When the pandemic hit, Kissaki chef Mark Garcia needed a plan for weathering the shutdown of his four sushi restaurants across the New York area. That’s when he came up with the idea of developing omakases to-go, though he was initially hesitant, assuming that demand would be low, and that he’d be sacrificing quality.
To the chef’s surprise, it was a runaway success. “It never occurred to us that we would have to speed up that process quicker, because on any given night, we would do about 200 to 300 boxes,” Garcia says.
When the Kissaki team first determined to do takeout, they ordered 10,000 to-go containers, which were used up immediately. In the next quarter they ordered 40,000, and have been barely able to keep up with their own demand in terms of boxes.
The Mexican-American chef often uses flavors influenced by his culture, filling these beautifully crafted and carefully packed boxes with items like kamasu topped with roasted tomatillos and yuzu kosho, aji topped with herbs and miso sauce, bluefin akami topped off with shiitake, and more.
“This restaurant has evolved and grown during the pandemic,” says Garcia. “I’ll take the hardship of the growth any day before I go back to locking up.”