Bohemian is a secret, exclusive (referral-only), East Village Japanese eatery hidden behind a butcher shop in NoHo between Bowery and Broadway and is the sister of a bar in the Nishiazabu district of Tokyo. The NoHo restaurant which feels more like your friend's apartment (coat hook stand included) is concealed behind a glass door at the end if a long hallway dubbed “Basquiat Road” because this building used to belong to Andy Warhol and later occupied by artist Jean Michel Basquiat's (the artist died in his loft at this address).
Completely putting aside the seemingly elitist vibe this restaurant carries, the food is beyond excellent and the atmosphere only enhances the experience. Underneath the members-only, referral-only, 7- tables only establishment, Bohemian is truly for and about food lovers and building community. It continues to be my favorite dining experience in New York for the last seven years.
For the food, think intensely marbled slabs of beef priced at $50 per pound, foie gras sushi, mini burgers with homemade pickles, and short rib sashimi.
In the restaurant, the view is scenic with a mini Zen garden built into the far wall to the left, a skylight in the center of the room that gives off Otsukimi vibes (the start of autumn in Japan which is celebrated with moon viewing and prayers for an abundant harvest), and a 7-seat bar. The atmosphere is quiet, accepting, and tranquil. Sometimes, a band or a one-man band will play the guitar and fill the room with music.
Throughout the night, you get so comfortable in your low sitting lounge-type chair that you can hardly tell when people come and go. I've stumbled out after three hours at Bohemian feeling somewhere between "everyone needs to experience this restaurant!" to "I hope to keep this all to myself forever." Not once out of my many, many times at Bohemian over the last seven years have I ever had an unsatisfactory experience.
Bohemian, under the bigger umbrella of PLAY EARTH.inc is an international lituation (a lit situation) running a Bohemian house in Montego Bay and in Bali, a restaurant in the middle of the sandhills in the Sahara Desert Opening in 2019!), a fully equipped motorhome ready for rent (pickup and drop) off in Los Angeles, California (for members-only), amongst other establishments.
PLAY EARTH . inc 's message:
We are a collective of people whose primary goals are to roam the Earth and befriend its inhabitants. We organize parties, live events, tours, seminars, publications, films and even disaster relief at our Bohemian ajito (a Japanese word with Russian roots for "secret base") around the world. We foster connections with people we love, in the places we love, doing what we love.
Trust me when I tell you that this restaurant is not about exclusivity but more the very same thing exclusivity creates, space, peace, and rich experience.
For Getting In
You’ll need a phone number or referral for admission. If you don’t know anyone, you can email Bohemian for an invitation.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: playearth.jp
HOURS: Daily, 6:00pm-midnight (you can call after 3pm)
NEARBY SUBWAY STOPS: B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.; 6 at Bleecker St.
PAYMENT METHODS: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, Cash