Obon's stylish interior uses wood finishings for a modern look.
There isn’t any sushi in downtown Tucson since On a Roll closed off Congress Street in July and there definitely isn’t any ramen. But that’s all about to change with Goodness Juice Bar owner Brandon Katz’s newest venture. Obon, a casual Japanese fusion dining spot located in the former Gio Taco space, will offer both ramen and sushi, but that’s just part of the story.
Katz says the name Obon comes from a traditional Japanese Buddhist festival celebrating family and your ancestors that includes drinking, dancing, eating and more. Similarly, Katz says his new restaurant is designed to draw large parties with “family style” Japanese fare.
In the kitchen, Paulo Im crafted a menu featuring three ramen options, nine specialty sushi rolls, a menu of traditional and modern nigiri, crudos, steam buns, noodles, salads, limited entrees, tempura and even bibimbop. The ramen is available with traditional tonkotsu (pork), shoyu (soy) or the house ramen, which offers a blend of both broths. The rolls blend veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, avocado, cucumber and more with fresh fish and shellfish.
“I’m excited to get back into sushi because sushi is what I know,” Katz says, referring to his work with Ra Sushi in the past.
Katz says the restaurant will also cater to late night crowds with a limited menu running until midnight and a walk-up to go ramen option available on the weekends until 2:30 a.m. He also wanted to draw the business crowd in with happy hour
“Downtown has been missing a place for a light bite,” he says. “We’ll be able to offer a cocktail and a snack.”
Behind the bar, Katz enlisted former Scott & Co. bartender and ex-sushi chef Matt Martinez to create a list of cocktail offerings that could both be executed quickly but still offer unique and inventive flavors. One such option is the housemade shiso green apple soda with shochu, which will be available bottled and on tap. A list of sake, Japanese and Taiwanese whisky and classic ramen-paired beers Kirin will also be available.
“What I’m really focusing on is creating a unique and personalized experience for each guest at the bar,” Martinez says. “That and offering a comprehensive spirit list that made sense with the menu.”
Obon will open at 350 E. Congress St. at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, just two days before the Obon celebration kicks off in Japan. For about a week, Obon will only be open for dinner, but after that, you can stop in to try out the new casual in vibe, upscale in décor spot for lunch as well.
“This corner desperately needed a Japanese restaurant,” Katz says. “We’re excited to be here because it’s the gateway to downtown.”
Check out the Obon menu:
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect new information regarding Obon's hours.