At first glance, it might be easy to dismiss Bessou as just another cute Japanese restaurant. The brunch menu reads like the whimsical thoughts of a young schoolgirl with visions of Seuss and sugarplums in her head, whipping up concoctions like a green eggs and chaashuu sandwich or a matcha black sesame babka. It all sounds very fun, but maybe not all that substantial, like reading your way through the pages of a lightweight gossip mag. Highly instagrammable, but highly edible? I was a little skeptical.
As soon as I ate the dan dan udon noodles, I immediately felt terrible about underestimating Bessou. I couldn’t believe how good these noodles were. They were soft, silky and delicate, more linguini than udon, and they were in a thickish, spicy broth that coated the noodles in the manner of a tsukumen dipping sauce. They’re hard to describe, as fusion dishes wont to be, but they’re easily my favorite bowl of spicy noodles in the city.
These revelations were common throughout our meal. You might roll your eyes at the cultural mashup of a kabocha shakshuka, but then you notice how fragrant, thick and curry-like the wonderful sauce is. Maybe the matcha black sesame babka tastes more like a nutty cinnamon roll than a babka, but it’s a delicious one at that. The most straightforward item on the menu is the Japanese breakfast set, which features a market fish, pickled vegetables, miso soup and rice. It’s a very respectable nod to tradition, but what really gets you talking are the more creative collaborations. Fusion cuisine can be tricky, but Bessou gets it done right, so well in fact that the hybrids become their own frame of reference. You’ll crave those dan dan udon noodles specifically, and not the respective underlying parts.
5 Bleecker St (between Bowery and Lafayette St)
New York, NY 10012