Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
Opening next Monday: Ogawashi, at… Oga Wa Shi?
“In Korean,” says Mr. Yi, “‘Ogawashi’ means ‘5th and C’. Oga means ‘Fifth,’ wa means ‘and,’ and shi means ‘C’.”
Which is why Mr. Yi’s calling his new downtown sushi restaurant “Ogawashi”: 5th and C is exactly where it’s located.
All going well, he should be open for sushi business next Monday lunchtime (August 27th), right here at 1100 Fifth Avenue on the corner with C Street, in the Ross building, across from the Fifth Avenue trolley stop.
“Soft opening,” says Mr. Yi, cautiously. “Grand opening maybe a month later.”
I’ve just jumped off the trolley. There used to be a sports bar here, “Red Zone,” but that closed. I’ve been noticing how much work has gone into this renovation ever since early June. Sure looks like these guys are serious.
They’re still carrying in furniture, peeling paper off wall surfaces, finishing big swing doors as I wander in.
Have to say, there’s something familiar about the raw timber siding they’ve put up inside. And the heavy swing doors.
It’s Suyong Yi, in the middle of the whole hustle and bustle just inside, who gives away the secret. “Our interior is designed by Paul Basile,” he says. “Famous designer.”
Oh, right. Basile. He designed Delux Dogs, the new hot dog place in Coronado, and Craft and Commerce, in Little Italy.
Turns out this ain’t the first venture for Mr. Yi, either. He owns PB Sushi (1203 Garnet, 858-274-9755), famous, apart from anything else, for their $1 Monday night sake bombs.
“We decided to open up here for the business and financial community, and people living downtown,” he says. “Serious sushi, but fun atmosphere, too.”
His secret weapon? Don Kim, the executive chef. Mr. Yi says he’s pretty famous up in LA.
Mr. Kim appears from the kitchen area. He's a tall, happy-looking guy.
“I’m Korean, but this is a Japanese sushi place,” he says. “Korean and Japanese sushi are similar, although we Koreans like things a little spicier.”
What I like is that with serious openings like this, things are starting to heat up on this side of Broadway. Standing here at oga wa shi, you get the vibe of a scene waiting to happen.