After three years in a NW 21st sub-basement space with no real kitchen, the Japanese/Korean-influenced izakaya Tanuki is moving out and moving up — into the NE MLK space that, until recently, housed Belly restaurant.
"Our lease is up [in Northwest]," Tanuki chef/owner Janis Martin exclusively tells Eater. "There's a large part of me that is having a great deal of trouble letting Nuki in all its in-your-face crapulence go. But much as we may want to I don't think fortune favors people who are too stubborn to move on when it is obviously time." The last day at Nuki NW will be Friday, May 27, featuring an a la carte and omakase happy hour from 4-6pm and omakase (chef's choice tasting menu) after 6pm. Due to OLCC red tape, Martin is unable to anticipate when the new location will open.
The current incarnation of Tanuki, which Martin refers to as a "jerry-rigged dog and pony show," opened in March 2008 and "was pretty much intended as an industry hangout where my friends and peers could eat and drink well on what they could afford," Martin says. The move to the 2,400-square-foot space that housed Belly (the restaurant shuttered on April 16 of this year) will expand Martin's set of equipment past a couple Target hot plates and a rice cooker — but Martin notes that though costs have increased, "few if any of my regulars have seen pay raises in the past two years. Whatever I do, keeping my prices down while serving a good product and paying my people well is key."
Despite the new larger space, Martin says that Tanuki's divey vibe — including the fact that yes, it's a bar, and yes, no kids are allowed — will remain unchanged. "We looking to hire a very small core group of people at first. I will still be the one cooking every night. As to other changes — aside from being bigger and able to produce food with real equipment I don't know that the people that like us want us to change. And since it isn't in my nature to lick the boot that chastens me I don't see the merit in changing my business for the people who don't like us. So yeah, same music, same entertainment, same service style and still those same pesky rules some people don't groove on. But what we do right I hope will be improved in every way by having better resources to work with."
· Tanuki [Official site]
· All Previous Tanuki Coverage [Eater PDX]
Image of Tanuki courtesy emptyhighway via Flickr