O-Ku Burning Scallop Nigiri – The GW Ax
Media credit: Meghan O’Neil | Staff photographer
Savor updated versions of traditional Japanese dishes in a contemporary environment at O’Ku in NoMA.
For freshly made sushi served in a trendy setting, travel to NoMa for a bite to eat at O-Ku, a restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine.
The first thing diners notice when they walk through the doors of 1274 5th St. NE is the windowless oak wood door that greets guests into the restaurant’s tucked-away sushi bar. True to its name, which translates to “oak” in Japanese, O-Ku’s decor is subtly woven with images of oak, from the front door to the restaurant’s black slate walls edged with cutouts of oak leaves. oak and illuminated with a soft golden glow.
Circular glass light fixtures hang from the unfinished ceiling, illuminating the spacious dining room. The subdued and stylish lighting combined with the latest pop remixes playing comfortably in the background creates an elevated ambience throughout the restaurant.
Serving dinner Monday through Saturday, O-Ku offers a modern atmosphere to try new take on classic Japanese dishes. After your meal, walk down the street to check out live music venues like Songbyrd and local shops.
Seats are up for grabs at the bar, which serves the full menu in addition to drinks. High tables are available for groups of three to four, making O-Ku a fun place to have a special dinner with a small group of friends.
The restaurants menu offers sushi and sashimi specialties as well as contemporary robata-style dishes, which are dishes prepared in a type of cooking similar to grilling or barbecuing and involves cooking over hot charcoal on a flat, open surface.
Eye-catching menu items include wagyu-grade Japanese steak seasoned with fresh wasabi ($ 19), shrimp and scallops seasoned in yuzu-miso butter ($ 16), and the vegetarian option of wild mushrooms served. with soy frosting ($ 14, all made robata style. Traditional sushi rolls are also available on O-Ku’s menu and range from $ 14 to $ 18.
Try one of O-Ku’s specialty cocktails like their Thai shobo served hot with rum, mocha pumpkin spice and a coconut whisk ($ 13) to accompany your meal, or go for a beer Japanese ($ 6- $ 10), a soft drink like homemade Thai tea ($ 6) or a refreshing blueberry and cucumber lemonade ($ 7).
On O-Ku’s list of signature nigiri, which are sold by the piece and put fish in the spotlight, I tried the flambÃ© scallop nigiri ($ 11), which consists of a rectangular piece of scallop on a bed of rice and garnished with a small slice of orange, garlic chili oil and delicate microgreens.
Presented with refinement in the center of a small black plate, the nigiri is served with small dishes of wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. The mild flavor of the scallop was enhanced by the subtle smoke that shone through the light searing atop the scallop, and the spoonful of garlic and chili oil added a surprisingly powerful spice to each bite. of nigiri.
Although it comes in a small serving size, the dish packs in a range of flavors. The hot chili spice is balanced by the sweetness of the orange, and the leafy green garnish adds simple freshness to the fish.
To accompany my main course, I tried O-Ku’s Spicy Crispy Salmon Roll ($ 14) which is a personal order, so I was naturally curious to see how O-Ku would compare to the versions of the dish that I have already tried. Delicately sprinkled with small puffs of tempura chips, the added crunch on the salmon roll brought a change in texture from the soft and tender scallop of the nigiri. The spicy flavors of the creamy sauce drizzled over the roll contrasted with the sweetness of the avocado and cucumber nestled inside, complementing the lightly smoky flavors of the scallop nigiri.
O-Ku incorporates elements of traditional Japanese cuisine and presents them in a sophisticated and chic environment. The combination of earth tones, oak wood and colorful lighting of the restaurant added to the experience of eating Chef Michael Legg’s tasty and meticulously presented nigiri.
Next time you’re at NoMa, look for O-Ku for their fresh and tasty sushi served in a modern yet relaxed setting.