Boka Restaurant Group and Chef Gene Kato of Momotaro have announced Itoko, a Japanese restaurant that will open this fall in the Southport Corridor at 3325 N. Southport Avenue, alongside two other Boka Restaurant Group projects: GG’s Chicken Shop by Chef Lee Wolen and Little Goat Diner by Chef Stephanie Izard.
The Japanese word for “cousin,” Itoko is a description for the ties between this new concept and Chef Kato’s Momotaro and The Izakaya at Momotaro in the Fulton Market District. Interior design was handled by Brand Bureau (a design and branding division of AvroKO, the firm that designed Momotaro). After researching heritage and modern interpretations of traditional Japanese tea houses, Brand Bureau designed a space in the Japandi (the blending of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics) style meant to echo the respect for tradition. Itoko will be 2,750 square feet on the first floor with a 650-square-foot private dining room on the second level.
An example of the intentional co-mingling of design and culinary technique is the fstory of the robata grill that will be featured prominently both on the menu and in the space. Chef Kato has managed to acquire his original robata grill from his time at Sumi, which was custom designed in Japan, and this piece of his personal and professional history will be a mainstay in the Itoko kitchen.
The menu itself will also feature sushi rolls that allow the fish to be the star of the sushi experience. In addition, a beverage menu with a focus on cocktails & highballs will highlight the relationship between the technique of the food created by the kitchen and how this is complemented by the beverage selection. This will be supplemented by a sake program.
Itoko will open this fall/winter, as will GG’s Chicken Shop, and Little Goat Diner will follow close behind in late winter/spring.