We’ve been around long enough to remember the Lower East Side of dreary and desolate streets, a Mexican joint dotted here and there, and a few old standbys where we’d already tried everythingâ¦ twice. But without debating gentrification here, it sometimes brings about the things that make us happiest – like killer Japanese food.
Now, even in this new era of LES, there have only been limited Japanese options. So we’re thrilled with the understated chic of the BBF block newborn, which opened in July on Ludlow. Although we passed the inconspicuous entrance once and then again, once inside, the dimly lit, white interior instantly transported us to Tokyo, or maybe Osaka. The young Japanese crowd had great hair and effortless fashion worth mentioningâ¦ but this place really is all about the food.
BBF was born when Michelin-starred chef Chikara Sono (the longtime mastermind of East Village’s Kyo Ya) teamed up with chef Makoto Suzuki (of Samurai Mama, Bozu, and Brooklyn Ball Factory). Add to this powerful duo a stellar cocktail list designed by Angel’s Share bartender Nana Shimosegawa, and a long list of sakes curated by sake sommelier Chisuko Niikawa, arguably New York’s best.
Anyone Old Fashioned Raisin Butter? Sparkling Japanese curry? Or maybe a ‘cloudy’ Nigori sake is more to your liking. We have tried all of the above and seriously considered another round of each.
Perfectly matched drinks by hand, we started with the Anago Fish and Chips. This sea eel tempura was served wrapped in paper, British style, but with dashi sauce and sansho peppers – sometimes a mix of lore beats tradition, hands down. and fish melting in your mouth. (BBF stands for Brooklyn Ball Factory by the way, where sushi also comes in charming little spheres.) That’s what sushi is meant to be, and our only question was, why isn’t more sushi floating around. not in our mouth in the shape of a perfect UFO pieces?
We also loved the grilled baby mackerel spanish, salted overnight and served on a bed of ratatouille. Dirty Finger Spare Ribs with Garlic Sauce were super wow, and Natoora’s Farm Salad was deliciously one of a kind. Served in a glass measuring cup, we ate the crunchy, palate-cleansing vegetables with our fingers (was that rude?), Dipping them first in a delicious ginger vinaigrette and lemon mayonnaise. garlic. If sweets are your thing, the Mochi Shiratama with Strawberry Anko Sauce was truly the next level, perhaps the most perfectly made Japanese dessert we’ve ever tasted. .
So yes, BBF, it’s Japan meeting the West at its best; and although he has a decidedly modernist touch, Chef Sono is deeply rooted in tradition and knows exactly how to experiment without pushing the limits too far. He has, after all, a solid background in Kaiseki (traditional Japanese multi-course meal).
And speaking of which, we now officially can’t wait to try the Kaiseki Kappo Sono bar which is slated to open soon, serving omakase in a private 8-seat room at the back of the space.