150 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn NY 11211
Cuisine: Sushi, Ramen, Japanese
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Great
Cards: All Major
Hours: Monday – Friday 9am to 2pm & 6pm to 11pm.
Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4pm.
Booze: Beer and sake only
Subway: L to Lorimer or Graham, G to Metropolitan
Brooklyn Based says:
In Williamsburg this week while hoping to check out the new, almost-ready Meat Hook sandwich shop, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Okonomi is now open nearby. The latest from chef Yuji Haraguchi, who has already earned a loyal smorgas-following for his pop-up Yuji Ramen shop, Okonomi is a tiny, unsuspecting sliver of a restaurant on Ainslie Street, just off Lorimer. A simple sign with one Japanese character marks the door, and inside there are just two tables and four bar stools overlooking a tiny open kitchen. But they’re serving some of the most original cuisine I’ve found in Brooklyn lately, a fun take on a traditional Japanese-style breakfast.
Okonomi translates to “as you like it,” but really it means “as the chef likes it.” There’s no menu, and breakfast/lunch here is omakase-style, a prix fixe featuring several dishes of chef-selected small bites. All they ask you to do is choose your fish, and there were four options on the day I visited: hake filet, hake belly, local Long Island tilefish belly, and king mackerel marinated in sake, a luscious slab of fish that arrived seared and solid, looking more like a pork chop than a sea creature, yet each savory bite easily flaked off with just the touch of a chopstick.
At Okonomi, there’s no extra fat added to any plates outside of the fat naturally occurring in the ingredients. Therefore, Haraguchi notes, it’s important to source good ingredients. Throughout the day all food is cooked in either hot water or in the oven. So, what you’re getting at Okonomi follows ichiju san-sai, but in place of regional Japanese ingredients, meals are composed of local New York ingredients.
Okonomi sources 90 percent of its seafood from the East Coast, roughly the stretch between Maine and DC. Haraguchi does not serve fish imported from Japan, and the farthest he’s gone to procure seafood is to Seattle for wild salmon. Likewise, he hits the Union Square Green Market and the Greenpoint Greenmarket for whole, locally-grown vegetables….
“Okonomi” translates to “as you like it,” which is funny because dining at the restaurant isn’t as you like it. It’s as Haraguchi likes it. But the chef says he watches every plate that goes back to the kitchen and 99 percent of what he serves diners is finished. So, perhaps “as you like it” is fair after all.