I follow quite a few New York bloggers and Instagrammers, but I also love to read blog posts from people who are traveling to the city for the first time. While it’s partly because I’m curious about what they choose to do on their visit, it’s also because there’s a genuine feeling of wonder and excitement that’s infectious. I find their observations charming, whether good (“there’s so much to see!”) or bad (“it smells horrible!”). Traveling has always given me that high — going into sensory overload as you take in things you’ve never seen, smelled or heard before. And while many cities have charmed me, few have done so like Tokyo.
Visiting Japan was always high on my list because I love the food. If someone said I could only eat Japanese food for the rest of my life, I would equate it to having to serve out a prison sentence in Barneys.
It’s gonna be rough, but I think I can handle it.
Japan’s food and culture are endlessly alluring. But you don’t have to suffer through airport security to enjoy it. Osakana, which is a fish market in Williamsburg owned by Yuji Haraguchi, offers a taste of both. Don’t come expecting the hustle of Tsukiji Market: it’s a much more refined experience since most of the work is done for you. The daily offerings are sliced into edible portions, and several are offered already doused in a marinade suited to the fish.
Yuji Haraguchi’s story is one that, as an immigrant, I can particularly appreciate. He’s been in the wholesale seafood business for much of his career, but he started devising creative dishes which he would serve in pop-ups at Kinfolk Studios, Smorgasburg and Whole Foods. His success led to the opening of his restaurant, Okonomi, and he’s since turned to Kickstarter to fund projects like Osakana. It’s a trajectory that immigrants dream of: a true made-in-America tale of where passion and tenacity can take you.
What’s unique about Osakana is that it doesn’t want to just sell you fish, it wants to teach you about it too. Conscientious diners are more focused on sourcing and sustainability than ever before, and Osakana is here to help. It offers a range of courses, which are either in the format of demonstrations or hands-on classes. We chose a Sashimi at Home class, which explores preparations of fish such as yubiki, yakishimo and kobujime. We watched as Yuji skilfully handled the fish, unfazed as he rattled off a list of fish that would be suited for a given preparation while he showed us how to expertly remove the skin off a filet.
Osakana offers classes on fish butchery and knife sharpening, as well as a whole host of cooking classes. You can also request one-on-one or small group sessions. For groups of 6-12, you can organize a sushi-making party, which could be a really fun activity with out-of-town visitors or with close friends to celebrate a significant event. Visit their website for a schedule, and find different ways to “honor your fish”.
290 Graham Ave
Daily 11am – 9pm
Pair it with:
Brunch at Okonomi
It’s perhaps the most
lazy obvious pairing ever, but we have to recommend a trip to Okonomi, Yuji Haraguchi’s restaurant located just a few streets over from Osakana. The few samplings from class are unlikely to satiate, so you’ll be right and ready for a proper meal. While you can find daily donburi and ramen offerings at Osakana, the traditional Japanese ichiju-sansai set meals found at Okonomi should not be missed. Ichiju-sansai literally translates into “one soup, three dishes”. Everything is sourced locally so the options change regularly. The meal took us back to our lovely time in Japan, down to the impeccable service we received.
Note: If you happen to take an evening class, Okonomi becomes Yuji Ramen for dinner service, which offers an à la carte menu of seafood-rich ramen and mazemen, as well as a ramen omakase on weekend nights.
150 Ainslie St
Mon – Fri 9am – 3pm
Sat – Sun 10am – 4pm