Chef Yoshi Okai Chats About His One-Week-Only Otoko Pop-Up

No months-in-advance rez needed for this special sushi & cocktail menu

Chef Yoshi Okai’s 12-seat sushi bar Otoko technically occupies the same space as the Lobby Bar of the South Congress Hotel, but experientially, they’re worlds apart.

Yoshi Okai (Photo by John Anderson)

“Otoko has so many regulars, and SCH's Lobby Bar has a bunch of regulars too, right? However, the two groups don't necessarily know about the connection I have to the hotel,” Okai explained. His restaurant is “still kind of a secret – some people don't even know Otoko is on the same property!”

And that’s why the South Congress Hotel squad decided to join forces for a sushi-and-cocktail-centric pop-up restaurant, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the best of both worlds. “All of SCH is a family,” said Okai. “And this gives guests of both places a chance to experience the hotel's interconnectedness. It also allows the two kitchen teams to work more closely with one another. Plus, it's a party!” What’s not to love?

Dinosaur kale dish (Photo by Briana Balducci)

From Monday, September 30 to Friday, October 4, Okai will be taking over South Congress Hotel Lobby Bar for a week-long party showcasing Otoko’s omakase experience. Reservations for seatings at the restaurant typically book up several months in advance, but this week guests can enjoy Okai’s creations in a considerably lower stakes environment.

“This event is really interesting because I get to work with the SCH culinary teams and train them on my food for the week,” Okai enthused. “It's fun to have a chance to work together, so often we never see each other! It's always cool to go and work with another team just as passionate and dedicated but with different styles too.”

Okai will be hosting and serving up bites from a limited time menu at the Monday night cocktail party (reservations are closed), but guests can taste the menu all week. When asked about particular dishes he’s looking forward to sharing with a wider audience, he said, “I'm mostly excited for a new group of guests to get a taste of Otoko. We hope you like it and come for the full omakase experience sometime. You gotta try the wagyu – so good!”

Lobby Bar (Courtesy of Giant Noise)

Watertrade’s head mixologists Whitney Hazelmyer and Ricky Cobia have partnered with Okai to develop a menu of sushi-friendly cocktails to serve alongside the special menu. “I just told them what I plan to serve and let Whitney and Ricky go from there,” Okai said. “I can say there will be some Watertrade cocktails available, as well as one of my favorite sake, plus really good Japanese beer on the menu!”

The wide variety of available drinks corresponds to Okai’s own spontaneous approach to pairing food and beverages. “Overall, the drinks I crave with sushi vary with my mood,” he sayid. “And Watertrade's options hit the spot every time! Ricky and Whitney are both so talented – anything they make is going to be amazing!”

For more information please visit the event page.

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