Japanese restaurant

O-Ku Opens Florida’s First Japanese Restaurant in Jacksonville Beach

Upscale Japanese restaurant with rooftop bar and dining room with postcard-worthy ocean views is now open in the heart of Jacksonville Beach

Located at 502 1st St. N., O-Ku Beach Jacksonville is the first O-Ku in Florida. It joins half a dozen sister restaurants in five states and Washington, D.C.

The Japanese restaurant and sushi bar is part of the Indigo Road Hospitality group, headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, which also has seven Oak Steakhouses as well as hotels and other dining concepts in many of the same cities.

the Jacksonville Beach Restaurant focuses on authentic Japanese cuisine, including traditional sashimi and specialty rolls prepared with a regional approach that showcases fresh ingredients amid sophisticated presentations.

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According to Indigo Road executives, the restaurant sources fish and seafood “from the best fish markets in Tokyo and Hawaii,” as well as local and seasonal ingredients.

“Once we visited Jax Beach, O-Ku immediately felt like home,” Steve Palmer, founder of Indigo Road Hospitality Group, said in an email to The Times-Union.

“We’re always on the lookout for vibrant coastal communities to put down our roots in, and what’s better than fresh sushi with a great view of the beach?” he said. “It’s a wonderful community with welcoming neighbors, and we can’t wait to join the growing culinary scene here.”

Located next to the Lynch Irish Pub, O-Ku features a rooftop bar and dining area with views of the beach and Jacksonville Beach Pier.

Booming restaurant scene

O-Ku complements Jacksonville Beach’s eclectic and growing dining options, Mayor Christine Hoffman told The Times-Union.

“I’m very excited about the opening of O-Ku. The food is great and the team they put together to open the restaurant is really professional and knowledgeable,” Hoffman said.

The menu, she said, offers customers a chance to explore the richness of Japanese cuisine.

“The menu ranges from an omakase experience to happy hour options and the rooftop dining option is a great addition to the restaurant scene in Jacksonville Beach,” she said.

Hoffman said the city’s dining options have evolved to feature global tastes over the years and the expansion shows no signs of slowing down.

“I see our downtown dining options becoming more eclectic with the recent opening of The GOAT — Tapas and Barthe relatively new Jax Spice and soon Oaxaca Club and Jekyll Island Brewing Company,” Hoffman said.

Newly opened or upcoming, these restaurants join established favorites such as Brix Taphouse, Hoptinger Jacksonville Beach, Lynch’s Irish Pub and Angie’s Grom, she said.

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Palmer said O-Ku is a good experience as well as good food. The restaurant, he said, is ideal for “a good night out with friends, a date, celebrations and happy hour in general.”

The main dining room at O-Ku, an upscale Japanese restaurant and sushi bar with a rooftop dining area that recently opened in Jacksonville Beach.

The restaurant offers its customers excellent food and libations in a comfortable and welcoming setting, he said.

“Our menu offers an array of Japanese dishes not easily found elsewhere, and our friendly staff take pride in accompanying guests on their culinary journey from start to finish,” he said.

Palmer said that while many of their new customers already love sushi, the restaurant is thrilled when diners discover “our O-Ku’s sushi offering is so much more than your typical sushi rolls or Makimono.”

“We are best known for our signature Nigiri with specialty toppings, like our Sake Dreams with Aburi-style salmon, with truffle aioli topped with smoked salmon roe. Or our Big Eye, with tuna Akami, avocado with spicy ponzu, topped with rice pearls,” Palmier said.

O-Ku's Lobster Temaki: Butter-poached lobster rolls with asparagus, chives, cilantro aioli, beets and black volcanic salt.

O-Ku menu

O-Ku Jacksonville Beach’s menu invites exploration, he said.

Its selection of chef’s specialties and small plates includes Lobster Temaki, which is butter-poached lobster, red beets, lava salt and cilantro aioli ($21), Usuzukuri with king salmon, black lava salt, wasabi stalk, truffle ponzu and micro greens ($12-$18) and Waygu Tartare Toast showcasing Waygu beef, cilantro aioli, shallot, soy mushroom , kizami and crostini ($18).

Appetizers include a teriyaki chicken donburi with homemade teriyaki and seasonal vegetables ($20), Karaage cauliflower, which is cauliflower tempura, firecracker sauce, crispy onion, green onion and peanuts ($14) and miso salmon, which is a fillet of king salmon, white miso butter and roasted broccolini.

Plus, there’s Omakase, a chef’s multi-course tasting menu for $125 per person and sake pairing for $50 and Japanese Wagyu Beef Tobanyaki for $25 an ounce.

Sushi and sashimi, however, take center stage.

Among his Makimono are Blazing Saddles, which is crab, avocado, cucumber, seared Wagyu beef, cilantro aioli, sweet soy and crispy onions ($18), Happy Buddha , which is Crispy Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, Cucumber, Avocado and Mango Salsa ($15) and The Rising Sun, which features Crab Avocado, Cucumber, Salmon, lemon slices, tobiko, chives and citrus aioli ($10-$15).

O-Ku, an upscale Japanese restaurant and sushi bar with rooftop bar known for its innovative takes on classic Asian cuisine, opened Feb. 4 at 502 1st St. N. in Jacksonville Beach.

Expansion potential

Palmer said they are “absolutely open” to bringing more Indigo Road Hospitality Group restaurant concepts to the Jacksonville area.

“There are so many great neighborhoods and pockets in Jax, the options are varied,” Palmer said. “This is the seventh O-Ku restaurant to open – and the first in Florida – but we have several other concepts to complement the palate, including Oak Steakhouse and Indaco, which specializes in rustic Italian.”

Palmer said O-Ku can more than hold its own in Jacksonville’s highly competitive restaurant market.

Its menu and hospitality along with its location directly across from the iconic Jacksonville Beach Pier and sweeping ocean views — especially from the rooftop dining room — make O-Ku stand out, he said. declared.

The rooftop dining area will open in a few weeks, Palmer said.

O-Ku, an upscale Japanese restaurant and sushi bar with rooftop bar, is known for its innovative takes on classic Asian cuisine.

O-Ku is next to Lynch’s Irish Pub in an elegant two-storey building designed by Cronk Dutch Architecture. It is part of the larger, multi-structure, mixed-use project known as The Gallery, which includes the former J. Johnson Gallery, of Trevato Development Group.

The 4,400 square foot restaurant that can seat 165 people is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dinner and cocktails. Lunch should be added in early spring.

Reservations are encouraged and can be made through the restaurant’s website O-Kusushi.com. But dates are welcome, he said.

Times-Union writer Gary T. Mills contributed to this report