Japanese concept Izumi will open inside Takashima Records early next year

Hip Manchester strip The Grove will see yet another new restaurant in 2020. Situated between Chao Baan and an upcoming Seoul Taco in the new Chroma building, one new concept will house another when Japanese eatery Izumi will open inside Takashima Records at 4041 Chouteau Ave.      

Kurt Bellon, a member of the Global Foods Group and the current Chao Baan general manager, is spearheading the restaurant. 

“The past six months of Chao Baan opened my eyes to the direction St. Louis is going in," Bellon said. "There’s a lot more demand for authentic food of all different types. Having an authentic Japanese restaurant is something I’ve been yearning for."

Bellon said the concept is inspired by an izakaya, a casual Japanese bar that serves drinks and small plates. He hopes to bring lesser-known Japanese dishes to the St. Louis food scene that pair well with the sake and whiskey-heavy bar at Takashima Records.

“I wanted to expand off of sushi and ramen,” Bellon said. “One thing I’m introducing to St. Louis is onigiri. They have a personal connection for me, and when my mother would make lunch, there would always be an onigiri.” These rice balls are stuffed with fillings like ume (pickled plum) or fish and often wrapped in seaweed.

People can also expect sashimi, sashimi bowls and poke bowls. “Poke isn’t super authentic [to Japanese cuisine], but it fits with the island vibes built into Takashima’s concept,” he said.

Eventually, Bellon wants Izumi to have a grab-and-go element inspired by konbini, Japanese convenience stores that offer prepared food. “Onigiri is a pretty big convenience staple in itself,” Bellon said. “Oftentimes in konbinis, they have an array of fried foods. There’s a lot to dive into there.”

Bellon anticipates about six booths enclosed in shipping containers for the dining space with a second-floor lounge containing a balcony with couches. He predicts the restaurant will be open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 

Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.