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Kyiv Gets Its First Traditional Izakaya

Housed in a former arms production factory, the restaurant blends industrial architecture with contemporary style.

By Rachel Gallaher

Photographed by Andrii Sharpenkov

As published in GRAY magazine No. 62

A leather-upholstered booth against a brick wall in a restaurant.

Designed by Kyiv-based Yodezeen Studio, Virgin Izakaya is located in a historic armament factory.

Built in the mid-18th century, Kyiv’s Arsenal Factory—a former production facility for the Imperial Russian Army—has evolved into a creative, multibuilding hub that houses restaurants, coworking spaces, and an art gallery. One of the eateries, Virgin Izakaya, is the first traditional izakaya bar in Ukraine. Designed by local firm Yodezeen Studio, the interiors retain the armament factory’s stark industrial architecture (bare brick walls, vaulted ceilings), which is softened by furniture and decorative details that reference Japanese culture.

A restaurant bathroom featuring a row stone sinks on upended logs. Large round mirrors hang over each sink.

The bathrooms are framed by a free-standing metal-mesh structure in the shape of a Japanese shrine.

“We wanted the elements of Japanese style not to be flashy, but to be read by the restaurant’s guests in certain design solutions,” says Artem Zverev, cofounder and lead architect at Yodezeen. Embracing the concept of a traditional izakaya—a casual place to grab a drink and snacks, sit back, and relax with friends—Yodezeen installed a variety of low seating options, including a long, upholstered bench spanning one wall, leather- and fabric- upholstered chairs, and a long bar, built around the open kitchen, that gives diners a front-row view to the heart of the restaurant. A mix of materials including natural wood, copper, and leather exudes a relaxed sense of luxury.

The bathrooms, which feature rows of stone sinks positioned atop large wood stumps, are framed by a free-standing metal-mesh structure in the shape of a Japanese shrine. The screens’ rusty red tone provides a dramatic contrast to the dining room’s subdued palette of neutral finishes— and a nod to the Japanese culture’s reverence for the color red.

A central bar serves as a social hub at Virgin Izakaya.


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