In Japanese, “kissaki” translates to “tip of a blade” or “knife point” which is fitting since sushi chefs take their knives very seriously. Located in the former Amato Opera House location on Bowery and Bleecker Streets, Kissaki is the latest project by eclectic Sushi Chef Mark Garcia, formerly of Gaijin in Astoria where over a three-year period, he gained an ardent following. Chef Mark is known for offering an energetic and sophisticated omakase that showcases his personality along with traditional Japanese techniques blended with his own flair. Kissaki is a bit of a departure from the traditional Edomae-style sushi palaces of New York and strives to create a unique and intimate dining experience that honors Japanese tradition and the art of the knife. Under the direction of Chef Mark, the team is composed of craftsmen and artists with practiced hands that create precise dishes that tell a story. Kissaki’s vast counter seats 26 guests with 15 spots reserved for the omakase and the remaining 11 for cocktailing and bites. Only open for dinner, the omakase will be offered for $160 which includes three appetizer courses including a soup, 12 pieces of nigiri and one dessert with matcha.

While Chef Mark honors tradition and technique, his sushi is a bit playful. Chef Mark’s omakase will be driven by seasonality, serving nigiri such as Bluefin Chutoro with caviar, yuzu zest and plum soy, Buri with soy and pepper butter, flame broiled Kinmedai with soy and honey crisp oroshi and Shima-aji with garlic, ginger and chive oroshi with plum soy. Joining him behind the counter is co-Executive Chef Evan Zagha who previously worked at Brushstroke and has an affinity for all things Japanese. Using Japanese techniques, his dishes are focused on local bounty based on his relationships with local farmers. Chef Evan will prepare dishes such as Soy-poached duck with gomae, myoga and yuzu miso, Sesame-kombu cured salmon with genmai powder, tosazu and shungiku and Kinpira with sesame yuzu emulsion, bamboo shoots and watermelon radish. He will offer a Vegan Chawanmushi with mushroom ankake and Black Truffle Ankake with ebi and ginger oroshi. Also behind the counter, Assistant Sushi Chef Andrea Martinez will be seen preparing sauces and garnishes for the final touch of Chef Mark’s nigiri.

The last member of the team is cook-turned-bartender Dean Brown who heads the beverage program at Kissaki. Dean takes a culinary approach to the beverages, sharing a pantry with chefs Mark and Evan to minimize waste. He uses all-natural products, incorporating techniques like infusions and house made tinctures and is even making his own ice in-house. Therefore, Kissaki will be one of the few sushi restaurants with a cocktail and spirit-free pairing in addition to wine and sake. Dean’s cocktail pairings will begin with light and citrusy offerings before moving on to more rich and bold flavors to complement the sushi with offerings including The Earl of Manhattan, a black tea infused take on the classic with chilled bergamot. Chef Evan heads the tea program at Kissaki, offering a traditional service of matcha as well as loose leaf tea white, green, red, black and fermented teas.

The bar at Kissaki was designed by SpaceNY to emulate the shape of the blade. The long and vast bar stretches the length of the restaurant with its point greeting diners as they enter the space. As the centerpiece of the room, it gracefully guides from cocktail bar to an omakase sushi bar with a change of materials as it passes beneath a high screen made of wooden slats. Used throughout the room, the wooden slats separate and define the space, first appearing in the front window, where they create a dramatic moody play with light and shadow as well as offering a needed bit of privacy from bustling Bowery Street. The slats appear again against the back wall, installed in an overlapping pattern to optically create a large circle anchoring the space. In Japanese, “Enšo” means circle and is a symbol in Zen Buddhism which stands for absolute enlightenment, elegance, strength, infinity and the expanse of the universe. The soft silhouettes created by the sconces accentuate the circles behind and across from the omakase counter while paying homage to Japanese design and culture. The ceiling is painted black and white overhead lamps casts light upon the bar creating an intimate setting decorated with dark blue wallpaper with hand drawn gold fish throughout the room.

Chef Mark believes an omakase can be intimidating so his goal for Kissaki is to engage diners and make it a one-of-a-kind experience. The team hopes for this to be the first in a possible group of sushi restaurants.

The new franchise model will be designed to train entrepreneurs from underserved communities with the express purpose of fostering economic empowerment among talented individuals, who lack access to capital and training resources. The program will provide critical education and ongoing support through on-the-job training in a real-world commissary and storefronts, and participation in Everytable University, a year-long, multidisciplinary educational series.

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