On Friday, we noted that several readers had expressed concern over Sapporo East. The 30-year-old Japanese restaurant on East 10th Street and First Avenue has been closed the past week or so, and there isn't any sign noting a vacation or closure on the front door.
This past weekend, a very reliable source told us that Sapporo East has closed for good.
Meanwhile, in a double whammy, we understand that Shima, another sushi old-timer on Second Avenue at East 12th Street, has also closed.
Several readers noted this as well over the weekend; calls to the restaurant go unanswered. Shima opened on Waverly Place in the early 1980s, but was priced out by NYU… arriving at its current location in the late 1990s. Sapporo East and Shima share the same ownership. It's unclear if Shima will reopen in its current form.
In September 2012, Robert Sietsema at the Voice wrote about Sapporo East, which was the oldest existing Japanese restaurant in the East Village … opening in 1983.
And then along came Sapporo East. Even the facade looked jazzy and Japanese-y, and the interior, with its bobble-headed white waving cat — the first one we'd ever seen — set the standard for dozens of restaurants to follow. In fact, Sapporo East was an early harbinger of Little Tokyo, the city of young Japanese expats that lies within the East Village, and includes sake bars, grocery stores, pastry shops, hair salons, ramen parlors, sushi spots, and dozens of other institutions centering on 9th Street but spreading for blocks in several directions.
As Sapporo East has looked on and become something of the gray lady of neighborhood, the fantastically low prices have remained.