appetizers, soup, entree, dessert): $48
Omakase Tasting Dinners: $58, $70 & $90 (complementary Champagne, sakes and wines, $32)
Wagyu Steak: $98


6:30 pm on Monday, June 21st: An exploration of the mystique of sake with 12 premium sakes accompanied by a five-course dinner (details)


Chef Haruo Ohbu has rethought what it means to be a Japanese chef cooking in America. After 11 years at Inagiku, Ohbu embarked on a gastronomic tour of Japan -- region by region, rural to urban -- discovering how his country's established cuisines are adapting to today's relentless globalization of foodways. Ohbu took a fresh look at Inagiku's menu; he retained some traditional offerings such as sushi, sashimi, tempura and shabu-shabu, but added inspired new dishes and approaches to the classics that reflect the frisson when Japan meets New York. It is a respectful reversal, using Japanese ingredients -- shiitake and enokidake, sea urchin, green-tea flavors, eel, tofu, daikon -- in Western ways.



More casual than traditional ceremonial Japanese restaurants, Adam Tihany's design is supremely stylish. The warm and magical space feels Japanese, but with an unusual sense of openness and theatricality. The NewStyle appears in the large central Shabu Shabu Bar that encourages Western-style socializing. The traditional appears in the classically orthodox private tatami rooms. They are harmonized by two recurring motifs: abstract interpretations of grains of rice (as sconces, sculptures and even a massive red grain-as-chandelier over the bar) and the ying/yang symbol transformed into a design motif repeated throughout (in furniture, fabrics, glass and stone). The restaurant symbolizes the interweaving of the traditional into the modernity emerging in Japan.

At the Bar:
The lively Shabu Shabu Bar features a Shabu-Shabu lunch of thin-sliced sirloin and vegetables dipped in savory bouillon, which is heated on NewStyle induction cookers. In the evening, the bar food menu features: shrimp tempura with green tea and curry dipping salts; fried calamari with wasabi-accented dipping sauce; and the more traditional beef negima and chicken teriyaki.

Private Tatami Rooms:
Designed in conjunction with Adam Tihany by Japanese architect Horokazu Kominami, they reflect the classic lines and proportions of the traditional private tatami room. Two tatami rooms combine to seat up to 18 people while three smaller rooms accommodate 4 to 6, with the full Inagiku menu available.