DC’s Japanese-Italian Restaurant Is Getting in the Breakfast Game

Tonari will serve garlic bread onigiri, egg sandos, and fun coffee drinks

Tonari will have a full coffee bar—plus some fun Japanese-influenced drinks. Photograph by Vina Sananikone.

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Tonari. 707 6th St., NW.

Stay tuned for operating hours, which will likely be from 8 AM to 2 PM. 

Japanese-Italian restaurant Tonari is known for cross-culture mashups like miso clam tagliatelle and unagi pizza inspired by Japan’s “wafu” cuisine. Come early November, the Chinatown restaurant from Daikaya Group will be expanding into a daytime cafe with Japanese-style breakfast sandwiches and pastries and Italian-style onigiri.

Co-owners Daisuke Utagawa and chef Katsuya Fukushima say they envision the concept like the bars throughout Italy that operate as cafes during the day. “The thought behind it was to give people what they expect from going to a cafe,” Fukushima says—but with their own Japanese twist.

Tonari’s creme brûlée French toast. Photograph by Vina Sananikone.

Banana bread will be baked with miso butter, and croissants will be brushed with chocolate syrup and black sesame seeds, or possibly, nori syrup. (Some pastries will be more classic, and there will also be healthy grab-and-go basics like overnight-soaked oats and chia pudding.) On the more decadent end: a creme brûlée French toast with thick-cut brioche soaked in a creme brûlée mix overnight before it’s baked and caramelized.

Garlic bread-inspired onigiri stuffed with whipped butter, bread crumbs, and garlic. Photograph by Vina Sananikone.

Made-to-order onigiri—seaweed covered rice snacks—will come with fillings like lamb ragu and pecorino cheese or prosciutto and Kewpie mayo. A garlic bread-inspired version will be stuffed with whipped butter, confit and raw garlic, parsley, and bread crumbs.

Tuna salad sandwich on bread made with leftover pizza dough. Photograph by Vina Sananikone.

Lunchier offerings will include pizza bread tuna sandwiches and avocado toast with ponzu, seaweed, greens, and confit tomatoes. Croissant dough formed into a baguette shape will be the base for a tamago egg sando.

A tamago sandwich on a croissant baguette at Tonari. Photograph by Vina Sananikone.

The cafe will also have a full coffee bar with lattes and espressos, plus TikTok-viral whipped dalgona coffee and matcha drinks. There will also be some boozy coffees, like an Irish coffee with Japanese whiskey.

Fukushima is already working to perfect his latte art—with more offerings to come. “With Japanese culture, they like to do things properly first,” he says. “I’m a student of the whole coffee thing right now. I want to do everything right with the standard stuff and then grow from there.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.