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80 Good

A stylish, welcoming restaurant specializing in cosmopolitan Japanese home cooking. 

5 Bleecker St., New York, NY, 10012


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The lowdown

Bessou, which means something like “second home” in Japanese, is the rare restaurant that’s as stylish as it is warm and welcoming. The music is contemporary and hip but played softly; there’s never a risk that conversations will turn to din. The dining room is mostly blond wood and white paint, with a single brick wall, stocked shelves that look like they could be at a mountain inn, and some subdued art on the wall. The design calls your attention to the colorful plates of regularly changing, contemporary Japanese home cooking rolling out of the kitchen: shiso leaves wrapped around miso accented with peanut; meat salads of Japanese-style beef carpaccio or thinly sliced pork belly. The food is not strictly Japanese but influenced by the owner’s childhood in New York, evident in dishes like a fried cauliflower and chicken karaage seasoned with Moroccan spices and served with shisho tzatziki. More traditional is the Inaniwa udon, a regional variation (served hot or cold) of thin, silky noodles, a sweet but subtle broth, and a heap of tempura. Desserts, though limited, are a highlight. There will be ice cream, in flavors like miso-caramel and a great green-tea variation.

Chris Crowley

What you need to know

Recommended DishesShisho cigars; Inaniwa udon; chicken karaage; ice cream.

Noise LevelCivilized