After high-profile chef’s gigs at such sushi destinations as Zama, Pod, and Double Knot, Kevin Yanaga has a place of his own in Fishtown, taking over the former Aether with Glu Hospitality’s Derek Gibbons and Tim Liu.
Izakaya by Yanaga (1832 Frankford Ave., just off Berks Street), which will be joined in the fall by an omakase room, is in soft-opening mode. There’s a limited izakaya menu of raw and cooked items, and a bar stocked with cocktails, sakes and wines, and six draft beers (including Asahi rice lager). Yanaga’s menu will influence the drinks, too, as in the Duck Fat Saz cocktail, a classic sazerac using rye that has been fat-washed with duck fat rendered from menu items.
Izakaya’s vibe is low-lit but high-energy at the bar and at the table seating in the front room. The intimate omakase room will be set behind decorative doors in the very back.
Yanaga, born in California but raised in Japan, started cooking professional in Kawasaki before moving back to the States. His second in the kitchen is Tom LoMonte, most recently at Zama.
Recommended: the curry short rib bao, ika fries (that’s the calamari-and-shishito pepper combo), and all the raw dishes, including chirashi and maki. Two mazemen, brothless ramen, are on the opening menu.
John Christinzio and Quest Design have worked with the 25-foot bar, topped with polished marble, across from 24 seats in arrangements of two and four. Beyond the bar, the second dining room seats 24, with seating available for larger parties.
For the first several weeks, seating is walk-in only. OpenTable will handle reservations thereafter.
Glu Hospitality’s Liu and Gibbons, incidentally, are on a bit of a development tear of late, particularly in nearby Northern Liberties. They are weeks from opening Figo Ristorante and Figo Pizzeria at the former Wahlburgers at the Piazza, close to their new Bagels & Co. shop.
Glu operates Leda & The Swan and Vesper in Center City, plus Vesper Dayclub, Germantown Garden, and its ancillary eateries, and two ghost kitchens, Hunnies Crispy Chicken and Tiny’s Burger Joint. Glu is also partners in Anejo Philadelphia and SET NoLibs, both along Northern Liberties’ Second Street restaurant row.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 3 and Sept. 4, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sept. 9 to Sept. 12. Starting Sept. 15, it goes to 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Later this fall, happy hour, lunch, and weekend brunch will be part of expanded hours.