JJapanese food lovers looking for a lunchtime treat in Westchester can now take advantage of a Rye-based restaurant that recently expanded its opening hours to accommodate afternoon diners.
OKO Rye is a Japanese-inspired restaurant under the Full House Hospitality Group brand and the second restaurant to carry the OKO name, preceded by the Westport location in Fairfield County. Full House Hospitality Group is chef Brian Lewis’ flagship brand, which also includes The Cottage in Westport and Greenwich.
“Being from Westchester myself, with lots of family in Rye and neighboring New Rochelle, I’ve always had my eyes on the beautiful town of Rye for my next location,” Lewis said.
Located in downtown Rye near the Square House Museum and Town Hall, OKO Rye opened in 2019 and is led by General Manager Marissa Buster, a restaurant and hospitality service veteran. companies, head chef Fecedio Douglas and executive sushi chef Benny Chow, a recent addition to the team. Chow has 20 years of experience, including at Morimoto in Philadelphia and Nobu in New York, as well as owner of Ki Asian Bistro & Sushi in Danbury.
In addition to Chow’s arrival, the Japanese-inspired restaurant changed its schedule, changing last month from a dinner-only venue to one that now offers a lunch menu; the restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
“Once we opened the original OKO in Westport, Connecticut, we knew we had something very special that our customers really loved and appreciated,” Lewis said. “The ability to replicate that model, while allowing the second site to have its own identity and creativity, was key for us.”
The lunch menu is divided into seven categories: nigiri sushi, sashimi, vegetable tempura, hand rolls, OKOPoke, bento boxes, hot and cold. From the nigiri sushi category, one can dine on cedar-smoked black cod, a dish that includes crispy beets and horseradish. The hot and cold category includes dishes such as shishito peppers and soft-shell crab tempura sando, a dish made with lime miso aioli, cucumber kimchi and lotus chips.
OKO Rye has six varieties of hand rolls to offer guests, including ora king spicy salmon. Customers have a choice of three sashimi dishes, including a sashimi salad, made with avocado, crispy quinoa and sesame ponzu. For drinks, customers can choose from 10 categories, including sake, wines, cocktails, soft drinks and tea.
A specialty at OKO Rye is the Lychee Limeade, made with lychee, lime and club soda. The drink pairs well with the red king crab from the nigiri sushi section, a dish made with red miso and yuzu citrus aioli, fresh green onions and pulled gochujang butter. Although presentation is not the first thing people look for when selecting a dish, the sushi dish nevertheless reflects the culinary art of the OKO Rye team.
For a main course, one would do well to choose from the four dishes in the bento box category, which include teriyaki chicken thighs, teriyaki king salmon, red mushroom miso maitake, and Wagyu ground beef. This latter dish has a hanging Wagyu beef tenderloin as its centerpiece and, like the other bento boxes, is served with miso soup, Koshihikari rice, edamame, vegetable tempura and teriyaki sauce with garlic and ginger/miso aioli.
For dessert, customers have a choice of a waffle cone or sundae, a chOKOchip cookie, a matcha Kit-Kat, and a gooey ooey chocolate cake. The Kit-Kat Matcha Plate comes with two Kit-Kat wafer bars covered in ceremonial-grade matcha and white chocolate. A more voluminous dessert to top off a meal would be the gooey ooey chocolate cake, filled with vanilla bean custard and flanked with black and white sesame praline, served with vanilla bean ice cream.