If you love sushi and have $185 to blow, there are few better ways to go than the 18-course omakase meal at Sushi Salon. A pop-up that’s been operating from Berkeley’s Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya, the operation has clenched a devoted following for its wild and creative array of sushi and a technique of preserving fish by spiking their spinal cords with wire.
Joji Nonaka and Anna Osawa, who before founding Sushi Salon worked in Alameda’s highly regarded Utzutzu, have been searching for a brick-and-mortar for a while. Now it appears they’ve found it in Oakland, according to a beverage-license notice in the window of 4008 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, next to Arthur Mac’s and the MacArthur BART station. The former States coffee shop is a small space, so it’ll be interesting to see how Nonaka and Osawa will squeeze their restaurant within, and whether they’ll offer to-go meals like they’ve been doing at Fish & Bird.
There’s no menu posted yet but if it’s anything like Nonaka’s Instagram, the fish selection could be incredible. The chef regularly shares photos of sea creatures that have landed on his cutting board, like Japanese Rubyfish from Kanagawa, Azurio tuskfish, dopey-looking Unicorn Leatherjackets and “Red frog crab” that is “a crab, but it walks back and forth.”
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Sushi Salon is known for employing the services of a famous fish broker, Hiroki Hasegawa, who hand-selects and ships fish directly from Japan. The fish are slaughtered using a method called shinkei jime. First they’re spiked in the brain to kill them instantly, then a wire is run through their spinal cords to delay rigor mortis and preserve freshness and flavor. Sushi Salon claims to be the only restaurant in the U.S. serving fish prepared via shinkei jime.
If sushi fanatics need more to get excited about, the operation also uses Wakayama prefecture soy sauce made with 300-year-old techniques like boiling soybeans over wood fire, and a “static-fermented” vinegar from a 130-year-old brewery in Kyoto. The Mercury News has reached out to Sushi Salon via email, and will provide updates as they arrive.