In the current fine-dining market, where heading out for dinner is just as much about the experience as it is the food, restaurants really have to pull out the stops to make an impact. Nikutei Futago, the second New York outpost from the Futago group, is one destination that got the memo.
Having opened its doors this spring in the heart of SoHo, Nikutei Futago aims to transport guests away from the hustle and bustle of inner-city Manhattan. The restaurant is tucked away behind a secretive door in SoHo, with guests invited to knock to enter before being greeted by their Nikutei Futago host. This mysterious speakeasy vibe sets the tone for the evening to come.
While the restaurant is sister to the nearby Yakiniku Futago – a more casual Japanese steakhouse – it is the first New York outpost of the celebrated Nikutei Futago branch. Like the two other locations in Tokyo, Nikutei Futago New York is sophisticated, authentic and luxurious, with a focus on the world’s most famous (and most delicious) beef: Wagyu.
The entire Futago portfolio – which encompasses more than 90 concepts across Hong Kong, Japan and the states – is based on the vision of the founders, the Lee brothers. Born in Osaka, known as the home of barbecue-style yakiniku cuisine, the twins sought to develop their own unique take on the food of their home city.
Following the opening of their first Futago (Japanese for ‘twin’) restaurant in Tokyo in 2010, the Lees have rapidly expanded their offering, branching out from the more casual Yakiniku Futago eateries to the more high-end Nikutei Futago restaurants.
Naturally, the brothers can’t man the kitchens of each of their global portfolio of restaurants personally. Instead, they employ only the most skilled staff, experienced in handling, cooking and serving high-grade Waygu beef.
Nikutei Futago is tasting menu only, with the number of courses changing regularly. While the dishes will generally adapt with the seasons, the menu will always hold premium cuts of authentic Japanese A5 Wagyu as the star. As the center ingredient that the entire menu will revolve around, the beef will naturally be of the best quality, with only the highest classification bought from esteemed purveyors.
Each table features its own submerged grill, ensuring that the melt-in-your-mouth Waygu beef can be seared tableside. Not only does this promise a theatrical dining experience, but it also ensures that the meat can be eaten immediately after cooking to maximize flavor. The meat is served in many guises, from rich ramen dishes to fresh sushi courses. The plating is an art in itself; some courses are served in delicate porcelain, others in elaborate bento-style boxes.
The food is accompanied by a comprehensive optional sake pairing. Nikutei Futago prioritizes full-bodied sakes rich with umami flavors to pair with its Waygu in order to bring out the depth of the meat.
The interiors at Nikutei Futago are quite unlike anything else in the city. After being greeted by their host, guests are guided through a lush Japanese-inspired garden before being seated in intimate individual dining spaces, with a total of just 38 covers per seating. Separated by Shoji (sliding doors) or Noren linen curtains, each cozy space gives off the air of having been invited to dine at the home of friends or family.
The design is chic and simple, with cool neutral woods and flashes of white lit up with an abundance of natural light and Japanese artwork.
Nikutei Futago, 341 West Broadway, New York, New York 10013, nikuteifutago.com