Sustainable omakase restaurant Mayanoki has landed a permanent home in Alphabet City, five years after it began as a pop-up in Brooklyn. Co-owners Josh Arak and David Torchiano are subletting the former Against the Grain space at 620 East 6th Street, with the expectation that it will become a long-term arrangement.
The new Mayanoki will open on Wednesday, May 31 with chef Mike Han leading the kitchen. Han recently moved to New York after leading the kitchen at Roka Akor in Chicago and working at Katsu-ya in Encino and Katsu-ya by Starck in Glendale, California.
They’ll explore non-traditional sushi techniques, such as using sous vide, dehydration, and more, while “honoring the spirit and techniques of edomae sushi,” Han says. And, most central to their concept, using sustainable, local seafood.
“Sushi doesn’t need to have fish being flown in from Japan and you don’t need to serve bluefin tuna to have a great meal,” Torchiano says. “We want to make it an American restaurant that happens to serve sushi and happens to be sustainable. We’re aiming to be the same level as Shuko or Nakazawa in terms of meal.”
It’s a lofty goal, as both restaurants received three out of four stars from Eater critic Ryan Sutton. Notably, both serve bluefin tuna — widely regarded as one of the most flavorful sushi fish — though Nakazawa’s is from the Atlantic, where they’re less endangered and Shuko’s is from a farm in Spain. Recent research shows that the population of Pacific bluefin tuna has shrunk by more than 97 percent since the 1960s.
Mayanoki’s $95, 15-course menu will serve varieties such as squid, black sea bass from New Jersey, Spanish mackerel, scallops, oysters, albacore tuna, grouper from Florida, and more. The varieties will change based on what is in season and sustainably available, and the restaurant will work with organizations such as Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Ocean Wise to guide sustainability choices. To fit in with the local theme, there’s also an all-New York wine and beer list, though sake will be flown in from Japan.
As for Mayanoki’s space, it relies on the bones of the former restaurant, with its hardwood floors and exposed brick, along with the addition of a walnut bar and new lighting.
Mayanoki opens on Wednesday, May 31 with seatings at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. A soft opening with a lower price point will run May 26 through May 28.