DC Japanophiles Flock to “Streets of Osaka”

Zentan’s Chef Yo Matsuzaki and Sushi Taro’s Chef Nobu Yamazaki Join Forces for Authentic Osakan-Style Street Festival

Zentan Executive Chef Yo Matsuzaki (left) and Sushi Taro Executive Chef Nobu Yamazaki (right) gave “Streets of Osaka” guests a warm “Irasshaimase” upon arrival.

Zentan Executive Chef Yo Matsuzaki (left) and Sushi Taro Executive Chef Nobu Yamazaki (right) gave “Streets of Osaka” guests a warm “Irasshaimase” upon arrival.

The “Streets of Osaka” came to Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street on March 15. The street festival pop-up was the brainchild of celebrated Japanese chefs Yo Matsuzaki of Zentan and Nobu Yamazaki of Michelin-starred Sushi Taro. With the popularity of regional Japanese cuisines on the rise, Chef Yo and Chef Nobu welcomed the opportunity to introduce a lesser-known, more casual form of Japanese cooking to Washingtonians. The team at Zentan transformed the full restaurant space into an elaborate Osakan-style street festival, immersing guests in all things Japanese street culture.

The VIP Treatment

Zentan Sushi Chef Lin ZhenQun (left in black coat) taught “Streets of Osaka” VIP ticket-holders how to make sushi rolls.

Zentan Sushi Chef Lin ZhenQun (left in black coat) taught “Streets of Osaka” VIP ticket-holders how to make sushi rolls.

The evening’s festivities kicked off in style with a VIP reception from 5-6:30pm. Guests were greeted with a warm “Irasshiamase” from Chef Yo and Chef Nobu, and invited to join the chefs in their street food stalls to personally hear how each dish was made. VIP attendees also learned to roll sushi from Zentan’s classically-trained sushi chef Lin ZhenQun while sipping “Osaka Punch,” a cocktail from Lead Bartender Matt Allred.  

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Stalls & Sips

Chef Yo and Chef Nobu operated the street food stalls throughout the night, answering questions about the menu and freshly preparing each dish for nearly 200 attendees. The front of the festival was fully stocked with an assortment of street food delicacies including robata (Japanese barbecue), karaage (Japanese fried chicken), beef tataki (lightly-seared, thinly-sliced marinated beef), kimpira gobo (stir-fried vegetables) and takoyaki (fried octopus balls), a favorite of Chef Yo and Chef Nobu.  

”Streets of Osaka” attendees sampled unfiltered and unpasteurized sake varieties including Snow Beauty and Kikusui Funaguch.

”Streets of Osaka” attendees sampled unfiltered and unpasteurized sake varieties including Snow Beauty and Kikusui Funaguch.

An extravagant sushi display featured a continuous supply of freshly-made salmon rolls, veggie rolls, and firecracker rolls from Chef Lin. Across from the sushi display was a sake tasting station with an extensive selection of sakes including unfiltered and unpasteurized varieties like Snow Beauty and Kikusui Funaguch. Allred highlighted Mizu Shochu, a rice-based liquor made in Japan, in his two handcrafted “Osaka Punch” cocktails. Mizu Shochu also had their own tasting station to offer pours of barley and lemongrass shochu and share anecdotes from their 160-year history. 

The Vibe

Festive decor played a large role in transforming the restaurant into a lively festival. Decorations ranging from vintage kimonos and wooden Kokeshi dolls to red paper lanterns and bamboo curtains added a unique, Japanese feel to the space. Guests and staff members dressed the part sporting kimonos and other traditional garb. Art lovers delighted in live street art pieces from local artist Takashi Nakajima, which were raffled off at the end of the night. Japanese tunes and live streaming of Sumo Basho, the spring sumo tournaments held in Osaka, provided additional entertainment to festival goers. 

“Streets of Osaka” attendees enjoyed Japanese tunes and live streaming of Sumo Basho, the spring sumo tournaments in Osaka.

“Streets of Osaka” attendees enjoyed Japanese tunes and live streaming of Sumo Basho, the spring sumo tournaments in Osaka.

Celebrating for a Cause

The event raffle featured live art pieces, a cocktail kit from Matt Allred, dinner certificates to Zentan and Sushi Taro, and tickets to Chef Yo’s next street-food cooking class. The Zentan and Sushi Taro teams donated 100% of the raffle proceeds to benefit the Human Rights Campaign’s mission of equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

Local artist Takashi Nakajima created live street art for the “Streets of Osaka” raffle benefitting the Human Rights Campaign.

Local artist Takashi Nakajima created live street art for the “Streets of Osaka” raffle benefitting the Human Rights Campaign.

Can’t Get Enough Street Food?

Every Monday starting at 4pm, Chef Yo fries up a fresh batch of karaage. For $8, the dish is available at the Zentan bar until the Japanese fried chicken is gone for the evening. For a full dose of Chef Yo’s favorite street foods, guests can order off the kuidaore menu any day of the week. Translating to “spoil oneself with food,” this unique chef tasting experience lasts until the diners say uncle. 

Zentan

1155 14th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 379-4366

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