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Unique tastes set Yokozuna apart as OKC’s newest sushi, Pan-Asian restaurant

Heide Brandes / Red Dirt Report
The 405 and Roll and Gift roll.
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McNellie’s Group opens award-winning concept at Chisholm Creek

OKLAHOMA CITY – Jorge Palacios, head chef at Oklahoma City’s newest sushi and Pan-Asian concept restaurant Yokozuna, is cradling a giant salmon like a baby.

It’s a gorgeous fish, bullet gray and silver as a sterling spoon, its skin as shimmering like the surface of a sunny lake. Flown in from Hawaii or California, the salmon becomes part of the fresh and boutique menu selection at Yokozuna, which opened its doors Oct. 24 at the new Chisholm Creek development at Western Avenue and Memorial Road.

With a swift swoosh of a knife, the head comes off the salmon and the fish is sliced open to become either sashimi or part of the many handcrafted, custom-crafted sushi rolls at Yokozuna. Pair the Roll and Gift roll with its smoky-eel flavor with the red sake offered at the bar, and you’ll have a taste combination that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Head Chef Jorge Palacios prepares salmon fresh every morning for dishes.

“We really try to take sushi and make it relatable,” said Managing Partner Matt Leland. “We aren’t ‘dumbing it down,’ but we try to take the pretensiousness out of sushi and cater to the diner who just wants to have a great meal and have fun.”

Tulsa-based McNellie’s Group opened the award-winning Yokozuna’s third location in Oklahoma City after its success with the two already operating in the Tulsa area. Recently, its downtown Tulsa location was honored nationally with a spot on OpenTable’s 2016 “100 Hottest Restaurants in America” list. 

For the most part, the menu items are displayed in English terms and is easy to understand. Instead of saying “unagi,” the restaurant uses the term “eel.” Instead of saying “Ikura,” the restaurant uses “salmon roe.” In addition, Yokozuna is also geared toward the distinctive personality of Oklahoma. It doesn’t try to be New York sushi, though the management and chefs visited and learned best practices from restaurants all over the country.          

“We also offer choices that resonate in this area that may not resonate in places like the east or west coasts,” said Leland. “For instance, we have chipotle cream cheese. Everyone here knows chipotle, but the coastal places may not. We cater to Oklahoma – that’s who we are. We go off our gut instinct when coming up with new rolls. We tinker around and try things that create something special.”

General Manager Jamie Swain and Managing Partner Matt Leland.

In addition to sushi and rolls, Yokozuna has a variety of Asian-inspired entrées such as Ramen Bowls, Pad Thai, Pork Belly Tacos, Sweet & Sour Chicken, K.C. Strip with Wasabi Butter, and General Tso’s Chicken.

Nothing but the ice cream is ordered frozen – the apps, the sauces and the entrees are all made in-house every morning. Because of that, a unique freshness is infused in each dish.

“When you have good food and good service, that’s what sets you apart,” Leland said. “We also offer unique twists to your typical menu items.”

Yokozuna’s Roll and Gift roll (like Roland Gift, lead singer of the Fine Young Cannibals) offers a delightfully rich smoky eel flavor that’s made even more intriguing by a sauce that combines eel sauce and Sriracha. Made with tempura fried shrimp, chipotle cream cheese and blackened eel, the roll is both lovely to behold and even better to eat.

Roll and Gift roll.

One of the restaurant’s signature salads, the Mish Mash, was the brainchild of an employee. Its base is sushi rice and seaweed salad with a combination of fish, but the gorgeous taste comes from the truffle oil that the salmon and yellowfin tuna is tossed in.

The 405 Roll is a fresh selection that’s topped with fresh avocado, and the Hot Mess combines crab, chipotle cream cheese and jalapeno before it is deep fried and topped with tuna, crab, spicy mayo and wontons.

“If it’s your first visit, I would suggest starting with the pan-seared gyoza. From the kitchen, try the pork belly ramen and then either try the Mish Mash, the Hot Mess or the Roll and Gift from the sushi bar,” Leland said.

The restaurant will also offer a more traditional-style brunch menu on Saturday and Sundays, plus discounted sushi rolls and appetizers during daily happy hours from 2 to 5 p.m.

Sushi Chef Pau Gin prepares rolls for Yokozuna.

“We also have a wide variety of sake and signature cocktails,” said Leland.

The rooftop patio at Yokozuna is set to open in approximately a month. Yokozuna’s neighbors on the east end of the Chisholm Creek development already include Top Golf, iFly, Cabela’s, Republic Gastropub, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar, plus several retail shops and offices.

“It is a fantastic looking restaurant, and by far our largest Yokozuna,” Leland said. “We are especially happy with the way our rooftop dining area and bar turned out. In fact, I think the rooftop will become one of the most unique places to eat and drink in all of North Oklahoma City.”

Yokozuna at Chisholm Creek has seating for more than 200 guests, with a main dining room, bar, sushi bar, mezzanine, and ground floor patio.  In addition, there is also a private room that can accommodate up to 45 people for meetings, private events, or even sumo wrestling watch parties, since the term yokozuna is a direct reference to the sports highest rank. A rooftop deck is currently under construction and will open at a later date. 

Additional information about Yokozuna Chisholm Creek, including maps, menus and more, can be found atwww.yokozunasushi.com.

About McNellie’s Group 

Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, McNellie’s Group was formed in 2004, employs more than 700 people and operates 17 restaurant, bar and entertainment concepts in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman. Tulsa properties include The Colony, Dilly Diner, Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, Elgin Park, El Guapo’s Cantina Downtown, El Guapo’s Cantina on Harvard, Fassler Hall, McNellie’s Downtown, McNellie’s South City, The Tavern, Yokozuna and Yokozuna on Yale. Most recently the company opened Bond Event Center, a 12,000 square foot event center in downtown Tulsa. Visit www.mcnelliesgroup.com for more information about the McNellie’s Group.

Photos by Red Dirt Report's Heide Brandes.

Yokozuna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Yokozuna
13230 Pawnee Dr #100
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
Phone: (405) 500-1020
http://yokozunasushi.com

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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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