At the end of October, diners at New York restaurant Sushi Ginza Onodera could have ended their 19-course meal with a pair of whole strawberries. They are presented to the diners as the dessert course, placed in a silver-flecked glass bowl without anything added. But these juicy, aromatic, and tender strawberries are not the typical supermarket or even farmers market variety.
These are “Omakase berries,” a specialty fruit from a Kearny, New Jersey-based company called Oishii. “The sweetness is completely different — I knew with my first bite I had found a berry on a different level,” head chef Suzuki says. “The texture, then the burst of sweetness are such a pleasure that I decided to serve the strawberry whole as a dessert, not even cut.”
Suzuki is not the only chef to feature them. Some of New York’s top chefs are embracing the fruit, which are grown in a vertical farm and come from Japanese seeds brought to the New York area by Oishii’s co-founder and CEO Hiroki Koga, an agriculture consultant and entrepreneur originally from Tokyo. They’ve also appeared recently at restaurants like Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Atomix, and Sushi Yasuda, as well as at esteemed pastry shop Dominique Ansel Bakery.