Online Exclusive - Neta, New YorkJul 5, 2012
By Ashleigh VanHouten
To achieve the clean, unobtrusive aesthetic of shibui, the designer incorporated little decoration save for thin wood shelves suspended from the ceiling and simple linen baffles over the counter recalling the iconic Japanese lantern. The color scheme consists of shades of white and gray with a contrasting thin red strip along the walls, made from the backsides of simple concrete panels to mimic juraku, or Japanese stucco walls. Charcoal gray granite floors act as a calm foil for the maple tabletops. “The central maple counter features ebony rectangles inlaid in a random pattern that was inspired by a Japanese bowl I found in Tokyo the morning of the great Tohoko earthquake,” Bloch explains, describing one of the central features of the small, 44-seat space.
“The existing restaurant was a near gut renovation,” Bloch adds. “We removed everything back to the brick walls with the exception of the existing hood and exhaust ducts…this component is often one of the most expensive single systems in a restaurant and budget constraints demanded that they remain. The design needed to accommodate the hood location, which determined the kitchen location.”
Ultimately, the almost extreme minimalism of Neta allows the color, drama, and sensation of Japanese cuisine shine through—a feel that is decidedly omakase, or chef’s choice (which comes highly recommended at Neta, by the way). Says Bloch, “The primary experience is between chef and guest across a simple counter, with as few interruptions as possible.”