Nov 15, 2023 - Food and Drink

Scoop: Speakeasy-style dining room opening inside Menya with a 17-course omakase menu


Photo: McKenzie Rankin

Soon you’ll be able to walk into Menya Daruma in Elizabeth, past the noodle counter, through a discrete door in the back and into a dining room that’ll make you feel like you’ve traveled to Japan.

Kappo En is a speakeasy-style Japanese tasting menu restaurant by Menya’s owner Ted Nakato. It’s set to open Nov. 29, 2023.

  • “Kappo style dining in Japan features counter seating where the chef prepares each course directly in front of the guest and incorporates a variety of cooking techniques,” Nakato explains.

Why it matters: Menya, a Japanese noodle counter that opened at the beginning of 2023 in Elizabeth, quickly cemented itself as one of Charlotte’s best restaurants, touted by food lovers and local chefs alike.

How it works: A host will greet you inside Menya and walk you through the back into Kappo En, where you will be seated at a ten-seat counter inside an intimate, 500-square-foot dining room.

  • The chefs, Yoshi Ono and Yasu Tabita, will prepare your meal omakase-style. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that translates to “I‘ll leave it up to you.”
  • In all, you can expect about 17 to 18 courses. The seasonal menu will start with zensai dishes (small appetizers), then move to a 10-12 course Edomae sushi course, followed by cooked and grilled items and finished with dessert.

Drinks: You’ll have the option to add a sake or wine pairing with six to seven selections. Or, you can order sake and wine served by the glass and bottle.

Cost: The tasting menu starts at $185, and the sake and wine pairings start at $70.

The menu will feature seafood and Wagyu Beef sourced from Japan, as well as locally sourced produce. Photo: Peter Taylor

Zoom in: Kappo translates to “to cut and to cook” and refers to the different ways the dishes are prepared. The “En” character (縁) can be written in a couple of different ways and has a few different meanings in Japanese, according to Nakato.

  • Nakato explained that “” can mean relationship, fate, destiny and connection — the bond between two people or groups. He and the rest of the Kappo En team chose that symbol and name because of the connection the people have on his staff. “We’re all working together…and all of this is focused on our connection and relationship,” he said.
The courses will rotate about every two months according to Nakato. Photo: Peter Taylor

What’s next: To start, Kappo En will only have one dining experience available each night at 5:30pm and eventually will add a second reservation closer to 8pm.

  • Reservations are required and available now online.

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