A veteran of Boston restaurants is bringing a taste of his hometown to the local dining scene. Kamakura, named for chef Youji Iwakura’s native coastal Japanese town, opens in the Financial District next week with elevated but traditional Japanese cuisine, wines and sake, and a rooftop lounge with views the Custom House.
Iwakura has dreamt of owning a restaurant since childhood, he says, and has had Kamakura in the works since 2016. The menu centers on seasonal, set tasting menus called kaiseki, a style of dining that originated in Kamakura; but it will also offer modern, Japanese bistro dishes a la carte, sushi omakase (chef-selected tasting menu), and lunchtime bento boxes.
The chef was most recently the ramen master of Davis Square’s Snappy Ramen (which is now called Snappy Kitchen). After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Iwakura spent eight years as sushi chef of the now-closed Brookline stalwart, Ginza; then joined Ken Oringer at the original Uni Sashimi Bar, helping it earn a Best of Boston award in 2005, and ultimately becoming chef de cuisine there. Iwakura was the opening executive chef at Basho Japanese Brasserie, and also has front-of-house experience, including as sake sommelier at the South End’s now-closed Yakitori Zai.
The chef-owner believes Kamakura is the first Boston restaurant to carry Koshu wines from the Japanese region of Yamanashi. It has a full bar, plus an extensive sake list with Bushido on draft. Early next year, afternoon tea service begins with Japanese matcha, plus sweets and savory snacks by pastry chef Keiko Iwakura.
Kamakura spans three stories on State Street. The first two levels seat just more than 50 total, including at Iwakura’s kaiseki bar on the ground level. The top floor is a casual bar and lounge called Kumo—the Japanese word for “clouds”—which has 26 seats of its own and a 400-square foot, retractable roof from which the iconic tower of the Custom House, Boston’s first skyscraper, is visible. When Matcha Tea Time begins next year, it will happen at Kumo.
Kamakura opens Tuesday, Nov. 13, for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with dinner service starting on Thursday, Nov. 15. Going forward, it serves lunch weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and dinner Monday-Saturday from 5-10 p.m., with kaiseki tasting menu seatings at 5:30 and 8 p.m. Additionally, Kumo is open Monday-Saturday for late-night snacks and drinks from 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch, daily mid-afternoon tea, and Sunday supper service will begin in January 2019.
Take a look inside Kamakura and Kumo before it opens next week.
150 State St., Boston, 617-377-4588, kamakuraboston.com.
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