Kobeyaki, A Fresh Approach to Japanese Food, Branches Out to NYC’s Upper East Side

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The Japanese fast casual restaurant Kobeyaki will open a third location in NYC’s Upper East Side right on the heels of the success of the two other Manhattan locations.

Known for their rolls, bowls, burgers and buns, Kobeyaki has accomplished what was thought to be a culinary impossibility, serving delicious Japanese food without slowing customers down.

The Japanese fast casual restaurant Kobeyaki will open a third location in NYC’s Upper East Side right on the heels of the success of the two other Manhattan locations, one in the Fashion District and another in Midtown. Known for their rolls, bowls, burgers and buns, Kobeyaki has accomplished what was thought to be a culinary impossibility - serving delicious Japanese food without slowing customers down.

The new Upper East Side location at 215 East 86th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue opens on Wednesday, October 1st. This will be the third Kobeyaki location in the three years since the first location opened on 7th Avenue between 26th & 27th street. For the last two years in the Fashion District and at Bryant Park the lunch crowd has sworn by Kobeyaki’s Soft Shell Crab Bun, Spicy Tuna Roll, Kobe Beef Burger and their most-talked about Tempura Sweet Potato Fries. Now, Kobeyaki brings these menu items to a revitalized 86th street, which has always been a key thoroughfare in the Upper East Side, but now reflects a younger, hipper Upper East Side.

Kobeyaki is the brainchild of an entrepreneurial trio lead by Brian Konopka, a chef and operator with a storied resume that includes the kitchens of Le Cirque and El Bulli and his partners Brian Kelly, a former NYC fire fighter and business veteran who started his own chain of coffee bars and Salvador Barrera, a chef whose career highlights include cooking in Japan and running the kitchens of Japanese restaurants for more than a decade. The trio combined the words ‘Kobe,’ an area in Japan that’s home to high-grade beef, and ‘Yaki,’ the Japanese word for grill, to signify that their venture serves top-quality food, hot off the grill, quicker than a sit-down restaurant. So even though Kobeyaki’s dishes aren’t as complex (or expensive) as the world-renowned food that this trio is used to crafting, they’re just as fresh and thoughtfully prepared.

Office workers on the go can relish in the fact that they no longer have to resort to refrigerated maki rolls for their take-out sushi fix, as Kobeyaki churns out favorites like the Shrimp Tempura Roll ($8.97) and Salmon Volcano Roll ($8.97) to-order, so the rice is still warm and a wonderful contrast to the cool fish. Kobeyaki is also distinguishing itself from the typical Japanese restaurant by serving Asian street food with a twist. Kobeyaki has created a special bun, which is glazed golden brown and slightly crispy, on which to serve their sushi-grade Spicy Tuna Burger ($8.97) and luscious Pork Bun ($8.27), starring meat that’s been braised for more than four hours until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. As filling as that sounds, the Bowls – made with noodles, brown or white rice or salad – are even heartier. Diners can customize their meal, choosing from a variety of options such as beef tenderloin or grilled “all natural” chicken or shrimp, as well as farm-fresh veggies like edamame and grilled zucchini. For lighter fare, the Tuna Tataki Salad ($9.66) packed with avocado and sushi-grade Tuna served with ginger dressing is a crowd-pleasing option. As an added bonus, these clean-tasting Japanese dishes are known to have plenty of health benefits, so you can enjoy a delicious and guilt-free meal.

For dinner, diners can linger over pitchers of draft beer, bottles of Sake and light wines from Oregon that pair well with the food. Service may be speedy, but the restaurant’s cushioned wooden booths and long communal table make the place perfect for a relaxed evening meal. The restaurant also serves desserts like Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla and Sesame Icing ($3.25) and their Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich ($3.25).

So whether you’re looking for a light lunch or a leisurely dinner with friends and family, Kobeyaki fits the bill.

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