OBON: Sushi and Serenity

by Mike Hunter

Dozens of gilt-colored cat figurines wave a choreographed greeting to patrons at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen, which recently added another Scottsdale location in McCormick Ranch. The décor otherwise is the epitome of simplicity, geometric lines from the table arrangement to chairs, along with chromatic neutrality of dark grey tiles and light woods, creating a sense of calm. Located in the charming shopping center of The Grove, the restaurant features slide-away window walls that open it out to 1,600 square feet of shaded patio.

Sushi and the menu’s varied other dishes are prepared in the large open kitchen. There is a bar along one wall — not for sushi but for cocktail creations. And décor accessories on the shelves behind it provide a different kind of lift with the whimsy of boxed Nintendo and Atari toys and cultural icons of busts of Buddha. Buddha, in fact, gives background for the restaurant name, which was inspired by an annual Buddhist event in Japan — the Obon Festival.

The menu offers traditional Japanese fare along with Korean-influenced dishes such as chilled kimchi noodles with pickled daikon and king oyster mushrooms. The sushi gets high marks for the fish’s freshness, with super-sticky rice that holds the composition together. The spicy tuna roll has a bit of a bite — as one should expect. Slider-style steam buns can be ordered with spam, barbecued jackfruit, fried chicken or sweet pork belly. Chicken salad is a colorful assortment of greens, red cabbage, carrot, scallions, noodles, sesame seeds, sweetly glazed nuts and large chunks of chicken, lightly dressed with a mustard vinaigrette. Lunch specials include a richly flavorful miso soup and a side salad topped with crispy onion “crumbles.” And there are luncheon specials that are not on the regular menu, which include a sashimi assortment.

In fact, Chef Paulo Im created some items to be unique to The Grove location to add to OBON’s regular menu array of shareable plates, steamed buns, ramen and sushi.

OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen
15037 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
(602) 491-2796
7300 N. Via Paseo Del Sur, Scottsdale
(623) 295-2002

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