To Dine at This New NYC Omakase Speakeasy, You Have to Decode a Cipher First

Commodore Perry’s 1853 trip aboard the USS Susquehanna to Asia has been well documented. Few know about his companion Mr. Moto, however, a gourmand and art connoisseur who traveled with him.

At least that’s the story the Office of Mr. Moto is selling (its namesake is a fictional character created by the team behind the restaurant). The new omakase speakeasy in New York has dreamt up a tale that brings a deeper element of storytelling to the experience. Mr. Moto’s life will guide your journey, just as the sushi chefs behind the counter will guide your meal.

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But first, to enter the restaurant you’ll need to decode a cipher sent to you prior to your reservation. That code, entered on a pin pad inside a mailbox outside, will allow you entry to the Office of Mr. Moto. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by the host and whisked away to either the Gallery or the Counter. The former is an eight-seat space serving a 23-course menu, while the latter is a six-seat sushi counter offering 21 courses.

In either spot, the $185 menu curated by executive chef Toshio Matsuoka features high-quality fish sourced from the Toyosu Fish Market in Japan. While dishes will change with the seasons, you might encounter marinated bluefin tuna, simmered sea eel, gizzard shad and kelp-cured Japanese sea bream. In the Gallery, the omakase menu will be supplemented by an uni tasting flight and a welcome drink (two beverage pairings including wine and sake are also available, for $75 and $115).

The format of the tasting is meant to take you on a journey through the different centuries of Japanese cuisine. Toward the beginning, you’ll get to taste oshizushi (traditional pressed sushi from the 18th century), followed by the 19th-century nigirizushi. Later courses will emphasize more modern preparations and ingredients, like the aforementioned uni and temaki.

Following your meal, you might linger in the Library, where you can enjoy a drink while listening to Mr. Moto’s collection of jazz. The cozy space is decorated with leather furnishings, antique items and even a self-playing Yamaha piano. Before you depart, you’ll receive one more cipher. If you’re able to figure it out, you’ll get to enjoy perks like early access to reservations and complimentary sake.

It seems like Mr. Moto was a rather generous man.

The Office of Mr. Moto opens February 1. It will offer two seatings Wednesday through Sunday, at 6 and 8:30 pm.

Click here to see all the photos of the Office of Mr. Moto.

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