Good food can be stirring, intoxicating, provoking. But on unique occasions, it can also be calming.
That’s what you’ll find at 150 Ainslie Street in Brooklyn, at least during the day when it operates as Okonomi before moonlighting as a ramen shop under Yuji.
Okonomi is a bright, simple, pleasant shop, serving traditional Japanese breakfast catered around the catch of the day. Five colorful bites of a variety of veggies are arranged on a single plate, all to complement a simple cut of fish bought from that morning’s trip to the market.
That, and an offering of sushi as an appetizer, is all that’s on their verbal menu. That day, there were are also a limited number of collars available from the same fish.
You can’t fake freshness in fish, and they show a lot of restraint here in their preparation to let the fish just taste like fish. But the surrounding work is detailed and impeccable, making the $20-something per set so worthwhile. When’s the last time anyone put this much work on a plate of breakfast? (Save that tamago for last! It’s artfully made — sweet and fluffy, almost like a dessert.)
The same attention goes into their miso soup, bowl of rice and optional soft-poached egg that accompany the sets. I’m not a big rice eater, but pouring that egg on top and mixing it in was one of the most divine parts of the meal.
Making the overall experience even better was the extremely friendly service from start to finish.
Our family of six, plus baby pea, arrived 15 minutes before their 10 am open on a Saturday. There were already 3 parties waiting outside, but the staff was quick to come out to explain the process to first timers like us. With only a dozen seats (two tables of 4 and a few more seats at the bar), only four of us fit into the first 10 am seating, so we opted to wait 45 minutes for the next round. But not 5 minutes into our wait at the neighboring Blind Barber coffee shop, they came over to say they’d seat us.
From there, every element of every dish was described to us in detail. And despite a growing wait list, we never felt rushed.
Brooklyn is a trek for us Hobokenites, but it’s not every day you find food as thoughtful and people as genuine as what you’ll find at Okonomi.