Chefs Explain Why the Izakaya Food and Vibe Works in Their Restaurants

Chad Schlegel

It’s funny how many people walk in here thinking we’re a Japanese restaurant,” says John McCarthy about Oka, his Manhattan gastropub.

You can hardly blame them, given Oka’s minimalist light-wood dining room, the glowing Asahi Super Dry beer tap behind the bar and the small plates menu with ingredients like maitake mushrooms and salmon roe. In fact, Oka has many of the outward markings...