Inside the Box at JPAN

Good Bite

Pictured: The Omakase-style Toyosu box at JPAN is filled with treats from the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy of JPAN Sushi and Grill.

This time of year, stuffing a box full of goodies is on many a Sarasotan’s mind. At JPAN Sushi and Grill, restaurant owner and chef Daniel Dokko is also thinking “inside the box,” albeit from a perspective that’s more fishy than festive. This month, JPAN launched its new Omakase-style Toyosu box, a treasure chest filled with nine delectable bites of sushi.

Omakase translates to ‘trust the chef,’” Dokko says. While most diners are familiar with making their own selections from a menu, an omakase-style meal invites them to open their minds, and stomachs, and allow the chef to decide what he wants to serve them. “Usually, if you go for an omakase, it’s a very intimate dining experience. You have the chef in front of you, and most omakase restaurants have eight to 10 seats maximum around the sushi bar, but those dinners will cost you at least $250, just for the food. We wanted to do something where you get the same quality fish but in a more casual setting,” he adds, hoping to channel this energy into the Toyosu boxes, which bear treasures imported all the way from Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market.

“The original fish market was called Tsukiji which was the most popular, but they built a new facility called Toyosu which replaced the older Tsukiji market,” says Dokko. “For anyone who goes to Japan, I recommend checking out the sushi market. It’s free and will blow your mind.” Restauranteurs, foodies and tourists flock like hungry seagulls to Toyosu, which is known worldwide for its tuna auctions. Unlike the Tsukiji Market, where visitors once wandered amongst vendors, the Toyosu Fish Market separated the two groups, providing observation areas that allow guests to take in the wonders of the market without getting in the way of workers. Visitors can dine at the market’s various restaurants, but if you’re still planning your trip to Japan, you can sample Toyosu’s delights closer to home at JPAN.

“Once a week, the fishmonger at Toyosu makes a box for us with four different seasonal fish. Sometimes, it’s baby octopus; sometimes it’s shellfish. Every week is a surprise for us,” Dokko says, adding that other fish, like Japanese snapper, cuttlefish, kampachi and sea bass have washed up on the shores of JPAN’s kitchen, to be topped with truffle, yuzu and other delicious morsels. Six of the pieces of sushi are nigiri, generally composed of a slice of fish atop a small rice mound, and three are sashimi, slices of fresh raw fish.

“The dish was crafted to embody authenticity and allow the patrons to try the essence of Japanese cuisine,” adds Dokko. “We have two chefs who work together to create this, Chef Rodolfo Lee and Chef Jose Mendez. Every week, it’s like those YouTubers who unwrap gifts. They get the same feeling, and they’re like ‘What are we going to get this week?’ It’s very exciting and new, especially for the customer to try things that are different.”

JPAN Sushi and Grill, Shops at Siesta Row, 3800 S. Tamiami Trail #3, Sarasota, 941-954-5726 and University Town Center, 229 N. Cattleman Rd., Sarasota, 941-954-5726.

Pictured: The Omakase-style Toyosu box at JPAN is filled with treats from the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy of JPAN Sushi and Grill.

JPAN Sushi and Grill

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