Chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Sarah Gavigan announces she is repurposing the Little Octopus space into Bar Otaku: A Japanese Izakaya, set to open Saturday, January 12.
Located in the Gulch at 505 12th Ave. S., Bar Otaku intends to honor the spirit of a traditional Japanese izakaya, serving a wide variety of Japanese soul food at approachable prices, in an environment designed for unwinding with friends after a long day’s work. The new Japanese izakaya will offer dinner and late-night service, and will be open daily from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m.
Menu selections will begin with otsumani (snacks) like lotus chips with furikake, smoked grilled chicken wings with tare glaze, and smoked tofu lettuce wraps. Seafood and raw options will include Yellowtail sashimi with frizzled herbs, salmon with hot-spiced sesame oil, and temaki hand rolls. Rice and broiled sections of the menu have options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, with dishes from taco rice to vegetable curry and university potatoes with shoyu, honey, and black sesame.
From the fried and grilled sections, menu highlights include kara-age fried chicken with Kewpie mayo, tonkatsu fried and breaded pork cutlet with shaved cabbage; grilled squid with ginger soy; and skirt steak with miso mustard.
The beverage program at Bar Otaku will focus on beer, sake, and soju, offering Japanese and domestic beers, cup and large format sake, and a distinct Japanese whiskey collection for highballs or straight-sipping.
Bar Otaku will serve as an extension of Nashville native Gavigan’s popular Otaku community and an attempt to unify the popular brand which helped introduce the art of ramen to Music City.
The renovated space will offer communal seating, private booths, dark walls, and light wood, allowing the Otaku-style art and illustrations (from local graffiti artists and artists from around the world) to shine. The 2,700-square-foot space has 103 seats, including 9 at the bar and 10 at the chef’s counter.
Little Octopus got its start in the East Nashville POP space, and opened in The Gulch in 2016 — where it became a popular destination for tapas in stunning digs. The final day of service as Little Octopus was New Year’s Day.
“We’ve had a blast with Little Octopus and appreciate all of the love and support we’ve received over the past two years. Now that we are more familiar with the neighborhood and the needs of the city, it’s simply the right time for a change,” says Gavigan. “We’re fully invested in the Otaku community and have seen the growth of the brand and culture move quickly, so this was the natural next step for us. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to open an izakaya in Nashville.”