Bao Bei Team To Open New Concept ‘Kissa Tanto’ On East Pender St. In Chinatown

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Tannis Ling, owner of the award-winning Bao Bei, is opening a new restaurant in Chinatown with her long time executive chef Joël Watanabe and sous chef Alain Chow.

The trio secured the second floor 2,200 sqft space at 263 East Pender St. back in February and have yet to start construction. Conceptually, however, they’re well on their way.

What they’re aiming for is an irreverent 75 seat hideaway with a 50s/60s feel to it, and instead of reprising the Shanghainese meets French concept that worked so well for them at Bao Bei, the food here will cleave to mostly Japanese and Italian traditions. That might sound a little odd, but the two cuisines have a lot in common when you think about it, everything from “mama” comforts and crudos to tatakis and noodles — not to mention the devotional fetishization of simplicity. “We’re always into doing something different,” Tannis says. “This opens up whole new avenues for us.” Service will be limited to dinner only, five nights a week.

The name? Kissa Tanto — “kissa” being an old Japanese word for “cafe” and “tanto” being the Italian word for “much” or “a lot”. Dig it.

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The bar, which is slated to be a long one at 16 seats, will focus on era standards like Singapore Slings and Amaretto Sours. “No crazy infusions,” Tannis insists. As for wine, they’re building a list of naturals and planning for a sake program. They’ve always rocked a top drawer bar at Bao Bei, so I don’t expect it’ll be much different at Kissa Tanto.

As for the space itself, it’s been commercially dormant for many years. The jade-glazed terracotta tiling on the exterior is pretty cool, but beyond that I’m in the dark (I’ve yet to see the inside). A proper description will have to wait until after they take possession, which will be at some point later this summer.  While they don’t have an exact date targeted for opening, they’re looking at early 2016.

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  1. Looking forward to this one! Anything Tannis does will be awesome. Chinatown is lucky to have her 🙂

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