Divisive sushi chef David Bouhadana’s 30-minute omakase restaurant Sushi by Bou is no longer at its original location in the Gansevoort Market. The tiny counter that first opened in May drew controversy in the summer after Eater reported that the white chef had been using a fake Asian accent during service.
Market owner Chris Reda confirmed that Sushi by Bou and its counterpart Sushi by Bae are no longer at the Chelsea food hall as of Tuesday. He said that the relationship ended “amicably” as Bouhadana pursues brick-and-mortar opportunities. On Monday, news came out that Bouhadana would be opening a counter at the Jue Lan Club.
In an email statement to Eater, the Sushi by Bou team said that the restaurant is moving because the new location will be able to serve alcohol, whereas the Gansevoort Market does not have a liquor license. Two more locations are also planned for 2018, the statement said.
But multiple sources within the market say that the departure was not so rosy.
One source close to the market says that the chef’s contentious relationship with the Department of Health was related. Bouhadana has publicly battled the department’s rule to wear gloves while making sushi — calling it a “BS rule” that ruins fish. Vendors at the market were uncomfortable with the relationship, with some perceiving that the DOH visited more frequently after Sushi by Bou joined, the source says.
Multiple sources within the market also say that Bouhadana made “derogatory comments towards the culture of food he prides himself on” and toward employees at other vendors in Gansevoort, including comments that they considered racist. The chef continued to use a fake Asian accent, one source says, noting that it’s one reason he wasn’t welcome anymore.
Reda declined to comment about the controversies surrounding the chef. Bouhadana called the allegations “completely misinformed” in a statement.
Update (March 11, 2019): Since the initial publication of this article, Sushi by Bou and Chef Bouhadana have denied that Chef Bouhadana made derogatory comments toward the culture of his food or individuals at the Gansevoort market. With their written denials, they provided e-mail correspondence with a former member of management at Gansevoort claiming that Sushi by Bou left the Gansevoort market of its own accord for a variety of business reasons unrelated to these accusations, that prior to her departure management of the market asked Sushi by Bou to stay on as a tenant, and that she personally had not witnessed or heard of any of the allegations referenced in this article by other vendors at the market.