Tonight, Bushwick’s newest restaurant Okiway opens its doors. The restaurant, located at 1006 Flushing Avenue on the East Williamsburg and Bushwick border, is blending traditional Japanese food options with the flavors of Bushwick.
Inspired by his travels in Japan, owner Vincent Minchelli’s charming and lively personality not only shines through in his Japanese toy collection decorating Okiway’s walls, but in the playful menu options showcasing a unique spin on Japanese food.
Vincent is from the famous Le Duc Restaurant Family in Paris and he joined forces with his co-owner, Amanda Jenkins to open Okiway. Vincent and Amanda have been friends for over 15 years and both work together as hairdressers in New York City. They have traveled together in Japan and created the Okiway concept based from their extensive travels, love of food and personal experiences. They also enlisted the help of Consulting Chef Atsushi Yokota, whose family has been cooking Japanese and French food for generations, to come up with Okiway’s eclectic menu. Executive Chef Michael Arrington, born and raised New Yorker and previously of BOND St and Morimoto in NYC, will be in the Okiway kitchen daily.
Inspired by the many food options found in the Kabukicho District in Japan, Okiway serves Okonomiyaki as well as an array of Takoyaki and Izakaya dishes. The menu at Okiway is inventive by incorporating Japanese fare with the flavors of Bushwick. Unexpected ingredients like avocado and cactus make an appearance to add a contemporary, Bushwick spin to Okiway’s menu. For instance, cactus sashimi ($5) is a vegan small plate option served with ponzu sauce, sesame and spicy daikon. The must-try small plate is the wasabi guacamole with gyoza chips ($7). This interesting and delicious spin on traditional chips and guacamole is an ode to Bushwick mixed with contemporary Japanese fare.
The must-try small plate: wasabi guacamole with gyoza chips
Snacks are affordable and perfect to share with a group of friends. Select from tempura vegetables like avocado, okra, cactus and corn ($3 per vegetable option) served with yuzu salt. You can also try traditional Takoyaki, a ball-shaped bite sized snack made of a wheat flour based batter and octopus cooked in a special takoyaki maker.
Try some of the affordable snacks.
Pull up one of the colorful chairs and sit at the bar — truly the best seat in the house. You can watch the chefs mold noodles and carefully crack eggs as they cook Okonomiyaki on the teppan that sits right below the bar.
The atmosphere is fun and inviting; feel free to ask the chefs questions as they craft their art right in front of your eyes.
Okonomiyaki is the star of the show at Okiway, hence the restaurant’s name. You can create your own Okonomiyaki ($9) selecting from the extensive list of seasonal and locally sourced toppings like okra, shiitake mushrooms, chorizo and more ($1 to $3 per topping). Signature Okonomiyaki dishes are also available like the Spicy Hiroshima, which includes ramen noodles, green onions, tempura bits, egg, red ginger, shredded red pepper, kewpie mayonnaise and otafuku sriracha. Pair this dish with Okiway’s wasabi beer ($11) and you’re in for one awesome dining experience. The wasabi beer is a must try and gets even better when paired with Okiway’s food.
Wasabi beer surprisingly doesn’t have a kick.
The Mexican Okonomiyaki ($12) is served with avocado, chorizo, chipotle, crema and lime. This colorful and flavorful dish is an interesting spin on Okonomiyaki that incorporates flavors one might find down the street from Okiway on Bushwick’s Knickerbocker Avenue.
The Mexican Okonomiyaki
If you’re looking for other hearty options, the large plates ($11 to $15) include options like Black Squid Ink Fried Rice and Saikyo Miso Zuke Salmon. There is also a rotating menu of specials that are highlighted daily, including yakatori and more.
Okiway also provides ample food options for vegetarians and vegans. Most dishes can be created vegetarian or vegan, just simply ask your server for his or her guidance. The Vegan Okonomiyaki ($10) is a filling option served with kale, tofu, cabbage, red ginger, mushrooms, ponzu sauce and spicy daikon.
Vegans and vegetarians, you will love this place.
The drink selection at Okiway includes sakes, sochu, wine and beer. If you’re a craft beer drinker, you’re in for a treat. Okiway will feature hard-to-find small batch Japanese brews ($11-15) like a wasabi beer, which surprisingly doesn’t have a kick.
Try some hard-to-find Japanese brews.
If you’re finishing your Okiway experience off with dessert, definitely give the sparking peach jelly sake a try. This drink is refreshing and a great pairing option with an Okiway dessert like the Seasonal Sorbet ($5), Banana Crisp ($6) or Chickalicious Mille Crepes ($9).
Okiway is an inviting, laid-back restaurant that welcomes and incorporates the flavors of the Bushwick neighborhood. Okiway will be the perfect addition to Bushwick restaurant scene by offering eclectic food at reasonable prices.
Okiway is located at 1006 Flushing Avenue. Hours: 6:00pm-12:00am, Tuesday through Sunday.