Sake is on the house in an Osaka restaurant by Glamorous Co.
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Murata Mitsui's street presence is designed to attract the young executives who dine in the Kitashinchi district, Osaka's equivalent of the Ginza. Renovated by Yasumichi Morita and his team at Glamorous Co., the restaurant's one-story wood building might literally have been overshadowed by the mid-rise towers it stands between, were it not for the dramatic façade finished in white stucco. This conventional material reflects the colors of the day, from white in the morning to orange at noon and electric blue at dusk, when spotlights mounted at the roofline amplify the effect. Ceramic charcoal-gray roof tiles jut out of the vertical plane as ornament, their thin horizontal profiles animating the surface and giving a sense of depth.
The idea of a plane as dimensional design element plays out further inside the 2,700-sq.-ft., 36-seat main dining room, where 3,500 sake measures cover two walls. These square cypress containers 3 5/16 inches across are applied, with staples and adhesive, to the underlying plywood in rows as rhythmic as the ceramic tiles on the façade. (Because much of the original project budget went to unforeseen structural repairs, a Japanese sake producer was invited to "sponsor" the measures to make up the shortfall.)
More conventional materials and forms characterize a separate, 15-seat dining room for private parties. Here, tatami mats cover seating platforms, and frosted white plastic sheets are backlit to produce a feeling of warmth. In either part of Murata Mitsui, though, the cuisine is identical: Japanese comfort food like the patrons' mothers might make at home.