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Look at the Artful Japanese Fare Served at Union Market’s O-Ku

The new restaurant, opening June 22, features everything from raw tuna to grilled lamb chops

Bryan Emperor, executive chef of the O-Ku opening June 22 across from Union Market, cooking meats on his robata grill.

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Area newcomer O-Ku may have built its reputation on serving exemplary sushi, but the latest addition to the Union Market area is bringing much more to the table.

The Japanese restaurant, which originated down South, features a variety of raw fish sure to sate sushi aficionados. There’s nigiri ($9-$12), sashimi, and gourmet rolls ($9-$17) doctored with everything from marinated kelp to buttery sea urchin. Feeling adventurous? An omakase option ($80-$120) allows the dedicated sushi chefs to lead diners through a spontaneous tasting menu.

Just don’t sleep on items from the cooked side of the menu.

Executive chef Bryan Emperor, an alum of decade-old sushi restaurant Ten in Charlottesville, Virginia, has carved out room for selections that would be right at home at one of the area’s tony steakhouses. He sears cumin-spiced lamb chops, and slices of tender rib-eye steak wrapped around pearl onions and shishito peppers over a wood-fired robata grill; slow-cooks beef short ribs for 48 hours; and crowns fluffy sea bass with layer of puffed rice. Meanwhile, he credits specialty supplier Suzuki Farm in Delaware with providing a bounty of hard-to-find ingredients including mizuna greens, shiso, and spicy-sweet kinome.

“They have plants that are not available in all of North America,” Emperor says of his long-time source.

D.C.’s debut O-Ku is scheduled to operate from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, to start. Management says lunch service could follow in the future.

Status: Scheduled to open June 22. 1274 Fifth Street NE; website.

Scroll down to see the opening menu and pictures of some of the featured menu items:

A trio of remoulade-topped wagyu croquettes at O-Ku.

Sea bass with puffed rice and ponzu sauce at O-Ku.

A green tea-laced cooler at O-Ku.


1274 5th Street Northeast, , DC 20002 (202) 888-8790 Visit Website

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