Chef and musician Yoshi Okai is a dynamic creator with a contagious laugh and eccentric energy. He has a passion for listening to psychedelic rock and creating an experience for the lucky 12 guests that are able to reserve a seat in his restaurant, Otoko located at the South Congress Hotel. Many Austin foodies know him as the "Sushi Gangster" around town. In 2017, he was named one of Food and Wine's best new chefs in the country.
When Okai arrived in Austin almost a decade ago, he said he fell in love with the Austin music scene. He joined a garage band that evolved into a punk band called The Kodiaks. He embellished his body artfully with tattoos and has embraced the music culture of the city. Currently he plays with a band called Kuroneko (Black Cat) where he leads vocals.
During our time together, Okai chopped up a Tuna fish, showed me his unique trinkets around his kitchen space, and the blend of musical instruments to his well-crafted instruments he uses in the kitchen like his knife set from Japan. One of his most coveted knives has a tiny, engraved blowfish on the handle. He cares and sharpens for his knives daily explaining that a properly sharpened knife is a balanced one as he showed the knife standing steady and upright.
There is a parallel between creating an experience fo people enjoying his food and his music. With craft, creativity and high energy, Okai is a treasure of Austin for his range of talents.