Located on the second floor of Tribeca restaurant MEGU, M Lounge's swank, nightclub-like atmosphere comes with a striking view. An 800-pound temple bell and a Buddha ice sculpture dominate the dining room below its sleek balcony. The lounge itself doesn't lack for opulent decor, either—300 rolls of antique kimono fabric line the low-slung walls.
An American-style bar with Japanese flair, M Lounge translates MEGU's style into casual atmosphere. Patrons can pick from a long list of craft cocktails, including Japanese-inspired takes on the margarita and the bellini, or opt for bottle service as they recline on plush couches. Waitresses will also deliver dishes from an extensive food menu, which includes Megu's original kobe beef burger.
The chef at this 9-table spot gives nearly as much thought to the presentation of his kaiseki dishes as to the food itself. Named for a famous Japanese potter, the restaurant offers up its ever-changing cuisine in intricately carved ceramic vessels, plates, and chalices. Even the chopsticks are eye catching, hand-carved from red cedar in Kyoto.
Don’t come to this Japanese-American-Korean fusion restaurant looking for a simple bowl of noodles. The ramen here comes in seven savory or spicy varieties, from a seafood version served with head-on shrimp and manila clams to a warning-level spicy soup made from a pork base and topped with tofu, pickled ginger, clams, and nori.
By combining the food and drink selection of a traditional Japanese izakaya with the modern ambiance of a metropolitan cocktail lounge, Sakebar SHiGURE creates a low-key, inviting atmosphere intended to lure in passersby. It's an "antidote to East Village sake dives," according to New York magazine, which also described it as "accessible to both the rice wine aficionado and the shochu novice." The drink menu does seem to be a source of pride for Sakebar SHiGURE, featuring 14 types of shochu as well as 40 different rice wines—including many from small-batch producers according to Time Out New York. To accompany these tipples, the lounge serves small, shareable plates such as grilled edamame until as late as 1 a.m.
With its intimate lighting, exposed brickwork, and palette of warm earth tones, Sakebar SHiGURE's decór exudes a calming spirit ideally suited for casual conversation. Despite being somewhat contemporary, the space also features a handful of traditional touches including posters of vintage-style Japanese advertisements. One wall even features a massive, black and white mural of Japan with each of the country's prefectures outlined, numbered, and given a unique nickname.
Sushein's sushi will slip right through your fingers if you're not fast enough. A rotating conveyer belt, like an airport carousel full of tiny, brightly colored edible luggage, carries the super-fresh morsels past diners, who can pluck up the rolls of their choice as they approach. Wildly popular in Japan, this processes, known as Kaiten-style sushi, allows diners to sample many different kinds of rolls in a lively and whimsical environment. White blown-glass chandeliers illuminate the bite-laden conveyer belt as diners watch from their perches in stylish white booths and white tables. Flat-screens broadcast anything from the game to late-night shows on Saturday, when Sushein’s sushi scoots by diners until 1 a.m.
The party professionals at Biny Karaoke Bar thrill guests with karaoke, rotating drink specials, and Japanese fusion fare. Diners situated in one of seven private karaoke rooms or the restaurant's fluorescently decorated main lounge can choose one of more than 20,000 songs to sing while munching on sushi rolls, indulging in innovative Japanese entrees such as salmon teriyaki or tonkatsu, or air-drumming with chopsticks. Karaoke songs span from 1960 to present day and are available in multiple languages.