Juku — New York, USA
Juku’s footprint on a quiet street in Chinatown may be infamously recognisable at first glance (it was previously occupied by Le Baron), but that’s where all preconceptions end.
Inside, the multi-level Japanese restaurant, which offers izakaya, omakase and a forthcoming whisky and karaage lounge in the basement, has been transformed by architect Sebastian Quinn into an experimental, abstract space that compliments the array of contemporary artworks inside that make nod to owner and gallerist Max Levai.
Guests are first led into a long, stainless steel entryway, simply punctuated with an angular maître’d stand and overhead fluorescent lights. One step further in leads to the recessed dining room and bar, which quirkily combines grey plaster walls, rich wood paneling, crimson coloured banquettes and shiny, black lacquer-like surfaces. One wooden wall functions as a louver, concealing the kitchen as well as the building’s support structures.
Upstairs, an intimate sushi bar in mint tones allows chef Kazuo Yoshida and his team to truly show off their culinary prowess. Both levels are adorned with specially commissioned art from contemporary stars such as Jonah Friedman, Justin Lowe and Roe Etheridge. It’s this marriage of art and design, which is similarly echoed on the culinary front, that solidifies Juku’s renewed identity.