One of the greatest chefs to grace the New York food scene, Hiroki Odo, has expanded his breadth of work by launching the new sushi concept, Muse. With an artful focus on premium Japanese sushi, Chef Odo promises to blossom a new connection between his home in Japan and the local community in New York City. To best understand how Muse came to be and how it has already proven to live up to that promise, we explore the Chef’s multi-faceted business endeavors and inspiration.
A Japan native, Chef Hiroki Odo takes pride in his heritage and bringing this cultural influence to the states. After leading Kajitsu, one of New York City’s most highly acclaimed shojin ryori restaurant’s focused on a vegan tasting menu, in 2018 Hiroki moved forward to co-found the quaint and alluring Hall, along with his namesake Kaiseki restaurant, Odo, under one roof.
At 17 W 20th Street in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, a one-of-a-kind hybrid concept space was born. Just past the entrance door, a small yet charming room (seemingly rich in history thanks to it decor) is a cafe by day, and bar by night. Classic elements of decorative wood panels surround the entire room with a deep marble countertop bar including only a handful of stools. An intimate space no doubt; which was the intention of it’s founders in creating a cherished destination to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and enjoy premium quality food and drinks in a close-knit setting. Hall as they call it, has a well thought out menu for all day casual dining. Although laid-back, we can assure it’s done tastefully with a touch of class. I mean, where else can you order a foie-gras burger?
Although Hall provides sufficient enough charm, Chef Hiroki Odo had another idea for this space. Through the captivating brushed golden door is a narrow hallway leading to the Chef’s namesake culinary haven known as Odo. A 12-or-so seat cedar chef’s counter facing the kitchen is where the magic happens right before your eyes. In the theme of kaiseki – a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner – a collection of various skills and preparations are offered throughout the 9 Course Tasting Menu. A focus on local, seasonally rotated ingredients prepared using foreign traditions brings together Hiroki’s appreciation for his natively learned skills that are carried over using domestic elements. It’s a wonderful, harmonious approach to cuisine, which has earned Odo a Michelin star. From an introductory dish of Sakizuki (egg custard topped with uni, osetra caviar, and white truffle) followed by a candlelit Otsukuri (sashimi trio of Japanese snapper, squid, and barracuda), all the way to the Gohan course (tobiko rice with fatty tuna and salmon eggs), a beautiful array of ingredients and preparations are on full display.
Perhaps the exclusivity of Odo is a great thing, ensuring a superb quality of food and service. Yet as a creative in his own right, Chef Odo felt the need to connect with diners on another new level. This time, bringing a bit more influence from Japan’s Kyushu region where Odo is from. With the widespread uncertainty and restrictive nature of in-person dining in New York City over the course of 2020, Hiroki dreamt up a way to bring his roots directly to diners in NYC. Enter Muse, a new cuisine concept to celebrate the root of culture and connectivity by offering natively sourced ingredients from Japan in simplistic sushi arrangements. The conscious, environmentally friendly approach to cuisine supports fishermen and hydroponic indoor-plant growers to add variety and minimize food wastes. Working with Olympic Team nutritionist, new menu items are developed ensuring a wholesome array of food to match the responsible qualities. Artistry did not stop there, as the Sushi Muse team enlisted artist Kanai Kogei to design the to-go packaging offered in a decorative presentation. Overall the Sushi Muse concept goes beyond the food, truly bringing together a common conscious, creativity, and connectivity between the source and the end consumer.
Ultimately an art gallery space will accompany Sushi Muse for diners to enjoy in person once New York City regulations allow. For now, the Sushi Muse concept is exclusively pick-up or delivery in the local area. We invite you to discover the world of Sushi Muse online at sushimuse.com
Photos by Cody Rasmussen