On the evidence of the growing number of Danny’s Chinese Kitchens, the brothers Antin clearly know what this island wants in Chinese-American takeout. Danny and David opened their first location in 2014 in Bellmore, their second in 2020 in Massapequa, a third in Oceanside the following year, and are on track to open a fourth, in Syosset, next month.
Danny’s Izakaya, which debuted last month in Oyster Bay, is a departure on multiple fronts. Not only is Danny’s expanding into the world of Japanese street food, as the name implies, but with a dining room that transcends the functional, featuring handsome black banquettes, moody red lighting over a tony bar, and walls lined with Edo-themed murals by Arlene McLoughlin, a Massapequa-based artist.
“It’s been really exciting to be welcomed into the neighborhood,” said Randy Klein, an attorney who caught the restaurant bug and joined the Antins as a business partner last year. “And the feedback has all been positive on Charley’s cooking as well.”
That would be chef Charley Moi, a Texas native who headed north nine years ago. “My background was in Chinese and barbecue when I moved here,” he said, and for a while Moi worked the kitchen at Queens Bully, a barbecue gastropub in the borough. He cut his Japanese teeth at Ponyboy, a Brooklyn club that regularly hosts omakase-style private events, before auditioning for the Danny’s gig last year.
“They asked me to make ramen, and I was like, ‘it’s in my wheelhouse, but you guys do know that it will take me 30 hours to put together, right?’” Sure, they said, turning him loose in one of their Danny’s Chinese Kitchens. “So I was making ramen in a wok.”
The final menu would ultimately feature ramen in three varieties ($16-$20), but it’s in the small plates and juicy Japanese meat skewers (yakitori) that Danny’s Izakaya most distinguishes itself. Moi’s takoyaki — breaded and fried octopus balls — are appropriately irresistible ($13), as is his Tuna Tower, which, while more cake than tower, comprises glistening pink morsels of tuna, lump crab meat, tiny pellets of translucent masago and tobiko, and drizzles of caramel unagi sauce ($24). Steak skewers ($22 for 3) are lean, well-seasoned and well-fired, and a chicken katsudon — a panko-coated fried chicken breast over a deep bowl of sushi rice — is executed with confidence ($23).
It’s an important experiment for its proprietors, this izakaya, and an important one too for downtown Oyster Bay, part of its ongoing efforts to become a true destination for dining.
Danny’s Izakaya is at 94 South St. in Oyster Bay, 516-786-3400, dannysizakaya.com. Opening hours are Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Monday.