In a matter of two weeks, chef-owner Damon Cho of Silver Lake’s Yakiniku Osen changed his Japanese grilled meat restaurant into a sushi spot with a newly remodeled space. As its updated moniker suggests, Omakase by Osen, which opened this week at 3503 Sunset Boulevard, leans into high-end fish, with a focus on hand rolls and a chef’s tasting menu that changes daily.
Cho, who also owns the wildly popular Izakaya Osen down the street on Sunset Boulevard, had been dreaming up the idea of an omakase restaurant for years. “I decided to open now because it was a good time to make a change,” Cho says.
The hoods and stoves that were a part of the former barbecue restaurant are now gone. New photographs of Japanese landscapes adorn the walls. The minimalist space, which is about 2,000 square feet, has sand-hued wooden panels surrounding a wall lined with a banquette.
At this reimagined restaurant, omakase takes center stage. The fish hails from Japan, while all of the sauces, including soy and vinegar, are made in-house. And the multi-course meal highlights regional dishes from Japan, as well. While omakase is offered both at the eight-seat bar and tables, the counter is where it’s at to see the chefs in action and get a more curated experience. (The omakase at the bar runs at $150, and $120 at the tables.) Cho, whose resume includes Nobu and Tao, hired a group of chefs who’ve worked in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants to prepare the food.
“They are very well-trained chefs and will constantly ask questions about what customers prefer to eat, and provide food to suit their tastes,” Cho says.
Also new to the menu is an optional five-sake pairing for $50, which changes daily and accompanies the omakase. Cho curates the changing sake pairings daily, which include at least three junmai daiginjo — the highest grade rice wine — and two junmai ginjo offerings.
For a more a la carte experience, the restaurant also offers 30 types of hand rolls, with vegan, traditional, and fancier fillings (think: uni and ikura with caviar). There are also options to get sushi and sashimi, chirashi served in a custom-made wooden box, hamachi ceviche, uni scallop carpaccio, and chawanmushi (a savory steamed egg custard) with uni. Fans of Izakaya Osen may find some familiar dishes on Omakase’s menu, seeing as it’s very much an extension of its sibling restaurant.
It’s a busy month for Cho, as he’s planning to open another Izakaya Osen in Irvine in two weeks. The new spot will be similar to the Silver Lake location, except with a full bar where Cho plans to create 15 new cocktails.
“Due to high demand and long waits at Izakaya Osen, I wanted more guests to try our food,” Cho says. “We have seen more than hundreds of walk-in guests that couldn’t get seated because of long waits over the past few years.”