The Corktown neighborhood will welcome a new sustainable sushi concept this fall. Chef/owner Mike Han tells Eater in an exclusive first interview that Itadaku Sushi is slated to fill a renovated storefront at the corner of Trumbull and Bagley in the former Bagley Market building.
Han is working with local firm Patrick Thompson Design on the buildout. The pint-sized 616-square-foot space is expected to seat between 20 and 25 diners with a possibility of expansion onto a patio. "It’s going to be pretty simple," says Han, who’s also an artist. "The focus is really going to be on the food and the art."
In Japanese itadaku means "to enjoy with gratitude" — a message Han hopes to infuse into the ethos of his customer’s sushi experience. "It’s really this deep appreciation for all the things that it takes for food to get to your table," he says. For Han, that appreciation starts with using high-quality, sustainable ingredients.
The chef is working with respected sustainable seafood organizations including the Shedd Aquarium to identify the best products with the least impact on the environment including wild and farmed seafood and organic, pesticide-free produce. He hopes to eventually see Itadaku become certified sustainable by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is considered a leader in the sustainable seafood movement. "People don’t understand that food that’s in front of you comes from somewhere and it comes at a price," he says
Han, who’s worked for high-end sushi restaurants in Los Angeles and Chicago as well as Social Sushi in Detroit, is relatively new to sustainable seafood. "I’m not a Greenpeace kind of person," he says. However, with his own restaurant he’s driven to take responsibility for making sustainable seafood more accessible to consumers. "What if my kids didn’t enjoy sushi the way I enjoyed sushi because I ate too much? It’s something that I won’t be able to live with."
Itadaku is designed as a counter service restaurant with affordable sushi. "My goal is to create a scalable fast-casual spot," he says. "We want to give you a high-quality experience with your food and your drink for under $20 and you feel full." Diners can expect daku maki (based off the Japanese futomaki-style sushi hand roll) served as a roll, a bowl, or a salad, as well as nigiri, and sashimi (preview a sample menu here). Menu items will be available for dine-in or to-go, and, depending on the capacity of the 200-square-foot kitchen, possibly delivery.
Han initially toyed with the idea of creating a fine dining, eight-seat sushi bar, and while that concept is now "on the back burner" the chef still hopes to bring that experience occasionally to Itadaku in the form of monthly fine-dining omakase pop-ups.
Itadaku is expected to enter Hatch Detroit this summer and, depending on their success, may launch a kickstarter. Regardless, Han expects that the design and build for the restaurant will happen "pretty aggressively." He adds, "We’re hoping that construction and everything will be done by September or October," with the goal of a November 1 opening. Keep an eye out for pop-ups in the meantime.
- Itadaku Sushi Website [Official]
- Itadaku Sushi Instagram [Official]
- Itadaku Sushi Facebook [Official]
- All Coming Attractions Coverage [ED]