April 22, 2021


All Things Delicious

His 4 restaurants are closed, but Oakland chef Chikara Ono is nonetheless hectic

6 min read
Because of to the pandemic, Oakland restaurateur Chikara Ono closed the doors at AS B-Dama, Delage, Masabaga and Utzutzu, but the chef has been in a position to continue to keep serving his foods through a partnership at Berkeley Bowl West until eventually he can reopen his restaurants. Image: Momo Chang

Chikara Ono has brought some of the very best Japanese cuisine to the East Bay, with dining places like AS B-Dama, Delage and Masabaga in Oakland and Utzutzu in Alameda. Through the pandemic, all of Ono’s brick-and-mortar places to eat have absent dark. But the Oakland-centered Japanese American chef has remained hectic, starting off new concepts and internet hosting pop-ups at Berkeley Bowl West featuring foods from his briefly closed places to eat.

Initially from Kyushu, Japan, Ono moved to the U.S. in 1986. He was a pupil at the time and worked as a cook at a restaurant in the South Bay. He later graduated from neighborhood higher education and went back to Japan, doing the job in classic Japanese kaiseki restaurants for quite a few a long time. 

Ono moved back to the Bay Space in the mid-‘90s, when his previous boss questioned him to return and function at Kisaku, a now-closed Japanese restaurant in San Mateo. He labored as a chef there for additional than 10 decades, just before choosing to open his have cafe in Oakland. Ono co-established and co-owned Geta close to Piedmont Avenue for additional than five yrs. (He is no more time included with Geta.)

In 2012, Ono opened B-Dama, an izakaya cafe on Piedmont Avenue. Two a long time afterwards, it moved and turned a counter-company izakaya at Swan’s Market in Outdated Oakland, in which Ono altered its name to AS B-Dama. In 2016, he introduced his tasteful, cozy omakase cafe Delage to Swan’s. Two a long time later on, he opened Utzutzu, an okimari (established meal) restaurant in Alameda on Park Street in the little, upstairs house that the moment housed Yume Sushi. And ultimately, in July 2020, he partnered with Michelin-starred sushi chef Masa Sasaki to convey fast-informal Japanese burger and sandwich cafe Masabaga to Uptown Oakland.

Restaurateur Chikara Ono prepares sushi at Berkeley Bowl. Photo: Momo Chang
Restaurateur Chikara Ono prepares sushi at Berkeley Bowl West. Image: Momo Chang

When shelter-in-place orders compelled places to eat to close their doorways and do takeout only, Ono modified system on his companies, numerous that concentrated on on-web page, complete-provider eating. He turned to Berkeley Bowl, in which he’s experienced a a long time-prolonged performing partnership providing prepared-made sushi, bentos and onigiri at the market’s two spots. At Berkeley Bowl West’s cafe, Ono started giving takeout variations of his substantial-excellent, chef’s selection sushi, sashimi and very hot food items from Delage. 

In the past year, Ono established two pop-up concepts that he’s also presented by Berkeley Bowl West: Dela Curo, showcasing dishes made with his savory Japanese black curry sauce, and Sundo, a Japanese milk-bread sandwich concept.  

Ono will do a single final March pop-up at Berkeley Bowl West this 7 days, from Thursday, March 25, by Saturday, March 27. He’ll provide a confined menu from Delage of premium nigiri sushi ($45), chirashi ($35), O-toro (bluefin tuna belly) tataki ($20) and wagyu beef tataki ($25). Pickup is from 4-7 p.m. on those people days, and pre-buying is out there as a result of the Delage website. Ono explained he will possible carry on the Berkeley Bowl pop-up in April, but it is nonetheless to be decided.

One thing is for absolutely sure: Followers of Ono’s restaurants know that whichever food tasks he’s at the rear of will probably style excellent. Here’s a run-down of what’s taking place at all of his places to eat:

AS B-Dama

Sashimi set at AS B-Dama in Old Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han
AS B-Dama, which served izakaya fare at Swan’s Industry, has shut, but owner Chikara Ono plans to carry two new concepts to the area. Photograph: Sarah Han

Well known counter-assistance izakaya AS B-Dama at Swan’s Market is closed. Ono ideas to transform the kiosk into an outpost for his pop-ups Dela Curo and Sundo (see down below for specifics) in the coming months. AS B-Dama was at 907 Washington St. (at Ninth Street), Oakland. Follow AS B-Dama Instagram for updates.


Ono plans to re-open up his omakase restaurant Delage for outdoor dinin this summer, but in the meantime, has been presenting his high quality, chef-chosen sushi at Berkeley Bowl West. Video nevertheless: Melati Citrawireja

Omakase cafe Delage is presently shut at Swan’s Current market, but Ono and chef Mikiko Ando are offering their chef-chosen sushi and dishes for a constrained time at Berkeley Bowl West. Order by the Delage website for pickup. Ono aims to carry back outside dining at Swan’s Marketplace in the coming months. Delage, 536 Ninth St. (concerning Clay and Washington), Oakland. Abide by Delage on Instagram for updates.


Utzutzu, an eight-seat, upstairs omikiri restaurant in Alameda, served multi-system meals of cooked dishes and sushi. It is at the moment closed due to its smaller dimensions, but Ono hopes to reopen the restaurant this summer months. Images: Sarah Han

Ono briefly closed Utzutzu, his eight-seater omikiri restaurant in Alameda, because of to it staying in a modest upstairs area. Having said that, Ono hopes to re-open up this summertime, depending on the condition of the pandemic. (Former Utzutzu sushi chef Joji Nonaka started out his personal omakase-model sushi pop-up identified as Sushi Salon.) Utzutzu, 1428 B Park St. (in close proximity to Santa Clara Avenue), Alameda. Abide by Utzutzu on Instagram for updates.


Masabaga’s signature fried tuna tummy sandwich with black sesame tapioca cracker and potato salad. Ono aims to reopen Masabaga this summer for out of doors dining.

Uptown Oakland rapid-everyday location Masabaga, which specializes in fried toro (tuna belly) sandwiches and wagyu burgers opened in the midst of the pandemic, but experienced to near. Ono co-founded this place with Masa Sasaki — who was the opening chef at Delage and is one of the Bay Area’s most highly regarded sushi cooks. Before shutting its doors, Ono examined some curry dishes and sandwiches as a pop-up at this locale. He is hoping to re-open Masabaga this summer with outdoor patio eating. Masabaga, 2022 Telegraph Ave., (around 21st Street), Oakland. Follow Masabaga on Instagram for updates.

Dela Curo

Ono’s pop-up Dela Curo focuses on dishes showcasing Kanakawa-fashion black curry. He programs to convey Dela Curo to Swan’s Industry this calendar year. Picture: Chikara Ono

Dela Curo is 1 of Ono’s newer concepts he debuted past 12 months. Partnering with a curry business in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture, Dela Curo specializes in black curry, a design and style well-known in Kanazawa, known for its dim hue, prosperous taste and thick regularity. Ono adds ground chicken or beef and other spices and veggies to his black curry sauce, which he ladles more than rice, fried rooster or pork cutlets, spaghetti noodles, rice omelets and much more. The chef intermittently provides Dela Curo at Berkeley Bowl West, where it routinely sells out. He strategies to provide Dela Curo to Swan’s Market this yr in the former AS B-Dama place. Adhere to Dela Curo on Instagram for updates. 


Fruit sandwiches from Sundo. Photo: Momo Chang
Fruit sandwiches from Sundo, a pop-up that Ono options to convey to Swan’s Current market this yr. Image: Momo Chang

Sundo is a Japanese sandwich idea, making use of thick, smooth, fluffy milk bread from Japanese bread firm Pasco. Fruit sandwiches are mildly sweet, crammed with fresh whipped product, often purple bean or matcha flavored, and new fruit this kind of as strawberries and kiwi. Savory sandwiches consist of Japanese egg salad or katsu. Ono emphasizes that Sundo sandwiches are additional of a snack or dessert than a food. He plans to provide this notion, paired with Dela Curo, to the previous AS B-Dama spot at Swan’s Market. Stick to Sundo on Instagram for updates.

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