Few would guess that this Japanese grocery store has passed through three generations of two different families — the Katagiri brothers, who gave the shop their name, and the Tanakas, who respected the founders’ wish not to rebrand the business. In fact, Katagiri professes to be the oldest Japanese grocery store in the United States. Though KC Central took over the business and expanded into imports and exports in 2012, this has not affected Katagiri’s role as a reliable source for anything from salmon roe and wagyu beef to packages of udon noodles. “There have basically been three owners throughout our century-long history, but what makes us special is that we have always remained the same. We sell everything from Japan; it is pretty simple, ” shared Masami Inoue, who manages the 59th Street location. “I am so grateful that we continue to survive and keep the tradition going. ”Another constant is the fishmonger, Eikichi Hara, who has trekked to 59th Street at 4 a. m. every day to cut the fish for over forty years. Originally from Niigata, Japan, Mr. Hara — fondly referred to as Chief or Hara-San — trained as a sushi chef before migrating to the U. S. as a teenager. His expert knife work makes him a treasured fixture at Katagiri. “He is a good representation of our old-world feel. Many customers come just to see his beautiful fish lined up in the store. ”
The delectable assortment of French pastries was only the beginning of the excitement for me when I first visited Eclair Bakery. Getting to observe and speak with owner Stephane Pourrez, as he was preparing pastries, macarons, croissants and, of course, a variety of eclairs made the experience very special. An alumnus of Ferrandi, the French School of Culinary Arts in Paris, Pourrez worked in New York for a year as a pastry chef before he fulfilled his "childhood dream" of opening his own bakery. No matter what time I chose to pop in, I always found others sipping on their cafe au lait, and mingling with fellow French natives.
At Coffee Project NY, coffee-themed cocktails and high-quality java brewed with a mixologist’s eye are the stars of the menu. The concept was created by co-owners and founders Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh in 2015, and has since expanded to having several other locations across the five boroughs. “We are very excited to be part of Hell’s Kitchen! ” Ngai said, adding, “In the opening of this new location we hope to create a community gathering space while sharing our passion for coffee with the neighborhood. ” “I’m a bit of a coffee snob and [Coffee Project] delivers on very good quality coffee, ” shared Paul David, a Hell’s Kitchen local. “I also really like the environment — the seating isn’t too crowded and it’s really peaceful. ”One of the shop’s innovative specialty beverages is its deconstructed late, which manager Jed Baxter said evokes a multi-sensory experience. In addition to deconstructed lates, Coffee Project offers classic lattes (complete with intricate latte art), classic pour-over brews, and teas. The cocktail menu includes drinks such as spiked Irish Coffee made with Teeling Whiskey and the brand’s own Teeling-blend beans. This story was adapted from the W42ST article, "Brew-tiful Transformation: Coffee Project Opens at Ikebana Zen with Day-to-Night Caffeinated Creations! ”