Cho Cho San Japanese Restaurant
15 W. 8th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-473-3333
The latest addition to 8th Street’s evolving restaurant row, Cho Cho San is a neighborhood homecoming for Jun Nagano, the former manager at West 13th Street’s shuttered Taste of Tokyo. Nagano has taken on the chef’s role here, incorporating a few Western riffs into the traditional foods he grew up with. Bakudan are Pecorino-flecked meatballs served with Nagano’s sister’s “special sauce”; niko niko is pan-fried oysters wrapped in bacon. There’s a daily pasta and a daily curry, and sushi prepared by Taste of Tokyo veteran Yoshi Azegami. Besides being a cook, Nagano is also a singer, and one of his partners is a former opera director at the Met. That might explain why they named their place for the heroine of Madama Butterfly, and one of the sushi rolls, the Puccini, after its composer.