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The popular Nai family of restaurants will soon be acquiring a brand new member.
Kobo By Nai is a brand new concept from Executive Chef and owner Ruben Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a self-taught chef from Galicia, earned critical acclaim in 2010 when he launched Nai, a tribute to his mother and the Galician cuisine he grew up surrounded by. Translating to “mother” in Gallego, Nai introduced New Yorkers to Rodriguez’s innovative a la carte menu as well as signature tasting menu. His second restaurant, Amigo By Nai, was, appropriately, a collaboration with one of his closest friends and Sous Chef, Rolando Flores. Established as a Modern Mexican restaurant, Ruben and Rolando endeavored to “explore the convivial mixture of both Mexican and Spanish fare”.
Most recently, Ruben launched Emilia By Nai, as a tribute to his grandmother, Ana Maria Gonzalez. Continuing his tradition of borrowing inspiration from friends and family, Ruben debuted Emilia as a minimalist farm-to-table restaurant and partnered up with the Coffee Project to establish a daytime cafe that paid homage to Ana Maria’s lifelong love of coffee. Now, it appears that Ruben is gearing up to launch his fourth project top date.
Ruben’s latest concept, dubbed Kobo By Nai, is currently planned to arrive at 202 Avenue A, in the East Village between 12th Street and 13th Street. The space was recently completely renovated, and previously housed a custom stereo shop before the renovations. According to Nai’s website, Kobo, which means “yeast” in Japanese, is described as a “contemporary pasta bar featuring Mediterranean fare.” While the signage has only recently been put up, East Village news site EV Grieve reports that Rodriguez hopes to have the new space operational by late Fall.
Rodriguez has also launched Kobo By Nai’s Instagram page, which you can follow here for further updates. While you wait, you can acquaint yourself with Ruben’s culinary vision by visiting any of his three restaurants currently operating today.