Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

New sushi, seafood market to bring the oysters to Pearl Street

The sushi empire that has helped shape the Old South Pearl Street restaurant scene is expanding its presence.

Den Deli and Seafood Market plans to open Nov. 15 in the shadow of its sister sushi restaurants that dominate the intersection of Florida Avenue and South Pearl Street — Sushi Den and Izakaya Den.

The new store aims to expand the dining concepts of the other two, principally with grab-and-go offerings that let customers replicate the sushi experience at home.

“You grab something and go eat it in the park for lunch or you can take it and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home,” says Christopher Dunphy, Izakaya Den’s general manager, who is heading construction and development for owner Toshi Kizaki.

The Den Deli concept has four prongs, Dunphy says.

First, it will be a seafood market, selling sushi-quality fish flown in daily from a market in southern Japan and owned by Kizaki’s brother. Offerings will include exotic species of fish as well as salmon, tuna, squid, shellfish and shrimp, depending on availability. “I’m sure we’ll have fresh sea urchins on occasion,” he says. “It depends on what we get in.”

Second, Den Deli will have a selection of ready-made sushi and prepared foods made by Sushi Den and Izakaya Den chefs. Rotating daily, the offerings will be similar to those at the other two restaurants but not as extensive.

Third will be a Japanese-style ramen noodle bar in a dining area of 16–20 seats. “You’ll be able to order ramen, wait a few minutes, pick it up, sit down and eat it, someone cleans your table and you’re done,” Dunphy says. Kizaki has been traveling to Japan to perfect the stocks and techniques used in Ramen noodle preparation so the noodle bar is as authentic as possible.

Den Deli’s fourth aspect will give customers the chance to buy quality sake sets, chopsticks, soy dishes and platters for serving Japanese cuisine at home. Sake and Japanese beer also will be offered.

Dunphy emphasizes that Den Deli is not a take-out restaurant. The prepared items will be dishes designed to be reheated or finished with a bit of cooking at home as a way of ensuring quality.

All this unfolds inside a renovated 103-year-old building where, most recently, Seams Like Olde Times sold costumes. The red-brick storefront entrance faces the intersection of Florida and Pearl from the southwest corner but has an address of 540 E. Florida Ave. Dunphy says the shop will have the flavor of a turn-of-the-century seafood market plus “new cool stuff as well.”

Pulling that off means renovating the building to its original hardwood floors and interior brick, exposing woodwork in the rafters and adding 100-year-old lighting fixtures purchased from an old hotel. All this is aimed at serving customers quickly and putting them in greater command of their sushi experience.

“We’re not here to tell people how to enjoy food,” Dunphy emphasizes. “If you want to take home a little kit and make your own sushi, excellent. We’ll sell you the wasabi and the ginger and nori and sushi rice and you can go home and play. If you want us to do that for you, we’ll do that as well. And if you want to take home a great piece of fish and throw it on the grill, we’re OK with that, too.”

Den Deli expects to be open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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