Chef Yanaga offers new sushi concepts

Eddy Marenco

This weekend marks the launch of an all-new sushi concept, and it comes from one man who has had his hand in plenty of rolled recipes.

Izakaya by Yanaga in Fishtown officially launches for a preview this Labor Day weekend starting Thursday and running through Saturday before taking a brief break over the holiday. The venue will then open officially on Sept. 9. According to the release, the new restaurant will have two concepts under one roof: First up, on Sept. 2, Izakaya by Yanaga will open their doors as a more casual, neighborhood experience with a menu focusing on affordable small plates, hot and cold dishes, and a comfortable vibe. Later in the fall, Philadelphians can look for the second more upscale concept Omakase by Yanaga to open with a chef’s tasting room that seats 12 with higher-end items, dishes not done currently in Philadelphia, and direct access to Chef.

Izakaya by Yanaga comes from Glu Hospitality.

“I am proud to team up with Glu Hospitality for my very first restaurant,” said Yanaga in a statement. “The restaurant will feature two separate and unique concepts under the same roof. Izakaya by Yanaga will offer a more casual dining and bar experience for locals, catering to the surrounding neighborhood and repeat customers. When it is ready, Omakase will offer a higher end dining experience that is more upscale, personalized and intimate. There will be a higher price point with expanded sake and Japanese scotch and whiskey program, plus exclusive cocktails paired with the offerings.”

Eddy Marenco

The 2,500 square feet of space will house both concepts side by side. Izakaya will operate in the front bar and front dining room with around 60 seats, with Omakase to operate in the private dining room in the back located through the double doors in the middle of the restaurant.

For Izakaya, which opens first, the cuisine will focus on a concept that will feature “traditional dishes plus Yanaga’s modernized twist on the classics” in the form of a mix of hot and cold, cooked and raw, and small and large plates. As the release states, the hot section of the menu will showcase the same expertise and attention to detail as the sushi and raw side of the menu. Dining and kitchen service will be free-flowing, whereas guests are encouraged to order a number of small and large plates to enjoy and share. The culinary team will prepare an ebb and flow for the dishes, and send them out as prepared to create an experience that is unique for every visit.

The bar at Izakaya will feature unique sake options (that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Philly), hand-crafted cocktails that use ingredients from the kitchen to optimize pairings of food, six beer and cider beers, Japanese beers, locally made craft beers, unique ciders, seltzers, wine and a few American favorites.

Yanaga brings over 10 years of experience working in a variety of top sushi spots including Izakaya at Borgata, Double Knot, Pod, Morimoto and Zama working with Stephen Starr, Michael Schulson. Yanaga was born in California but raised in Japan, Kevin Yanaga got his start in professional cooking in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. As the release states though his home city sits on Tokyo Bay, a short distance south from the bustling capital, the longtime sushi chef found his earliest work in kitchens, manning the burners in a series of Izakayas, or casual pubs before moving on and making waves in the City of Brotherly Love. Hence the name.

Eddy Marenco

But to open this new concept, the all-star sushi chef also has some help.

According to the release, for his Chef de Cuisine, Yanaga has tapped Tom LoMonte, who most recently came from Zama Restaurant. LaMonte is excited to showcase his own takes on traditional Japanese cuisine, while working side by side with Chef Yanaga to offer both experiences with casual to elevated options. Yanaga and LoMonte worked side-by-side to execute Chef’s vision for the Izakaya menu, with selections that are both traditional as well as more modernized delicacies. The menu features Yanaga’s favorite dishes, that include his take on ramen, dumplings and several raw dishes (sushi, sashimi, nigri). The menu also features vegan and vegetarian offerings, with other dishes to come in the future.

For more information on  Izakaya by Yanaga and soon to open Omasake by Yanaga, visit

More from our Sister Sites