Chinatown will soon be home to a new Japanese-Italian style eatery called Kissa Tanto, an 80-seat restaurant located upstairs at 263 East Pender Street.
Many of you may be familiar with the nearby Bao Bei Brasserie, owned by Tannis Ling. Kissa Tanto is her new project and she has partnered with acclaimed executive chef Joel Watanabe and sous chef Alain Chow, to bring old-fashioned Japan to Vancouver. The name Kissa Tanto, or jazu kissa, refers to the vanishing 1960s jazz cafes found in Japan, while tanto is Italian for ‘much’ or ‘a lot.’ The reason behind this new restaurant is really to offer people a place where they can escape from the everyday to catch a glimpse of what it was like in the 50s and 60s – a time when it was okay to drink whisky and listen to jazz all night long. It is a space for celebration – even if there is no reason to celebrate – and a place to hang out and kill time.
Watanabe’s diverse French-Canadian/Italian and Japanese background can be seen in the menu at Kissa Tant. It is strongly influenced by Japanese and Italian flavours and focuses on ingredients such as fresh seafood, meat, and handmade pasta. Expect generous portions of chawanmushi – a savoury Japanese egg custard with saffron and parmesan on Koshihikari rice, plum-cured Coho salmon with lemon-pickled walnuts, arima sansho, and Tokyo leeks; and kasu-braised pork ragu on fresh tagliatelle.
While the kitchen is helmed by Watanabe and Chow, the cocktail and bar program will be led by Wendy McGuiness (Chambar, Royal Dinette) and will feature vintage classics such as Amaretto Sours, Singapore Slings and Irish Coffees. The wine list is comprised primarily of European selections and will of course, include some Japanese sake and spirits, and selections of local craft beer. One can expect everything to be as carefully crafted and delivered as at Bao Bei.
Kissa Tanto is located in the upper story of an old Chinatown building, which has been vacant for quite some time. The exterior design is of some glazed-terracotta tiling which still stands, while the interior has been totally revamped by local design firm Ste Marie, who also did Bao Bei (along with Ask for Luigi and Savio Volpe). The room will feature a long bar and pays homage to the jazu kissas and incorporates 60’s style Japanese elements with modernist design resemblant of the Hotel Okura Tokyo (which is to be demolished this year).
Opening date for Kissa Tanto is sometime in April and will be open for dinner five nights a week. For more information, visit their website: kissatanto.com.