Ozoku Brings Exciting Small Bites to Royalton Lounge

Ozoku Brings Exciting Small Bites to Royalton Lounge

Tuna poke (Courtesy Ozoku)

Ozoku is a cozy sushi and sashimi bar located in Royalton’s iconic lounge in the Theater District. This stylish pop-up restaurant is the perfect spot to unwind after work or grab drinks and imaginative small bites before heading to an evening performance. With its intimate atmosphere, charming paper crane decor and menu items that beg to be shared, Ozoku makes for a great weeknight date spot too.


I was joined at Ozoku by a dear friend of over 20 years for a post-work friend-date. Each with an Ozoku signature Hickory Old Fashioned in hand, we split a handful of dishes and had an enjoyable evening of amazing food.


Executive Chef Vanessa Miller’s menu boasts traditional Japanese techniques with a Western spin on them. Each dish is plated beautifully—you’re going to want to share pics on Instagram and Snapchat to make your friends jealous, trust me—and tastes equally exquisite. In addition to some snacks (charred edamame, mixed radishes, miso soup and an apple and kimchi salad), Ozoku’s main dishes are an assortment of sushi, sashimi and poke. I’ve been a sushi-lover for years, but this was my first experience trying sashimi and poke. Thumbs up. Thumbs waaaaay up.


Poke is a raw fish salad in Hawaiian cuisine that is traditionally served as an appetizer. The fish is cut into bitesized chunks and served with various flavorings. At Ozoku, the poke is served over rice. We tried the salmon and watermelon pokes. When I saw pine nuts and cranberry listed as the ingredients with the salmon, my first thought was “What?!” But it works—and it works well. The tartness of the cranberry and texture of the pine nut with the salmon (and we added just a hint of soy sauce) made for a well balanced bite. The watermelon took the place of fish in its poke dish and was a burst of fresh flavor that paired delightfully with the kimchi vinaigrette.

From top left, clockwise: tuna tataki, watermelon poke, Hamachi Roll, The Sidepiece (©Katie Labovitz)

We tried the tuna tataki sashimi (with butternut squash and sliced citrus) and the apple and kimchi salad (served over baby kale and with goat cheese and ginger—this was my friend’s favorite dish of the night). We also devoured two sushi rolls—the Hamachi Roll and The Sidepiece.


The hamachi roll was extra fun to look at/eat because it was topped with brightly colored tobiko (flying fish roe) and I also loved the creamy avocado used in the roll. My most favorite dish of our Ozoku adventure was The Sidepiece. A big Thank You to the chef for her recommendation, because this was heavenly—shrimp tempura, spicy scallop and scallion all topped with a sweet soy sauce. I’m not great with spicy food (which was why I was hesitant to try it in the first place), but it was not spicy at all! And the sweet soy sauce really complemented the savory shrimp flavor… when you go to Ozoku, definitely order The Sidepiece.


Some yummy-sounding dishes we didn’t try this time around include a rock crab roll, sea bass sashimi and tuna and hamachi poke dishes, among others. Also, the drinks menu had Ozoku-specific cocktails, sakes, Japanese whiskeys, beers, wines and more. The Hickory Old Fashioned cocktails we had were fantastic—hickory-infused Woodford Reserve bourbon, Black Dirt Apple Jack, maple whiskey, honey water and hickory smoke. Yum.


Seating for only 30 guests at a time and open from 5 pm until 10 pm Monday through Friday, make sure to get to Ozoku early in the evening. Call to make a reservation (212.768.5120) or make one online here. Reservations are available through December 31, 2016.


Great food, tasty drinks, chill atmosphere—Ozoku is located in the lounge area of Royalton at 44 W. 44th St. (btw Fifth & Sixth aves). 


Ozoku interior (Courtesy Ozoku)

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