With room for only 12 diners, Otoko offers an intimate, artful experience for a lucky few each night.
Oyster with yuzu ponzu, roe, and hana flower garnish.
An evening at Otoko—the new omakase and kaiseki-style fine dining restaurant at the South Congress Hotel—feels like being invited to a secret dining society, from the hidden entrance up a staircase off the courtyard of the hotel to the reservation-only 12-seat dining room. The intimate experience starts with an aperitif at Watertrade, the cocktail bar open only to guests with reservations, and moves to the dining room, lit by a screen wrapping the walls and ceiling, with counter seats facing the kitchen and its chefs, putting diners at the center of the party.
Each course of the changing tasting menu is deftly prepared by the extremely personable executive chef, Yoshi Okai, and his talented staff. Beauty abounds in thoughtful components from edible mustard flowers to brushstrokes of smoked soy to vegan “fish sauce,” served with nasu karaage, a wildly savory fried eggplant dish that “came to Yoshi one night like a lightning bolt,” says chef Sam Walter. Otoko was opened in March by Top Chef and James Beard winner Paul Qui, who got his start at Uchi and Uchiko before opening Qui and the East Side King and Thai-Kun empire of Asian street food.
Tickets to Otoko go on sale the first day of every month. The first two months sold out immediately, making a seat at Otoko the most coveted in town. 7068 E. Monroe St., 512-772- 5899