Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban

The One Who Keeps the BookNew York

How to Get Into Konban, New York’s Favorite Spot for Japanese Katsu


Konban opened in Chelsea in December with the hype already built in. With locations in Seoul and hot off a successful pop-up at sushi restaurant Domodomo, there was already plenty of buzz surrounding the tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) specialist. So, when the restaurant finally opened, and when it went viral on TikTok, Konban took the city by storm and it’s been a challenge to get a table ever since.

In this edition of The One Who Keeps The Books, we sat down with the general manager Insoo Shin and head hostess Zazi Ebert to find out how you can get a seat, and finally get your hands on some of that perfectly crispy and juicy pork.

Resy: When do your reservations drop?

Zazi Ebert: 21 days in advance, at midnight.

And how quickly are you getting booked?

Insoo Shin: [We’re booked] right when reservations drop.

Are you saving any room for walk-ins?

Shin: No, but we can try to accommodate you if it’s possible.

How many seats do you have in the restaurant?

Shin: 60.

What You Need to Know

  • Plan Ahead
    Reservations drop 21 days out at midnight.
  • The Layout
    Konban has relatively close quarters, with just 60 seats total in the restaurant.
  • Walk On In
    Nothing is saved specifically for walk-ins, but if you do try to walk in, they’ll do their best to get you a table.
  • What to Order
    That katsu (duh) and the udon, plus any of the sakes or wines on the menu. For cocktails, try The Soul, with ginger and green tea.
  • Pro Tip
    Call or email if you don’t see any reservations on Resy. Also, while you're at it, request a table with a garden view, for prime photo ops.

What’s the busiest time of day and the busiest day of the week?

Shin: Normally, the weekends: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, between 5 and 6 p.m. Our Notify list can sometimes go up to 1,200 to 1,300 on a Saturday.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone who might be hoping to get a table?

Ebert: Call or email if you can’t find a reservation on Resy. We’ll always try to make a reservation for you if we can.

Photo by IDBD, courtesy of Konban
Photo by IDBD, courtesy of Konban

Insoo, why don’t you tell me a bit about your background? What led you to this role?

Shin: I was a sommelier in South Korea and I wanted to improve my English, so I moved to New York City for language school. New York is the best city for the hospitality industry. Then, I decided to visit a wine tasting in Napa Valley, Calif., and ended up studying winemaking. I knew that area was one of the best in the country. I worked at one of the most famous wineries, Kosta Browne in Sonoma County.

After that, I worked at The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant, which was a very good experience. But I really preferred something that was more upscale casual, and a lot more comfortable, where you get to be personable with the customer. So, that’s why I joined the team at Konban.

Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban
Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban

So, this isn’t your first experience with such high volume?

Shin: No, definitely not. I used to work at The French Laundry and then Turntable in [New York’s] K-Town. I also used to work at Monomono in the East Village. Those were super busy. Here, it’s really busy, too; I’m enjoying working in that environment again.

What are the must-order dishes on the menu?

Shin: I’d mostly order the katsu and the udon.

Spinach udon and sabazushi at Konban
Spinach udon and sabazushi. Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban
Menchi katsu at Konban
Menchi katsu with pickled cabbage. Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban

What about drinks, especially given your background in wine?

Shin: The sake is amazing, and people love the cocktail, The Soul, that’s made with soju, ginger, and green tea. The wine is definitely awesome, too.

Do you have a favorite table or favorite seat in the house?

Shin: We have a little courtyard garden, but you can’t sit outside. I recommend sitting by it, though. We have a lot of people asking to sit near the garden because they want to take a picture with the garden and the dishes. We can [accommodate those requests].

Desserts include yuzu coconut shaved sorbet and a corn ice cream. Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban
Desserts include yuzu coconut shaved sorbet and a corn ice cream. Photo by Laura Moss, courtesy of Konban

Can you describe what it’s like in the dining room on a Friday of Saturday during that really busy time?

Ebert: I feel like it’s pretty upbeat. We usually try to play more fun music to get into the vibe. It’s busy, and people are very close together in the restaurant just because of that busy-ness. One thing I’ve noticed is that people actually talk to each other at other tables. The restaurant itself is a little bit smaller, but I think that’s a great [result of that]: People talk to each other and are like “Oh, what did you get? What do I need to try?” Everyone just seems happy, and our service, even in the busiest time, is pretty fast despite the amount of orders we get in and what everyone’s doing.

Konban is open daily, with dinner service offered Monday through Thursday and both lunch and dinner service offered Friday through Sunday.

Ellie Plass is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram and X. Follow Resy, too.