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Freshmen Serve Up Omakase

dining restaurants


Boston University


Freshmen Serve Up Omakase

Fresh sushi served right from a West Campus dorm room

Barbara Kang


“They have their own geotag. This is hilarious,” said Sarah Cummings, a freshman majoring in graphic design. As she explained her Wednesday night dining experience to sophomore Pilar O’ Connor, others eavesdropped while making faces of either repulsion or excited, envious curiosity.
A weekly pop-up dinner has been occurring on our campus. The two entrepreneurs have used their living space as a launch pad to showcase their impressive talents by serving fresh fish omakase style. Both born and raised in New York City, the two took inspiration from the innovative way the sushi is served at upscale restaurant, Sushi of Gari. Taking only 20 to 26 reservations for one selected night of the week, they have created an exclusive, semi-secret pop-up dinner for food fanatics. The dinner is private and intimate, and invitation is required.

With limited offerings, the creators offer each fish with its own custom-made sauce and ingredients such as shiso leaf or shiitake mushrooms braised with truffle oil.

“The man who handles cutting our fish—he grew up in the same village as Jiro Ono, one of the most influential master sushi chefs in Japan," said Creator One, one of the masterminds behind the unique concept who wished to remain anonymous to avoid risking their entire operation. "They both worked at the same market, and they both grew up in a culture of learning the art of sushi.”

Previous specials have included a torched salmon belly brushed with ponzu and yuzu, embellished with shiitakes marinated with brown sugar.

Stevie Maizes, a fellow Rival writer, had the pleasure of trying the toro nigiri.

“I’ve never had sushi with this much flavor,” Maizes praised.

It took hard work and planning to get the flavors just right.

“It’s a gamble, but we bring together the flavors in the most chaotic way possible to create a coalition, Creator Two said. "I designed the menu at three in the morning. Some of the sauces were made minutes before or during the first service. Being that we’re still in classes and working, there is not much pre-planning we could do. It’s mostly improvised.”

The fast growing trend of pop-up restaurants is an experimental outlet for aspiring chefs and food connoisseurs. It offers the flexibility to constantly change the menu and an opportunity to start up at a low-cost, temporary basis. While opening a fine dining eatery can cost more than $1 million, pop-up dinners can be a fraction of the cost.

“It exemplifies the fact that you can build it on your hobby," Creator One said. "Restaurants have trouble holding quality at low prices. When you don’t have to pay for permit, space, and employees, you are able to hold your ingredients and the quality to the highest standards. It’s experimentation without limitation.”

Pop-up restaurants are a great method to test a new concept. Pop-up dinners are a concept within a concept. Experiential marketing intrigues consumers that are expecting marketers to provide them with experiences outside of their usual scope. There is no doubt pop-up dinners such as the one occurring on our campus call for such attention.
Pop-up dinners have noticeably started occurring around early 2008. In early 2012, I was blessed to closely witness the humble beginnings of a new pop-up dinner. Originally taking place in a warehouse in Venice Beach, California two weekends of the month, Foodshop is run by two architects, Hyejin Cho and Italy Zach, who both share a passion for cooking. Hyejin would often bring me boxes containing gifts of roasted globe artichokes, 30-day dry-aged steaks with blooming Cipollini onions and smashed potatoes, or melted dark chocolate chip cookies with pecans.

A part-time pâtissier at Little Door, a romantic Parisian restaurant located in West Hollywood, Hyejin desires to share her love for cooking with Foodshop. The BYOB, family-style dinner is served on a communal table in an eclectic setting of dimmed lights and wood panels. The special, fine-dining experience offered a chance to meet individuals from a wide-range of careers and backgrounds. With high demand, Foodshop’s events have become more numerous, offering dinner at locations such as the iconic Schindler House in West Hollywood. With increased popularity, the exclusiveness of the Foodshop dinners has skyrocketed. Reservations are highly coveted, and most parties are on waiting lists for months.

Pop-up restaurants are appealing to a population that craves both an out-of-the-norm experience and amazing food. The pop-up dinner at BU is shrouded in mystery, but getting a reservation is not impossible. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but only one dorm that serves sushi.