Delage, a sushi-focused restaurant from Chikara Ono (AS B-Dama), has soft-opened in Old Oakland. The new spot is located just next door to Swan's Market, the location of Ono's popular Japanese restaurant, in a standalone building.
Ono describes the concept as "Michelin-quality sushi with small plates influenced by French techniques," intended to be a casual version of an upscale omakase. Though items will (eventually) be available a la carte, Ono hopes to give diners a set example of how the chefs think the meal should be eaten, at a more approachable $50-60 price range (typical omakase menus are upwards of $100).
The restaurant is a collaboration with chef Masa Sasaki, who earned a Michelin star during his time at Maruya, and recently consulted on the opening of Omakase; in this case, he'll stay on for a few months to get things up and running. Sasaki says that the sushi will be mostly nigiri, with sustainably caught fish from Japan, New Zealand and American waters that he will cure, marinate and dehydrate in various ways.
In addition to sushi, there will be a selection of cold and appetizers from chef Keisuke Akabori, who has spent time as a chef at Spago, as well as at his family's restaurant in the South Bay. (Locals alert: his sister Kayoko Akabori co-owns nearby Umami Mart, a store selling Japanese kitchen and barware.)
Part of Ono's decision to open a sushi-focused restaurant is the limitations of the kitchen, which will operate only with induction burners and an oven. Small plates will be super seasonal, incorporating local Bay Area produce from local farmer's markets into Japanese-inspired dishes. While the menu is changing, Akabori is working on dishes like a cold dish featuring asparagus, fava beans, English peas, fried leeks and a poached qual egg, with creamy yuzu dressing; warm dishes might include dishes like tempura ramps with shiso aioli. Sake, wine and Japanese draft beers will also be available.
The whole place seats about 20, including the sushi counter. For Sasaki, it's something of a departure from his more formal sushi background, showcasing Ono's vinyl collection that will play on a turntable, and rocking a serious retro vibe. He says his personal faves are 80s bands like Depeche Mode, though Ono's collection appears to go heavy on the soul.
Starting today (Wednesday, April 27) the restaurant will open from 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. (or so) on Wednesday through Friday. Starting May 5 it'll switch to five days per week for dinner, eventually adding lunch to the mix. Stay tuned for more concrete hours.