A dragon offers ancient riddles across from a sushi list. A cow cracks dad jokes next to the grilled skewers. A hero fights a smoke monster alongside the cocktails.
These are a few scenes from the menu comic book of Noyane (101 E. Erie St.), Richard Sandoval’s recently opened Japanese outdoor bar and restaurant on the 21st floor of the Conrad Hotel.
Why the uncommon approach to what is usually a simple list of food and drink prices? “Up here a piece of paper would blow away, so we were going to have to anchor the menu somehow,” says Greg Howe, vice president of licensing agreements with Richard Sandoval Restaurants. “We also wanted to add more fun to the experience.”
Channing Broderick led the Noyane team that spent five months working through 37 iterations of the story, taking inspiration from Master of Kung Fu and DC’s Richard Dragon, and enlisting artist Eric Wedum for illustrations and dialogue. The story includes mythological characters, such as Enenra the smoke monster, the dragon Fuku Riu, and the never-ending sake jug Kameosa. Our hero Konrad (along with his pet cow Wagayu) sets out to recover a stolen Kameosa. On the way, Konrad has to solve a riddle from the dragon, defeat the smoke monster, and face the villain Yamakazi (yes, as in the Japanese whiskey) in a final showdown.
Though the story sounds epic, it's meant to be a light read. “The menu is like a kid’s version of a Seinfeld episode,” says Howe. “There’s a lot there, though it’s about nothing. But it brings more life to a space that’s about just having fun.”
As for the food and drinks, executive chef Jordan Dominguez (Momotaro) will forgo bluefin tuna in favor of more sustainable choices such as yellowtail and big eye tuna, along with salmon, sea urchin, king crab, mackerel, and eel. Potstickers, steamed buns, grilled skewers, and hot stone wagyu plates round out most of the other food choices. Cocktails from fire and dry ice enthusiast Michael Fawthrop are offered in addition to sake, whiskey, beer, wine, and shochu.