It's only fitting that Royal Sushi & Izakaya, one of the city's most anticipated restaurant openings of the past decade, came with no forewarning. The Japanese-style pub by pub-pros Stephen Simons and David Frank (Khyber Pass Pub, Triangle Tavern, the Cantinas) opened, to the surprise of many, on Saturday, September 24.
The project has had a long, strange journey since Simons and Frank first announced the location at 780 South 2nd Street back in April 2012. Back then, Todd Dae Kulper was intended to be the new concept's chef (at the time, ramen was all the rage, and Kulper's izakaya pop-up at Khyber Pass brought drew exceptionally long lines). By December of 2013, Kulper had left and they were looking for a new chef to head the project. Three years later, in March 2016, Frank and Simons announced their new chefs on board: father-and-son team Masaharu "Matt" Ito and Jesse Ito, the two behind Haddonfield's three-bell-earning contemporary Japanese restaurant and sushi bar Fuji.
Mum was the word after the announcement; no details were revealed, save for maybe Jesse teasing food-porn via his social media avenues. Then, quietly, without any notice, Royal Sushi & Izakaya opened over the weekend. Just like that.
The Itos' menus (below) include typical izakaya fare: grilled or pan-fried dishes called yakimono, kushiyaki and yakitori (meats-on-sticks), deep-fried goodies called agemono, plus sushi, sashimi, and maki. Drinks run the gamut: shochu, Japanese whisky, and an impressive 30-bottle-deep sake collection.
Check the menus out here, make your picks, and go in person every day from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The kitchen's open till 1 a.m. on the reg.