"Chef Hiro Mitsui’s cafe—which recently moved from Shopkeepers Gallery and will temporarily land in Union Market’s Honeycomb Grocer in August—always surprises us with its Japanese comfort fare. Never tried omucurry? Neither had we, and we fell hard for the deeply satisfying omelet and rice smothered in yellow curry. Ditto for oyakodon, a dashi-soup-meets-rice bowl with poached chicken, scrambled egg, and dill. Okonomiyaki is exceptional—a crisp-edged vegetable pancake zigzagged with punchy house-made barbecue sauce and Kewpie mayo."
"My food is Japanese comfort food and I hope people like that. Some people who used to live in Japan are from this neighborhood. They talk to me and say, “Hey is your curry rice real?” I’m like “Yes, I was born in Japan. I’m from Japan. This is basically my mom’s recipe.” Hopefully I can be a really good corner store for them—a place where people can hang out and relax. That’s my goal."
"Conbini" is what the Japanese call convenience stores, but unlike in the U.S., even the most discerning food snob can make a meal from what's on the shelves. "At conbini in Japan you can go relaxed, you don't need to worry about make-up or changing clothes," Mitsui says. "You can wake up and go straight there for a milk tea and onigiri."
In a rear corner you’ll find Conbini, which is a Japanese term for a convenience store. There’s a single long table and a counter for seating. The menu is simple but can vary a bit by the day. When I stopped by on a recent Saturday the list included oyakodon (chicken, eggs, onions, dashi, soy sauce, and benishoga over white rice, $11), a vegan Japanese curry over rice to which you can add pork belly, chicken, extra veggies, or cheese ($10), and three varieties of okonomiyaki ($11-14), a savory pancake topped artfully with sauces.