Ona, a new bento sushi bar, opens on Roman Road and blends its owner’s Mongolian and Japanese heritage.
A new Japanese sushi bar, Ona’s Bento Sushi Bar, opened on Roman Road on 20 February.
The owners of Ona, Oyun Sukhbaatar, and her husband Gerelt-Od Lkhagva, bought the premises at the end of 2020 and have spent the last year renovating it. She said: ‘We bought it in shell condition, nothing was in there. We did everything from the toilet, storage, to kitchen. It was hard work.’
Sukhbaatar, who lives on Alfred Road in Bow with her husband and daughter, said she choose Roman Road for its ‘energetic’ feel and strong community spirit.
For lunch or dinner, Ona serves traditional Japanese bento boxes that include assorted sashimi (a mixture of tuna, cuttlefish, and seabream), with vegetables, and rice. Also on the menu is donburi (a rice bowl) with either a choice of fish or chicken katsu, and udon noodles. For those seeking a smaller meal or snack, Ona serves rolled sushi, or spicey tuna or prawn tempura.
The restaurant’s supplier is T&S Enterprises, a company that supplies fish to plush West End restaurants, including Ikeda and Umu, both in Mayfair, and three Michelin starred restaurant, The Araki in Soho.
And, with a high concentration of coffee lovers in the area, Ona sells coffee from Japanese coffee brand, Ueshima.
Originally from Mongolia, but with a Japanese grandmother, Sukhbaatar is keen to blend her heritage. Ona’s logo, which Sukhbaatar designed herself, is of a sumo wrestler. While it may feel more akin to Japanese culture, Sukhbaatar said sumo wrestling is a highly popular sport in Mongolia.
As for the restaurant’s name, Sukhbaatar said Ona is her nickname but that it is also an acronym of ocean, nature, and Apicius. She explained: ‘That was the first thing when we bought this, I was thinking, “this is Roman Road. What kind of food is related to Roman?”.’ Sukhbaatar said she researched and found that the first-ever cookbook Apicius was written 2,000 years ago in Ancient Rome.
Continuing the theme of ocean and nature, Sukhbaatar’s staff wear sea-blue aprons with trimming of fish pattern, and one of the restaurant’s walls is covered in marble which looks like a birds-eye view of a swirling stormy sea. Incidentally, the marble is called ‘ocean’.
Ona is open every Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 9pm.
If you enjoyed this, then read our piece on Greedy’s Fish and Chips in Globe Town.
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