'Mamacita' Begets 'Mamanoko' As Owners Pivot From Mexico To Japan

Mamanoko (2317 Chestnut St.)—a new Japanese izakaya-style restaurant and sushi bar from the team behind eateries Umami, Tipsy Pig, Padrecito and Blue Barn—has quietly opened for business in the former Mamacita space. 

The project, led by co-owners Stryker Scales and Sam Josi, grew out of a desire to bring something different to the neighborhood after the closing of Mamacita, Scales told Hoodline over the phone. 

"We had a solid 12 years there and we were ready to bring something new to the street that was heavily desired in the area," he said.

Noting the closing of Umami on Union Street, which shuttered last year due to lease difficulties, "We knew that Japanese and the offerings that Sam was able to put together was something that was desired in the neighborhood, and we're happy we had the opportunity to do it again," Scales said. 

While Mamanoko—which translates to "mother's child" in Japanese—opened last week, "we are opening very softly, very quietly," Scales said. "We want to get our feet wet and make sure that our quality of food, cocktails and service is dialed in before running it full steam." 

As for why the pair chose to open a Japanese restaurant serving sushi and izakaya fare, Scales said Josi was inspired by time he spent in Japan. "He has always had a desire to cook Japanese food and appreciates the culture and the country." 

The sushi and izakaya program is led by chef Taka Iwamoto with Timothy Cosgrove as bar manager. Cosgrove has worked with the team at several of the owner's restaurants for the last five years. 

The izakaya menu features a variety of small plates like ahi poke with sesame, macadamia nuts, Maui onion topped with gyoza crisps; tataki with albacore tuna, crispy shallots and ginger-oroshi ponzu; chicken or pork gyoza; and tonkatsu sliders (breaded kurobuta pork loin, tonkatsu sauce with mustard slaw).

The sushi menu is extensive, featuring traditional nigiri and sashimi options along with standbys like Alaska king salmon with avocado, cucumber with sesame and California rolls. 

In addition to the full menu and a selection of house rolls like the "Wiki Wiki" (spicy ahi tuna, tobiko, avocado & kaiware/albacore tuna, ponzu, crispy garlic oil and scallions), he plans to add omakase (chef's choice) offerings in the future. 

The bar offers an array of Japanese whiskey, as well as signature cocktails, sake, and ten Japanese beers. 

Currently, Mamanoko is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, 5:30–10pm, but Scales said he plans to extend weekend hours to Sunday and add lunch service in the coming months. 

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Mamacita begets mamanoko as owners pivot from mexico to japan