Watch our first look video of Brooklyn Yakuza:
Chef-entrepreneurs Arron Rhodes and Chris Grare, owners of Showmen Group, have been busy since they opened their first restaurant, Kinship, in 2019, followed by the opening of Wyndham Street smokehouse and barbecue restaurant, Smoke & Barrel, in 2020. Now in their third year, the duo continues to go from strength to strength and once again adding not one but two concepts in Central's bustling food and drink scene.
Named Brooklyn Yakuza, the new venue houses two concepts under one roof. On the ground floor, guests can enjoy drinks at Oyabun (which translates to the supreme leader of the Yakuza clan), a spacious Japanese-American-inspired cocktail lounge bar. On the second floor, customers can take their seats at Brooklyn Yakuza, a late-night restaurant serving Japanese American cuisine with an interactive sake bar. The restaurant can seat around 90 people, and the downstairs cocktail lounge can accommodate 80 seated guests. The new venue is located just across Smoke and Barrel; if you are by the terrace, look across, and you'll see Brooklyn Yakuza's silver signage on the left side.
"The name was coined purely just for fun when we were just planning the concept. It was never meant to be the name," explains Arron Rhodes. "And then, as we finally come around to working on the concept and understanding what we were doing and trying to do something different, it kind of stuck," he adds. Born from a shared vision of creating venues that guests would want to visit on a regular basis, Showmen Group's latest venture presents a fun and approachable dining and drinking experience. "Compared to Japanese izakayas, we're going to be a little bit more over the top, a little bit more talkative, and interactive," shares Arron Rhodes.
Inside the space, you'll see Brooklyn and Japan-inspired elements on the interior's minimal yet rugged aesthetics – unfinished cement and exposed concrete ceiling against black furnishings with teal coloured cushioned seats on the second floor and red highlights on the ground floor. "We're blending elements of the two different places in the venue [New York and Japan]," explains Arron. The facade of the building features black tiles inspired by brick buildings in New York. At Oyabun, you'll see graffiti art – created by Hong Kong-based Japanese artist Taxa, one of the finalists of Secret Walls x Hong Kong series 4 in 2016 and the Hong Kong winner of the Vans Asia Custom Culture competition in 2017 – depicting a yakuza with an oni mask tattoo (oni are demons from Japanese folklore) overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. The place was designed by global architecture and interior design firm Zebra, whose works spans from UK, USA, UAE, Korea, and Hong Kong, which includes dining spaces for Shake Shack, PF Chang's, Time Out Market Dubai, and retail shops Charlotte Tilbury, Fresh, West Elm, Pottery Barn, among others.
Leading the kitchen is chef Lorcan Tang, formerly from Rosewood's Bayfare Social, who is stepping into his first role as head chef. "Dishes will come in sharing-style tasting plates, very casual, inexpensive, simple westernized Japanese food," says Arron. "There are no complicated dishes; we're not using too many ingredients on the plates. Whatever the dish is, whether it be crab or sweet corn, we make sure it tastes what it's supposed to be," he adds.
Guests can nibble on cold dishes like the NYC spicy tuna ($150) as well as hot dishes that include black cod in bean sprout risotto with edamame ($198), salmon in red and white miso served on seasoned rice ($188), and Wagyu beef cheek glazed in orange and roast garlic ($268). For dessert, enjoy Arron's recipe of Ishigaki pineapple souffle served with gelato and compote ($88). Customers are encouraged to drop by the sake bar in between meals to enjoy servings of sake from their selection of fruity, floral, and umami sakes, which can be served in glass-blown cups, handcrafted by Arron himself. "Just don't expect these cups to be super perfectly shaped because it's handmade," he enthuses. He creates these colourful glass cups at a local glass blowing studio during his free time.
As of writing, the ground floor cocktail lounge Oyubun is still not operational. But once fully functional, guests can expect regular DJ music nights and a cocktail programme featuring American classic cocktail influences with Japanese ingredients. Cocktails on the menu include an awamori based sour Fuji Fruits ($98) made with pink guava juice, yuzu liqueur, lime cordial, garnished with basil leaf; a boozy New Age Brooklyn ($98) – a riff on the classic Brooklyn cocktail which resembles a Manhattan but with the addition of Maraschino liqueur – made with Fernet Hunter, Lillet Blanco, chocolate and orange bitters; and a selection of highballs ($98).
"Our price point here is very reasonable," Arron says. "We know the Hong Kong market by now, and I think that all these high-end restaurants are super expensive. People nowadays are slowly veering away from that. You can come to Brooklyn Yakuza and order two or three dishes and a glass of wine and just shell out a comfortable $300," he adds. He also says that this new concept will be the last Showmen Group restaurant in Central, as their next goal is to create more venues on the Kowloon side.
The venue is currently in its soft opening and opens for dinner from 5pm to 11pm. Lunch service will begin on October 26 from 12nn to 3pm, and brunch will start on October 31 from 11.30am to 4pm. They are also cooking up a fun Halloween dinner ($800) on October 30, with four-hour free-flow drinks starting at 8pm. If you can't make it to dinner, you may also book the 'drinks only' deal ($350) from 10pm until midnight.
Brooklyn Yakuza is located at 29 Wyndham Street, 29 LKF, Central. Call 2866 1034 for a reservation. Visit brooklynyakuzahk.com for more information. For more updates, follow them on Instagram at @brooklynyakuzahk