NEW YORK—When Mihyun Han had the opportunity to realize her dream of opening a restaurant with her dear friend, top chef Yoshihiko Kousaka, she envisioned more than a place where people could find wonderful food. She wanted people to enter Kosaka and be surrounded by beauty.
The window displays at the 13th Street restaurant hold ceramic sake ware made by Japanese artisans. Every plate that food is served on, every bowl used, every sake cup was sourced by Han from artists she admires. Some are local artisans, and some are master craftsmen in Japan.
“A restaurant is not to just provide food,” Han said. “Even the plates, the sake ware, if they [the customers] can see something beautiful, it’s more of a treat.”
She also wanted the restaurant space to be a forum for sharing art and Japanese culture. Together with her friend EunYoung Sebazco, she added an art program.
Sebazco, an award-winning landscape architect, had lived in Japan for a decade and always felt very close to the traditional culture. When she moved to New York City, she quickly found herself embedded in the Japanese community. “It makes me feel at peace,” she said.
New Yorkers are curious, and she felt the art programs were a great way to share the culture.
Master artisans are periodically invited to the restaurant to provide demonstrations, give seminars, or hold workshops. Pastry chefs, calligraphers, ceramic artists, and painters are among those who have participated.
On Nov. 13, the restaurant held a series of workshops taught by master artisans from Kanazawa, Japan, a region known for its vibrant artisan community and the last home to some traditional Japanese art forms.
As a child, Han wanted to be a painter. And even then, she said, she was most interested in using beauty to connect things—be they ideas, people, or other forms of art.
So when she opened the restaurant, she asked her friends in the art and Japanese communities to connect her to artists who could share their work through her space. It’s a small, tight-knit community, so the idea came together beautifully, Han explained. And through the workshops and seminars, attendees felt like they were able to take a bit of beauty home with them.