Restaurants, Japanese East Village
4 out of 5 stars

Roughly translating to “home away from home,” Bessou is the restaurant here to show New York the lengths Japanese cuisine can reach past sushi and ramen. Tucked away in the East Village, the smallish eatery becomes a mecca of comfort food, where well-conceived takes on owner Maiko Kyogoku’s childhood favorites are honed by chef Emily Yuen’s culinary finesse.

The space is as quaint as it is inviting with a tasteful paper lantern illuminating the space full of blonde wood and exposed brick. On a recent Saturday afternoon, the dining room was packed with locals looking for a departure from the ordinary brunch scene. Case in point: instead of the typical inquiry into what your water preference is, your server greets you with a tumbler of dark barley tea.

Every dish on the menu is both vaguely familiar, yet pleasantly unique. A shakshuka of eggs nestled in a Japanese curry and packed with blistered eggplant is served with thick-cut milk toast for ample dipping. The expertly poached eggs continue into the short rib hash which packs of punch of umami balanced by the verdant snap of fresh pea shoots.

The brunch offerings conclude at the sweetest end to a meal: a stack of Japanese-style pancakes dripping with caramelized bananas foster gets extra richness from black sesame and kinako-cookies-and-cream ice cream. You’ll leave full and ready to crawl back into bed, hopefully with any leftovers you couldn’t finish.

In a city that prides itself on having it all, sometimes you just want a meal that feels like home.

By: Jake Cohen


Venue name: Bessou
Address: 5 Bleecker St between Elizabeth St. and Bowery
New York, NY
Opening hours: Mon-Thu & Sun 5:30-11pm; Fri-Sat 5:30-11:30pm
Transport: B,D,F,M to Broadway/Lafayette or 6 to Bleecker
Price: Average main course: $24.
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