The Little One

Japanese dessert restaurant in a perfect bamboo box on an imperfect street in New York City's Chinatown

Nestled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a small Japanese Dessert restaurant glows like a lantern on an otherwise gloomy street. The tiny space was in a desolate state at the outset of the project, but was lined with millwork and transformed into a simple cozy box in which to enjoy the ever-changing sweet creations.

Project date


Project location

New York, NY


Project lead


Koko Architecture + Design

Primary responsibilities:

  • Survey existing conditions

  • Concept and design development (all phases)

  • Submit DOB application package and obtain permit 

  • Produce construction documents, review submittals and respond to RFI’s 

  • Conduct weekly site meetings, manage budget and schedule

'Hole in the wall'

The narrow width of the commercial unit is typical of New York mixed use buildings and there were layers of neglected, low-quality fit-outs to demo. Simply getting back to a 'clean' space was a project in itself, as such the design opted to line the space not simply with gypsum board, but with bamboo plywood throughout.


One material

A continuous bench creating both patron seating and storage stretch the length of the restaurant, with the same material creating a long indirect light. The panels then wrap the ceiling and meet the joints of the floor tiles creating a simple order to the space. 


Shadow sign

A shadow sign was designed be as minimal as possible on the facing wall, and have the ability to be 'turned off' and disappear  as easily as a light switch.