We called up Yasuhiro Makoshi, the manager of Restaurant Nippon in Midtown, to find out which players had been dining at the 46-year-old restaurant, one of the first to serve sushi in America, during the Open. The Nippon, due to its proximity to many of the players’ hotels and its owner’s passion for the game, has become the Rick’s Cafe Americain of the tournament.
Ivan Ljubicic, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the first round, told a French Open interviewer in May that it’s one of his favorite restaurants in the world: “The owner loves tennis and always gives us special discounts so that loads of players go there [laughs]! He’s a really great guy and always comes to support me in the U.S. Open.”
Coincidentally, Djokovic himself is also one of the Nippon’s biggest fans, even touting it in a Tennis Channel promo about places to go in New York. He was there last week, said Mr. Makoshi. Also Andy Murray (lost today), Svetlana Kuznetzova (lost yesterday), Elena Dementieva (lost to Oudin), and Victoria Azarenka (lost in round three). Maybe the Nippon is having a Piven-esque effect on some of the players, though Djokovic seems to be doing just fine.
Mr. Makoshi told us that sushi was naturally the most popular order, though Dementieva liked the beef salad. The restaurant’s web site also includes an unusual tribute to Michael Jackson, who apparently once sang a Japanese children’s song to the owners.