One of the Upper East Side’s favorite izakayas is currently getting ready to bring its popular concept downtown.
Izakaya Toribar is a popular izakaya and yakitori restaurant that has been established on the Upper East Side since January of 2020. For those of you not in the know, an izakaya is a traditional Japanese-style bar, and yakitori is a type of Japanese barbecue that is traditionally served on a skewer. The restaurant was founded by Sung Jin Ahn and has been operating successfully at 164 East 56th Street, despite the challenges incurred by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The name is derived from a fusion of the Japanese word “Tori”, and “Bar”, representing a perch in which in birds can rest. In Japanese cultural tradition, the “Torii Gate” represented the gate to the sacred world, and the birds that perched atop the gate were said to keep the evil spirits out of the divine realms. Toribar was founded to cultivate that same sense of mystique, to be a place where customers can enter and leave their earthly burdens behind them and find good luck and companionship among friends at the bar.
As a restaurant founded in early 2020, the past two years have not been easy for Toribar, but Sung Jin has successfully navigated the stormy waters of the pandemic and is now ready to continue his plans for expansion. The next iteration of Toribar will be opening up on the Lower East Side at 178 Stanton Street, between Attorney and Clinton Streets. The space was formerly home to Stanton Street Kitchen, a traditional American restaurant and bar with a special emphasis on beer.
The location is expected to seat about 60 guests at one time, and will serve an identical menu to the Toribar that can be found on the Upper East Side. According to Sung Jin, the team is still quite a ways off from opening the new space, and he is hoping to have the location operational by February 2023. He is currently meeting with the local community board to acquire the necessary liquor license for the space, and is proposing operating hours of 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday through Friday, and 5:00 PM – 3:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday. While you wait, you can check out the original Toribar on the Upper East Side, and you can also follow the restaurant on Instragram for regular updates on their expansion.