774 Amsterdam Ave. (98th St.)
With its distinctive and characteristic art, Moonrise Izakaya brings a different pop of color to the corner of 98th Street and Broadway that was previously occupied by kosher restaurant Boru Boru and before that, Joon Fine Seafood. Owner Jacob Poznak is excited to bring a different vibe and cuisine to the Bloomingdale neighborhood.
An “izakaya” is a traditional Japanese pub that specializes in drinks and small plates. Jacob, however, emphasizes that it’s very family-friendly. Before 7pm, its mostly families who frequent the establishment. One of the things that pops out when one steps into the restaurant is the colorful and fun stickers that cover the walls and tables. “No stickers were here when we opened four weeks ago,” Jacob says. “We have a large pitcher full of stickers and the kids love sticking them up everywhere.” This points to the bottom line in Jacob and Moonrise Izakaya’s business model: bringing in and involving the neighborhood.
“We want to be part of the neighborhood, and we want the neighborhood to be a part of us”
He was drawn to the Bloomingdale neighborhood when he was visiting friends and family that live on the Upper West Side. Jacob wants the neighborhood to learn about the traditions of the Japanese izakaya experience and about Japanese culture beyond sushi. Moonrise Izakaya will host experimental/educational nights such as a sake tasting workshop.
The most important aspect in the creative process for opening this restaurant was the “vibe,” Jacob says. It’s probably best captured by the graffiti-style art on the walls- all done by the well-known Japanese-NYC street artist, Shiro. As for the music, Jacob says it’s all classic rock to which anyone would sing along to. On certain weekend nights, there is even a vinyl DJ that comes in.
Jacob wanted to create a true authentic izakaya experience, similar to what one would experience in Tokyo. Moonrise Izakaya has the iconic bottle-keep, where diners can choose to store an unfinished, decorated bottle of soju, and continue drinking it when they come back. The establishment currently has a wide selection of 30 different types of soju, and Jacob hopes to expand the bottle-keep tradition to whiskey. The entire menu is designed to be shared and features small plates and larger format dishes to appease any and all cravings. The space seats 42 people, offering an intimate, yet lively environment to dine with small or large groups.
Be sure to check out Moonrise Izakaya for its awesome street art and experience its traditional izakaya menu items such as their bao buns (their #1 menu item), corn cheese, and mapu tofu.
774 Amsterdam Ave.
Feature by: Joyce Shin