First Look at Kimoto, Downtown Brooklyn’s New Asian Rooftop Beer Garden
By Sarah Zorn
Shibuya Disco Fries all photos by Michael Telipan
It’s inexplicable that Downtown Brooklyn’s dining scene has stayed stagnant as long as it has, colonized as it is by office buildings and new condos, its occupants in desperate need of non-fast food options for a civilized 45-minute lunch, or sports bar alternatives for a decent after-work drink. It’s a hole that Kimoto—having recently taken over a nondescript lounge above Duffield Street’s Aloft hotel—is ready and willing to fill, reimagining their expansive indoor/outdoor space (including a winding, 2,400-square foot terrace with spectacular views) as Brooklyn’s very first Asian rooftop beer garden.
Instead of brats and soft pretzels, chef/partner Brian Tsao (also of Mira Sushi & Izakaya in the Flatiron District) serves Far East riffs on all-American bar bites, including spam sushi hot dogs topped with pineapple relish; disco fries gobbed with daikon radish chili and sriracha; gochujang-glazed chicken wings sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions; and bulgogi beef tacos crowned with kimchi slaw, which actually won Tsao bragging rights on a past episode of Beat Bobby Flay. They’re complimented by an extensive selection of craft beers from throughout Asia, that go well beyond your standard Sapporo and Tsingtao; including Lucky Buddha from China, Hite Pale Lager from South Korea, Lion Stout from Sri Lanka, and Echigo Red Rice from Japan (there’s also Jonas Bronck Thai Wheat from the Bronx, with hints of citrus, lemongrass and ginger).
Devised by head bartender Dave Danger—formerly of Jeffrey’s Grocery—cocktails duly highlight a variety of Asian spirits as well, from the easy-drinking daiquiri-inspired “Enlightenment,” made with green tea-infused Mizu Mugi Shochu, cantaloupe and kabosu, to the smoky, syrupy “Peat’s Dragon,” featuring Iwai Japanese whiskey, galangal honey, and togarashi yuzu. All in all, it’s a far cry from the Rolling Rock and well drinks dispensed at the vast majority of local bars (not to mention a sizeable cut above the food, at area mainstay’s like Subway and Au Bon Pain), and an overdue step in the right direction for the neighborhood’s many sequestered jurors and office workers, seeking much-needed solace in the bottom of a bottle at the end of a long day.