“2018 is going to be the year of fun.”
This is how Jonathon Stranger started our conversation as we sat down at the large table situated off the corner of the bar in the main room of The Patriarch. Piled on it were bright yellow t-shirts, tightly rolled and secured by a ribbon with an envelope clothespinned to each. Handwritten names and Instagram handles on the envelopes were addressed to followers who had responded to Stranger’s inaugural Instagram post from his new account at @okyaki. The post announced that he would be selling t-shirts adorned with the logo of his new venture and followers could pick up their purchase at the Edmond craft beer bar on a cold Tuesday evening after work.
As fans eagerly lined up to meet Stranger and pick up their new gear I settled in with a hazy IPA, excited to hear about what’s been going on his his life and learn about his newest restaurant.
Stranger has seen a large amount of success with his previous restaurants and has helped shape the Oklahoma food scene with spots like Ludivine, the restaurant that put farm-to-table cuisine on the map here in OKC back in 2010. After Ludivine came R&J Supper Club in 2015, an incredible retro lounge with delicious cocktails and comfort food. In 2016 Stranger left Ludivine and R&J and began focusing on a new pair of concepts in Nichols Hills which became En Croute and St. Mark’s Chop Room, a french inspired bistro and an upscale steakhouse, respectively.
Lately Stranger has been on a mission to simplify his life, focus on his passions, and most importantly, have fun in what he’s doing. His new plan with the owners of The Patriarch is the perfect example.
The new concept is called Ok-Yaki. The restaurant will be taking over the small building that now hosts a satellite bar in the back patio area of The Patriarch. “The shack in the back”, as Stranger refers to it, will be expanded to make room for his new kitchen and work space, and the roofline will be extended to provide more cover for those enjoying The Patriarch’s expansive outdoor space. Ok-Yaki will feature Yakitori, a Japanese style of food based around skewered chicken traditionally enjoyed as a street food, or by hungry bar patrons along side beer or saki. However, in Stranger’s typical fashion, he’s not stopping at chicken. The menu will feature up to 18 different options including a variety of meats and vegetables as well as something he referred to as a “White Castle version” of Yakitori, which is really all I needed to hear before wanting to give him all my money. This version will showcase the same ingredients as on the skewers, just in slider form for those who need a little extra help in soaking up all the beer in their stomachs.
The food will be prepared using a traditional Yakitori grill and Binchōtan charcoal from Japan, most likely positioned on a small porch built out from the building. The price per skewer will range from just $1.50 to $6, making the food incredibly accessable which means I’ll be able to blow through the whole menu in just a few visits, which is the type of accomplishment I was born for.
It was a real pleasure hanging out with Jonathon Stranger and discussing his plans, we are grateful for his time and can’t wait to taste what he’s grilling in that little shack. Look for Ok-Yaki to launch sometime around early March and make sure to follow The Patriarch (@PatriarchEdmond on Instagram and Twitter), Ok-Yaki (@okyaki on Instagram), and us (@barrelsandmash) for updates.