Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse: An Intimate, VIP Music and Culinary Venue Designed Exclusively For You.

There's something intriguing at the corner of 26th & Broadway. If you've passed by this corner in the past two or so years, you've probably noticed the big picture windows looking in on an alluring lounge with live music endlessly reverberating through the glass walls. What you're glimpsing is a taste of Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse, a chic, modern take on what could be a prohibition era music club, except there's definitely alcohol available here.

Pop/Rock/Hip-Hop Band "Hello Brooklyn" is Kinetic at Toshi's Living Room
Despite the large open windows, step inside Toshi's and you will instantly feel whisked away into an intimate, VIP music and culinary venue designed exclusively for you. Toshi's Living Room really aims to embody its name, as an inviting space where you can feel like family yet be treated like royalty. Although owner Toshi's venue is part of his larger, luxurious Flatiron Hotel, this is unlike any hotel bar you've ever experienced, and to even call it a "hotel bar" does it no justice. With eclectic live music nightly and a hip crowd that often includes proprietor Robert "Toshi" Chan himself, and his dog Ponzu, Toshi's Living Room has real character and soul, with just the right amount of kitsch, to strike at your heart.

Whatever musical stylings you prefer, Toshi's has a show for you, often two shows in one night, mixing genres such as rock, pop, jazz, funk, motown, soul, acoustic, indie, dance, hip-hop and anything else you can envision. Come for a jazz show such as modern jazz vocalist Melanie Marod, who can scat like she was born for it, and enjoy dinner while her mellow music compliments your meal. While the volume of an early evening jazz show is kept at a low enough level for patrons to carry on conversation, the performer still remains the focus of the room.

Dance the Night Away to Radiant Rock, Pop, Jazz and  Other Musical Stylings
Later in the evenings, find a radiant rock or pop band, such as Brooklyn-based cover band, Hello Brooklyn, whose lead singers, Liz Reagan and Ray Ramos blew me away at a recent Toshi's Living Room show with their talented versatility and their come hither ability to draw dancers to the aisles. Even Toshi couldn't escape the charisma, as I glimpsed him grooving in his seat. The vibrant and captivating female lead, Liz Regan, was cheeky yet magnetic as she fluently covered tunes from Amy Winehouse to Adele, Bon Jovi, and Sublime, and Rihanna to Cee Lo Green, Guns N' Roses and Daft Punk, while the breakout rap and rock genius of Ray Ramos, kept the band's set fresh and interesting. I was excited to learn that, beginning January 9, 2014, Hello Brooklyn will be playing a weekly Thursday night show at Toshi's Living Room.

Not surprisingly, music isn't the only reason to visit Toshi's. Come dine on the "Food of Love," imbibe some "Glasses of Happiness," or try the seasonal, rotating menu of cuisine and cocktails. Although there's never a cover for music, be prepared to pay premium prices for beverages, and rightly so for the exclusive experience and entertainment value at Toshi's. Try the Mango Tango, a rum based drink crafted with a hint of mint and a fruity infusion of mango and lime, or consider ordering some wine from "Toshi Vineyards" Private Reserve.

Hungry? To start, enjoy the tangy Avocado Mango Ceviche, made with baby shrimp, calamari, and avocado and mango of course, but also mixed with a special blend of jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, onion and cherry tomato to create a delightfully piquant array of flavors. Crouch close to your plate with Ninja Calamari, a spicy, crispy brown appetizer that's big enough for 2-4 people to share, though with a palatable Wasabi/Togarashi seasoning, and sweet contrasting plum sauce, you may want to keep it all to yourself. With more than ten "small plate" options including an assortment of appetizers, salad, and focaccia, you may just find that you'll fill up on these as I did. However, Toshi's menu also offers enticing entrees available for even the most discerning diner, including beef, seafood and vegetarian options.

The "Living Room" Crowd Enjoys an Evening Out at Toshi's 
A mention must also be made of the elegant yet tasteful decor, and the mesmerizing aquarium centered between Toshi's Living Room and the entrance to the Flatiron Hotel. The aquarium is accompanied by an informative iPad where patrons can click to find information on the beautiful fish in Toshi's tank. Find out more about the colorful and unusual marine life such as "Bubbles the Kole Yellow Eye Tang," "Ramona the Remora," or "Zeus the Henichus Black & White Butterfly Fish." Get a better view of these fish from the mezzanine, where you can sit and let the bands play on in the background below you, or use the restroom facilities which are located on this level. From the lobby, head all the way upstairs to Toshi's Penthouse and overlook the iconic skyline that defines New York City.

What's even more impressive is that despite little to no advertising, rather growing a fan base by only word of mouth, it is a rare night that leaves Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse with empty seats. You would be hard-pressed to guess that this is "Toshi" Chan's first venture into the hotel/restaurant business. Read more about how Toshi's legendary parties gained him notoriety in New York before he opened up the Flatiron Hotel and its corresponding "Penthouse" and "Living Room." Aside from his business and mixology experience, the bulk of his background is as an artist and actor, a trait that helps him select the best of the best when it comes to performers who grace his stage. Though Toshi at times scours the city looking for new talent, for the most part these days emerging talent finds him, and new acts are free to submit to an audition. Changing acts are always being added to the lineup so check the Event Calendar for the most up-to-date information on performances.

Toshi is a purveyor of arts not just in the entertainment scene, but as a philanthropist as well. His toshiNow Foundation aims to introduce the arts to the youngest of New Yorkers, with music and art lessons, and scholarship opportunities for "tots, tweens and tweens." Learn about the toshiNow Mission, and look out for a fundraising event in early 2014.

Speaking of 2014, if you haven't yet found a place to party this New Year's Eve, Toshi's New Year's Eve Gala is certain to be a night of festive revelry that you won't soon forget. Separate events will be taking place at the Living Room and the Penthouse, but both parties will include live music, a 6 hour open bar, appetizers and a midnight champagne toast. Early bird prices may still be in effect if you act quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Update: special coupon code for early bird New Year's Eve pricing: earlytoshi. While supplies last!