chef nick bognar at nippon tei in ballwin photo by greg rannells

Nippon Tei will move from West St. Louis County to the Hill this fall, change its name to Sado

Big changes are in store later this year for popular sushi and Japanese restaurant Nippon Tei, as it’s set to move to 5201 Shaw Ave., formerly the home of Giovanni’s On The Hill, this fall. As the restaurant leaves its current location at 14025 Manchester Road in Ballwin, it will change its name to Sado, which means “tea ceremony” in Japanese. “We wanted something with bigger facilities and a bigger kitchen to be able to do more stuff in the back, and to develop our dry aging program and our badass fish butchery,” said co-owner Nick Bognar, who also owns Indo (1641D Tower Grove Ave.). “We wanted to do something close to Indo so we could have that cohesiveness between those locations.” Bognar added that part of the reason for the move is that the lease is ending; he said he isn’t sure what will happen to Nippon Tei’s neighbor concept Ramen Tei in the future, but that it will close when Nippon Tei does.

Fans of Nippon Tei’s robust sushi program need not fret – Bognar promises more of the same. “I would definitely expect some tweaks to the sushi program, but we don’t want to get too far from what everybody loves,” he explained. “You’re going to have all the mainstays people love Nippon Tei for. You can think of it as an Indo-amount selection of fish, as well as dry-aged beef and wagyu beef.” He said that one new addition to the concept will be an “authentic, old school Japanese charcoal grill.”

As for the beverage program, Bognar said that Kira Webster will oversee Sado as the beverage director of the whole company, and that they’ll be adding some “cool names” to their bartending team. “I’d love to see some really amazing cocktails coming out. She’s obviously a genius with that stuff,” he said. Bognar added that the wine selection in particular will evolve, as Sado will have a wine cellar and a full bar.

Once Sado gets off the ground, Bognar foresees minor changes to the award-winning Indo as well. “I think Indo will start to focus up a little bit. We offer a lot of stuff at Indo, and I can see that coming down a little bit, in a cool way.” To him, this means offering more innovative cuisine without increasing the size of the menu. “Indo’s our creative spearhead, and Sado has more of our mainstays and can handle more volume.”

Some may find it odd that the successful Nippon Tei will move from the county to the Italian neighborhood of the Hill. Bognar is highly aware that Sado will be a bit of a departure for the area. “The Hill’s always been known for its food, and we want to add to that. I know it’s not the most normal restaurant for the Hill, but we’re looking forward to joining the fine dining culture there,” he said. “We’re excited to bring more to the area. It’s going to be great.”