Just prior to the weekend I paid a visit to the construction site of Usagi, a new Japanese wagashiya-style cafe and retail store at 3720 Oak Street. Formerly home to Goma Sushi, the 400 square foot spot (with just six seats) will serve house made rice ball lunch sets and mochi five days a week.
It’s coming to us later this month from Moeno Kawai, who you might recognise as the daughter of Miju and Hiroshi Kawai, the charming couple behind the much-missed Basho Cafe on East Hastings. Moeno is also the sister of Shika Provisions and Kuma Tofino co-founder Mitsumi Kawai, so you could say that hospitality runs in the family. So does good taste — I don’t think I’ve ever known a family with more interesting and entirely individual styles. Seriously, from clothes to crockery, the Kawais could teach a masterclass in taste.
The six seater will have just three small tables, their round cherry wood tops made by Jay Miron, who also did the retail shelving unit that dominates the main wall (holding beautiful ceramics, handmade crafts by Miju, teas, textiles, vintage finds, etc.). Everything is being made by hand, including the gorgeous, crocheted table bases (see gallery below).
What’s in a name? Usagi translates from the Japanese as “rabbit”. The branding – by Moeno of course – sees a rabbit curled in the circle of the moon (tsuki no usagi) — a visual riff on a Japanese tradition. It’s pretty adorable, actually.
Hours are being set at 10am to 4pm, Wed through Friday, and 11am to 4pm on weekends. They still have a lot of work to do before it’s finished, but go ahead and take a closer look inside…