Here Comes the Asian Gastropub

Want more small plates inspired by the flavors of Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam? So do we. Here, three newcomers (and one menu revamp) show us how it’s done.

asian small plates boston

Photograph by Toan Trinh

Find these creative Japanese plates (and libations) at the soon-to-open Hojoko:

a) King crab leg with torched momiji mayo, micro celery, and Meyer lemon zest.
b) Saiya Brewery’s Yuki No Bosha junmai ginjo sake.
c) Hojoko’s Tokyo Tea cocktail features tequila, long-leaf green tea, bittered Midori, and lemon.
d) A maki roll of robata-grilled shrimp, shiso salsa verde, and minced Meyer lemon.

Hojoko: “The idea of a rock ’n’ roll, high-energy Japanese izakaya in the Fenway neighborhood seemed like a natural fit,” says Nancy Cushman, co-owner with her husband, Tim Cushman, of this forthcoming spot in the Verb Hotel. Whereas the couple’s O Ya focuses on pricey sashimi and nigiri, Hojoko will serve creative maki rolls and robata-grilled meats in both the dining room and around the hotel’s retro-chic pool. Expected opening date: Imminent.

Banyan Bar + Refuge: The team from the Gallows has given the old Hamersley’s Bistro space a glam makeover, complete with green snakeskin banquettes, a lounge-style patio, and even a Kirin slushie machine. And they brought in the big guns to run the kitchen, with Phillip Tang, of the now-closed East by Northeast, creating an eclectic menu with Korean, Thai, Indian, Malaysian, and even Russian touches. Expected opening date: Imminent.

Tiger Mama: Ever since Tiffani Faison’s smoky ribs and fluffy biscuits arrived in the Fenway via Sweet Cheeks, gastronomes have been holding their breath for her next project. That time has come with Tiger Mama, which she’ll open with wife Kelly Walsh on the same block as Sweet Cheeks. The new spot will offer modern takes on the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, with a tiki bar in back. Expected opening date: Early fall.

Strip-T’s: This Watertown linchpin has gone through several incarnations since chef Tim Maslow took over the kitchen. The latest? An izakaya-themed menu, with laborious preparations of ramen, hearty donburi, and small plates like fried chicken with wasabi-yuzu Kewpie mayo. Expected opening date: Already up and running.