Kappo Sono dishes
Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono

The RundownNew York

All About Kappo Sono, Opening Soon Near Union Square

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Fans of veteran chef Chikara Sono, who made his name in New York with the (now-closed) Michelin-starred restaurant Kyo Ya, were disappointed when his diminutive kaiseki restaurant Kappo Sono quietly closed last year, leaving its counter in the back of the Lower East Side’s Brooklyn Ball Factory (BBF) empty. But after his three-month tenure running a pop-up at Hirohisa earlier this year, the chef is preparing to offer his kaiseki experience once again, now in a penthouse situated just below Union Square. We spoke with Sono and beverage director Leo Lê about the intimate new space and what diners can expect to find when the restaurant opens on July 5.

The Resy Rundown
Kappo Sono

  • Why We Like It
    Because this is a time-honored Japanese kaiseki from a local legend. Dining at chef Chikara Sono’s counter is a truly special experience you won’t want to miss.
  • Who It’s For
    Connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine, and anyone who wants to experience food as fine art. Since the kaiseki is a form of omakase where the chef carefully curates the menu for you, this one is for adventurous eaters willing to try whatever the chef creates.
  • How to Get In
    With only one seating of just 12 people per evening, all seats need to be reserved in advance. Reservations drop on Resy three weeks prior, so plan accordingly.
  • Pro Tip
    If you’re going to splurge on Kappo Sono’s kaiseki experience, you’ve got to try a drink pairing. The beverage program is as exciting and thoughtful as the food itself, and there’s even a non-alcoholic option.
Kappo Sono dish
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Chef Chikara Sono
Chef Chikara Sono. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono
Chef Chikara Sono
Chef Chikara Sono. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono

1. Expect small plates, and many courses.

Like the last iteration of Kappo Sono, the new restaurant will be an intimate kaiseki experience. Kaiseki, for those who don’t know, is a fixed-price, multi-course meal format from Japan that showcases the chef’s skills — a version of omakase, but more formalized and with a greater emphasis on seasonality. It’s a form of fine dining that makes use of several different cooking methods (grilling, steaming, frying, etc.) over the course of about 15 dishes, give or take. At Kappo Sono, the experience will go for $350 per guest (before tax).

Kaiseki is traditionally a very structured meal format, with specific kinds of food (soups, grilled fish, and sashimi, for example) in a particular order. Variety is built into kaiseki by its nature, but Sono takes it to the limit.

“My style has been to prepare a number of classic courses,” Sono says, “but this time, I will serve more courses with smaller portions.” Sono was tight-lipped about what sort of dishes those might be, but he did mention that, in a move that differs from typical kaiseki, he will be sourcing “a wide variety of ingredients … from all over the world.” Because kaiseki focuses on seasonality and freshness, it’s typically composed of local ingredients. These days, however, we’re living in the 21st century; thanks to modern shipping and transportation, a fish caught in Japan can be enjoyed by a diner in New York while still at the peak of its freshness. At the previous Kappo Sono location, dishes featured international ingredients like Alaskan king crab and Australian abalone. As far as what’s going to be on offer at the new Kappo Sono, we’ll just have to wait and see. The world really is chef Sono’s oyster.

One thing we do know: three of the 14 courses in the kaiseki meal will be desserts from Momoya Soho pastry chef Norie Uematsu. Save room accordingly.

Desserts from Momoya Soho's pastry chef Norie Uematsu
Desserts from Momoya Soho’s pastry chef Norie Uematsu are also included in the kaiseki meal. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono
Desserts from Momoya Soho's pastry chef Norie Uematsu
Desserts from Momoya Soho’s pastry chef Norie Uematsu are also included in the kaiseki meal. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono

2. Don’t sleep on the beverage pairings — whether or not you’re drinking alcohol.

This time around, the beverage program is helmed by Leo Lê, who’s brought a thoughtful approach to complementing Sono’s cuisine, featuring rare and exciting wines, sakes, and more. Perhaps best of all, guests have a choice between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage pairings (an additional $175 and $125 per guest, respectively), consisting of at least eight drinks each.

The alcoholic option features a variety of seasonal Japanese sakes and French wines, Lê tells Resy, “in an attempt to draw connections between the two beverage traditions.” The sake selection, he says, “focuses on highlighting, for our guests, the history of 20th-century and contemporary sake, contrasting old-school and new-school styles,” and will include sake made by brewers with whom the Kappo Sono team has close relationships. The wine program centers on smaller producers of Burgundy and Champagne, but excitingly, also includes wines by female winemaker Mie Ikeno — which happen to be some of the first Japanese wines available in the U.S. There will also be sake- and shochu-based cocktails, including the chef’s signature Lemon Chu-Hi, a citrusy shochu highball.

For the alcohol-free beverage pairing, guests can expect to enjoy tea as well as non-alcoholic cocktails, and dealcoholized wines from France. Both drink program options, Lê says, will make use of temperature as an element, unique glassware sourced by chef Sono himself, and, of course, will be tailored to best complement the food.

“These cocktails will be the perfect way to enjoy the cityscape light up on Kappo Sono’s balcony before heading to the counter for dinner,” Lê says.

The bar at Kappo Sono
The new Kappo Sono occupies a penthouse suite with its own private terrace. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono
The bar at Kappo Sono
The new Kappo Sono occupies a penthouse suite with its own private terrace. Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono

3. Getting a seat may not be easy.

The new Kappo Sono is slightly roomier than its predecessor, but not by much. It’s expanded from being able to accommodate 12 guests per seating, up from eight at the previous iteration. And while the Kappo Sono inside BBF was only open for two evenings a week, the new location will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, with just one seating per night. The seatings are at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays (though chef would prefer that guests arrive 15 minutes beforehand, if possible).

If you’ve been dying to get into chef Sono’s kaiseki experience, you have a better chance now than you did before, but you might still want to camp out on the restaurant’s Resy page — reservations drop three weeks in advance. If that doesn’t work out, get on their Resy Notify list for a chance to snag a spot.

Kappo Sono dish
Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono
Kappo Sono dish
Photo courtesy of Kappo Sono

4. It won’t be around forever.

Like several of Sono’s past ventures, the Kappo Sono counter in the penthouse on 13th Street isn’t meant to be a permanent fixture. It’s a limited engagement, currently planned to run through March of next year. So, if you’re hoping to snag a reservation, you might want to start trying sooner rather than later. There’s no telling when or where you’ll be able to find chef Sono’s cooking next.

 

Kappo Sono is open for 6:30 p.m. seatings Wednesdays through Saturdays, and at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays.


Ariana DiValentino is a writer, filmmaker, and actor based in Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok. Follow Resy, too.