Tokyo Record Bar is a cool cellar restaurant modeled after restaurants in Tokyo. It seats just 18 and you have to get a reservation a fair bit in advance. Like the owner’s other restaurant, Niche Niche (see our review here), they serve a tasting menu and everyone eats the same thing. The main themes of the restaurant are the record player (and extensive record collection) and the Japanese-inspired food. The vibe in this place is so cool and fun, we really enjoyed it.
Tokyo Record Bar is in the West Village on Macdougal. It’s easy to miss from the street. When you get there, you plainly see the Champagne Bar owned by the same person, but it looks like the record bar is downstairs. Don’t go downstairs, that’s the exit 🙂 Someone came and got us from the street to take us into the restaurant. Turns out, you walk through the Champagne Bar to a narrow staircase that will take you to the cellar. Once there, you’re seated at a pre-set up spot.
The popcorn, pretzels and cucumbers were all really spicy and delicious. They give you a shot of sake as well to wake up your pallet. The Vinyl Jukebox pamphlet pictured here contains the long list of hits organized by year that you pick for the DJ to play. Each person in the restaurant picks one song. The DJ then put all the songs together for your entertainment for the night. We picked Violent Femmes and Talking Heads. It was amazing! So fun.
They started our meal with an oyster for Neal and tofu for me. The tofu was really good! I was impressed. Then they brought me shishito peppers and Neal a scallop.
We were both very pleased with these. Little did we know, another great course was coming. This time, tuna for Neal and daikon radish for me.
Neal said the tuna was fantastic. The daikon was great, but I have to say I could only eat like 4 of the slices. It gets to be a bit much! The asparagus was very good as well.
The next course was a salad. They featured a Japanese-style caesar salad.
It seems very simple, but man, it was good! The crumble on top was to die for! And I can’t say I normally like caesar salad. At this point, we’re really getting into the vibe. The music’s going and the sake’s flowin. We were ready for the main course!
The Main Course
The main course was excellent. I had mushrooms and eggplant over peppers, and Neal had mushrooms and steak over peppers. It all sat in a sauce of sorts that I just wanted to lap up.
I was so happy with this dish! At Niche Niche, which we also really enjoyed, the vegetarian options weren’t nearly as good. This place clearly plans for vegetarians, whereas I’m not sure Niche Niche does. I heard people also talking about them being able to accommodate pescatarians and dairy allergies. That makes a lot of sense in a place like this!
If I thought I was content with the main course, it was because I didn’t know what was coming next. The dessert. Holy cow. It was a strawberry-yuzo dish with whipped cream on top. I couldn’t stop eating it (until I had to because it was so sadly gone).
I could have eaten this forever. I could have died in that little dish. Oh my, so good!!
The Final Course
Yes, that was a lot of food. Course after course after course. But we weren’t done yet! According to the restaurant, in Tokyo they end these types of meals with pizza because a tasting menu can sometimes leave you a little hungry. So they cooked up a huge pizza for all of us to share.
Compared with the pizza we got from Niche Niche, this was amazing (I think it was a coincidence that they had pizza at Niche Niche as well, it’s not an every night thing). I was so full though, I could only eat a few bites.
The drink menu here is very cool. Every drink (except the champagne I guess) has sake or some other Japanese ingredient. We weren’t really in a drinking mood, so I got a beer that lasted me most of the evening. I don’t want to sound like a broken record (ha pun intended), but the beer was excellent! Neither of us had ever had it before. It was called Stillwater Extra Dry from a brewery based out of Brooklyn. Neal had a beer from Japan.
We also had a cocktail a piece, each of which contained sake. Really great food and really great drink menu. We were so happy with this place, we will 100% be back.
As you can see, there are a LOT of courses. You get all these courses for $50 each. Then you pay per drink on the alcohol. Our bill with tip came to just over $200. For a birthday celebration (celebrating Neal’s!), this price was okay. But we really didn’t drink much and drank cheaper drinks, so I can see this price getting very high very quickly if you’re out having more. I personally thought this was worth every penny!
All-in-all, I think we liked this place more than Niche Niche, but they are both great! I highly recommend this as a cool NYC experience. It’s in a basement, it’s different, it’s special. Just make those reservations in advance!
We hope you enjoyed our story! It’s part of our A Day in the Life series where we chronicle our days and give folks an idea of what locals in NYC do to have fun. We’re always looking for new things to do and share!
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