Here comes the Rain again: a peek inside Guy and Michael Rubino’s Ame

Here comes the Rain again: a peek inside Guy and Michael Rubino’s Ame

Guy Rubino mans the grill at Ame, the restaurant he and his brother, Michael, have opened in collaboration with Charles Khabouth (All photos by Davida Aronovitch)

After over six months of renovations and about two months of delay, Guy and Michael Rubino’s Rain has been reborn as Ame (Japanese for, what else, “rain”). The brothers are known for frequent reinvention (Zoom, Luce and the reality series Made to Order), and for this latest transformation, they have teamed up with the club mogul Charles Khabouth. Ame presents the chic Japanese aspects of Rain’s Asian fusion and swaps the former restaurant’s special-occasion appeal for a casual vibe.

The interior of Ame is by Khabouth’s go-to designers, Munge Leung (Ultra, Guvernment); the one-room open concept has been transformed into a seductive labyrinth of spaces. An inviting lounge of chunky low-rise furniture is flanked by a sexy backlit bar. The sashimi counter wraps around the traditional coal-burning robata grill—Guy’s culinary cornerstone, on which the Iron Chef sears Australian wagyu flatiron and strip loin steak, cut to order. The adjacent dining area is splintered into tidy nooks; a private room beckons recluses and TIFF types. The full menu is available in all spaces, to entice barflies and foodies alike.

Ame completes Rain’s 10-year progression toward pure Japanese cuisine. The expanded modern menu pairs authentic ingredients with Guy Rubino’s whimsical touches. Candied rice accompanies sashimi dishes as garnish, and the house line of caviar comes in such unexpected flavours as coconut, ginger, apple, white soy and tamari. “I’m not proposing to be a Hashimoto or a Kaji,” says Rubino of his style. “I’m using my own interpretations.”

The mixed-bag atmosphere inherits midnight snacking from Khabouth’s nightlife know-how, with hours that push the city’s early-dinner rituals. “We’re taking the bar seriously,” says Michael. Mixologist Moses McIntee (School Bakery and Café, Nota Bene) serves up a no-nonsense cocktail program with fresh, seasonal ingredients and Asian flair. Complex mixes drink like meal replacements and cost about $10 each. The Shogun puts a punch-packing twist on the classic caesar, with kyuri, dill-infused soju, bacon-infused gin, tomato juice, shiso, pickled burdock, quail egg and wasabi. Its bar chef swagger could make Ame a drinker’s destination, but architectural cocktails aren’t likely to dethrone Guy’s MOMA-worthy dishes.

Here, our slide show tour of Ame:

Ame, 19 Mercer St. (at John St.),