Neighborhood Eats: Unique outdoor dining experience at Dr. Clark

At Dr. Clark, you have to take off your shoes, before you slide into your seating area, which is warm, despite being exposed to the elements.

Video Transcript

- In tonight's "Neighborhood Eats," it may be the biggest difference between men and women. You know, body temperature. Women in the studio, for instance, are always saying it's too cold.

- And some men are always saying it is just too warm. Well, one restaurant, a Japanese eatery in Chinatown called Dr. Clark, has come up with an interesting way to keep their customers warm. Because of a cold customer, well, certainly is not a happy customer.

- Apparently not. Here's Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: Restaurants are getting so creative when it comes to outdoor dining. And here in Chinatown, at Dr. Clark, you first take off your shoes before you slide into your cozy outdoor table.

YUDAI KANAYAMA: This is actually something that I've wanted to do since I came to this country 10 years ago.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: Yudai Kanayama grew up on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, where it's colder and snowier than New York City. And during the winter, this is how outdoor dining is done.

YUDAI KANAYAMA: The setup that we have here is called kotatsu table, which is basically a heater built in underneath the tabletop, with the blanket covering your feet.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: So ditch the boots and snuggle in.

- It's heated. The food is excellent, and you feel like you're in Japan.

- We're so warm with the blankets and the heated floor, so it's cozy.

- It's warm under the table, so that's cute.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: Your hands are cold, but your legs are warm.

- Hands are cold, but you know, the food is warm.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: The food is also traditional.

- This signature dish here, called Genghis Khan, is the style of barbecue. It's a lamb barbecue. We cook it on a table that also gives more warmth to the customer.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: There's a variety of hot pot options, udon noodles, sashimi layered over rice, addictive cabbage, and French fries with sea urchin.

- We had the salmon hot pot, the smoked yellowtail. It's a unique menu, and I would definitely come back.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: The restaurant is named for Dr. Clark, an American who helped Hokkaido prosper agriculturally in the late 1800s.

YUDAI KANAYAMA: If you ask anybody from Hokkaido who's your hero, they're going to say this name, Dr. Clark.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: Yudai opened right when the city locked down. When curbside dining started, Yudai offered outdoor karaoke, a nod to the former tenant, a legendary karaoke spot called Winnie's. But then he transitioned to the kotatsu tables, which have served him well.

YUDAI KANAYAMA: Being so flexible during this pandemic was really the key for me to be successful.

LAUREN GLASSBERG: You can eat inside Dr. Clark. That is a prix fixe menu experience. And if you want to eat outside at one of the tables, you'll need to reserve. And make sure to wear your best socks.