Naomi Pomeroy’s two Portland spots, Beast and Expatriate, remain temporarily closed, but soon, the celebrated local chef will expand outside the United States with a restaurant in Kyoto’s-first Ace Hotel later this year. The James Beard Award winner’s all-day restaurant, tweaking classic American steakhouse fare with Japanese ingredients and Pomeroy’s edge, will open alongside two other restaurants helmed by U.S.-based chefs, Philadelphia’s Marc Vetri and Los Angeles’s Wes Avila.
The yet-to-be-named restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the hotel’s third floor, with dishes like wagyu pastrami eggs Benedict and honey rooibos pavlova. Pomeroy will orchestrate the restaurant with her husband and business partner, Kyle Linden Webster, serving “a tribute to classic American fare.” However, Pomeroy’s version of “classic” will still involve the chef’s well-documented boundary pushing, working with Japanese ingredients and gussying up diner-and-steakhouse standbys. During the day, the menu will range from “classic American breakfast with extra-crispy hash browns and house-made sausage” to that upscale wagyu Benedict. Pomeroy says the restaurant “cuts a wide swath during the day, and is much more Beast-in-Japan at night.” For instance, the chef is working on a wagyu steak dish, served in a tamarind-black-garlic sauce. “It’s not dissimilar from a really refined tonkatsu sauce,” she says.
Pomeroy’s restaurant is, in certain ways, a culmination of her research into Japanese ingredients: She received a Toshiba Foundation grant to develop recipes incorporating Japanese ingredients and Western techniques. Traces of that work appeared on Beast menus, from a chawanmushi-style egg custard with smoked trout roe to Hokkaido scallop with Meyer lemon and scallion puree. On the menu at her Kyoto restaurant, she’s already been thinking through local sourcing within Japan: For instance, Pomeroy is working on a crab and avocado cocktail with a ramp thousand island, exploring the different ramp relatives in the area. Pomeroy found a compatriot in Motonobu “Moto” Nishimura, who is overseeing all three restaurants within the Kyoto Ace. “He really cares about local and seasonal ingredients,” Pomeroy says of Nishimura. “It was such a breath of fresh air.”
Webster, the cocktail mastermind behind Expatriate, will handle the beverage menu at the Kyoto outpost. Like the food, drinks will be similarly classic with a few back-pocket tricks, pulling inspiration from the ‘40s, as well as Japan’s multifaceted bar culture — “classics with little updates and flavor combinations that are interesting, but nothing fucking molecular,” Pomeroy says. “You know Kyle; he likes vinyl.”
The Ace is known for the upper-tier restaurants and bars in its hotels around the world, tracking down top talent and identifying rising stars. For instance, Best Girl, within the Ace Hotel Los Angeles, was featured within the 2019 California Michelin Guide, and the bar at Clyde Common, within the Ace Portland, has been one of the country’s most influential cocktail bars. The Ace Hotel Kyoto opens June 11, though Pomeroy and Webster’s restaurant will need a bit more time before it opens. On the 11th, however, the hotel will open the other two restaurants: Vetri, the Philadelphia-area restaurateur, will tackle an Italian restaurant with a rooftop bar, while Avila, the chef of Los Angeles’s Guerrilla Tacos, is unveiling a Mexican restaurant and bar on the hotel’s second floor.
Currently, the chef is still working with the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance, fighting to help restaurants survive the novel coronavirus pandemic. She’s also still tinkering with the right kind of permanent shift for Beast and Expatriate. “I’ve been doing the same thing for 12-and-a-half years, so I wanted to be reflective and open something intentionally,” she says. “I hate to be the last kid at the party on the revamp, but I’d rather like my cocktail dress when I get there. I’m willing to spend more time in the mirror.”
• Ace Hotel Kyoto [Official]
• Naomi Pomeroy to Head a Brand-New Restaurant at Ace Hotel Kyoto [PoMo]
• Guerrilla Tacos Chef Wes Avila Opens Mexican Restaurant in Kyoto, Japan Next Month [Eater LA]
• For His Next Italian Restaurant, Marc Vetri Heads to Japan [Eater Philly]