A new Japanese restaurant from the founder of Ginza of Tokyo is opening soon on the north side.
Bistro Honda at 1865 Northport Drive will be the latest restaurant from Aki Ishikawa, the Japanese-born owner of Karaoke Kid and Ramen Kid. He'd hoped to open Bistro Honda by late October, but construction delays have pushed that to just after Thanksgiving.
"Since we posted the 'Help Wanted' on the door, I get 10 calls a day asking when are you going to open," said Ishikawa. "The location is unique."
Bistro Honda will take the place of a coffee shop in Northside Town Center, which is also home to the Lakeview branch of the Madison Public Library and a Willy Street Co-op since fall 2016.
Ishikawa is working with chef Yoshi Zaki to develop the menu for Bistro Honda, which is named in honor of Izakaya Honda-Ya in California. The izakaya format favors small plates, but Ishikawa isn't convinced that Madison will go for it. He's making modifications.
"Over there I don’t think small dish(es) will hit," he said of the north side. "That’s not American people’s way of eating. I have to pick some (dishes) and make it into a main dish."
The Bistro Honda menu isn't yet set, but Ishikawa said it will have Japanese-style sushi ("we don't use marinades"), sweet and salty teriyaki, fried items and grilled fish.
He also plans to serve poke, though not exactly the same as what he had while living in Hawaii, which might have "too much roe" (fish eggs) for Wisconsin diners.
"It will be a typical vegetable and seaweed (poke) with a lot of protein, fresh tuna, fresh salmon," he said. "But we’re not going to carry other fresh raw items like squid and octopus."
Rib-eyes will be prepared "a Japanese way," marinated, grilled and sliced thin, designed to be eaten with chopsticks.
Bistro Honda will have about 40 to 45 seats. It has a liquor license, and Ishikawa said he currently plans to be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily, though that may change depending on customer base.
"When I opened Ginza, there was nothing, no Japanese restaurant," he said. "Now there’s a ton of Japanese restaurants. The izakaya type bistro has to have everything ... (but) what can people accept as their main dish? It's kind of confusing."