Risen Rose: Sushi with karaoke on the side
Like its Japanese eponym, who taunted U.S. soldiers in the Pacific during WW II with her infamous radio broadcasts, Tokyo Rose, the restaurant, has been taunting sushi lovers in Charlottesville for months with rumors of its re-opening. Of course, we're sure the new owners weren't spreading propaganda, but sushi lovers still want to know: when will Tokyo Rose be back?
Get ready to karaoke! Dish has learned that the new owners of Tokyo Rose plan to re-open the beloved sushi joint December 20. Unfortunately, the new Rose won't be hosting the Goth and alternative music scene of the former incarnation, but they have installed a karaoke space downstairs, complete with new video screen and stereo system. Interim Rose spokesperson Misty Goode said that while there will probably be no live music, there's still room downstairs for dancing and, of course, lip-syncing your favorite pop tunes.
Still, the renovations are impressive. In addition to the new bar and karaoke room downstairs, and new tiles on the floor, the old upstairs bar has been transformed into a large wood and glass sushi bar.
In the old sushi bar spot, the owners have installed a private VIP room and glass display case with flowers and a shimmering red kimono. As far as Dish could tell, the owners have spared no expense in up-scaling the Rose, including a luxurious ladies room and a gleaming new kitchen.
According to Goode, the new owners expected to be open this week, but Goode has grown conservative after a few delays– hence the December 20 prediction. Asked her role at the Rose, Goode laughs and says, "I speak English."
Apparently the new owners– who also own Soho near Dürty Nelly's– are as authentically Japanese as we hope their sushi will be. For late-night karaoke fun, the new Rose will be open 'til 2am on Saturday and all others days until 11pm.
KIKI LIGHTS UP 5th STREET
"Don't go breaking my heart/I couldn't if I tried..."
Sorry, but Dish can't help thinking about Kiki Dee's duet with Elton John every time we think about the new place on 5th street, Kiki Café and Bar.
Of course, there's nothing '70s about Kiki. The cool lime green design suggests something more modern, complete with shimmering steel-colored bar and a flat-screen plasma television. (Incidentally, the space was designed by co-owner Jeanie Brown's architect husband, Mike Stoneking.)
Maybe it's just the lyrics. In early November, Kiki told us they'd be opening after Thanksgiving. Come mid-December, it had begun to feel like a gentle brush-off: "Yeah, I'd love to get together with you. Maybe next week sometime. We'll talk."
Heartbroken, Dish knocked on Kiki's door to get some answers.
"We've just been trying to work the kinks out," says battle-weary co-owner Michael Fitzgerald from behind the bar.
"We opened for a test run last night, and it was a little wild." Fitzgerald can be forgiven his shell shock at opening the new business. Asked if he's had any previous experience running a restaurant, he says, "Well, I used to own a kite shop."
In the end, Kiki didn't go break Dish's heart. In fact, the small but stylish venue had another test run on December 10 and is planning a grand opening for December 15. In addition to Fitzgerald's self-proclaimed "best in town" mojito, the menu offers fresh paninis, clams casino, salads with pork loin and London broil, and fresh guacamole.
Kiki is also stepping up to plate as a late-night venue. They'll be open 11am-3pm during the day, then 5pm-2am at night. We've been waiting for a place to liven up that forgotten corner of 5th street near the C&O on Water Street, and it looks like Kiki Café and Bar might be just the ticket.
The Rose's new karaoke room
The old bar becomes a sushi bar.
The old sushi bar becomes the VIP room.
PHOTOS BY DAVE MCNAIR