De Novo European Pub in Montclair has a new addition to not only its menu but also the space inside for the New Year. A sushi bar run by a famous local chef, Chef Kenny Mar, formerly of Daikichi, is now located inside De Novo’s restaurant where guests can get an up-close look at his sushi creations. Two months after opening, it has already become a hit. Read on to learn more about De Novo’s expansion in Montclair.
A Perfect Fit
The De Novo x Daikichi collaboration began after the closure of the local Japanese restaurant Daikichi. After 35 years in business at 608 Valley Road, Daikichi announced its closure in September 2023. Owner Aki Kaneda wrote in a statement: “Daikichi will be closing its doors this Saturday, 9/16, after 35 years of business. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make and while we are sad to say goodbye to this era, our family is ready to move on to its next chapter. Thank you for your support, thank you for the wonderful memories created together, thank you for allowing us to build a home here. We are forever grateful. The Kaneda’s.”
After closing, De Novo’s owner Demetri Malki approached Kenny Mar, the former head sushi chef at Daikichi about collaborating. Demetri explained to The Montclair Girl: “Upon learning about Daikichi’s closure after thriving for over 30 years, our hearts sank in sync with the Montclair community’s collective disappointment. The void left by its departure was palpable, compelling me to take action.”
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Demetri ended up connecting with Chef Mar through Nelson Yip, chef, and owner of Wasai Bistro in Cranford, which Demetri calls his favorite local spot near his home. He shared, “Ironically, Chef Kenny Mar was going to meet Nelson the following day for a job opportunity. Fortunately for us, Nelson did not need additional help at Wasai and was happy to refer Kenny to me. Once I spoke to Kenny, he was excited about the opportunity as were we.”
Photo Credit: @denovomontclair
Demetri continued: “He was ecstatic that De Novo was willing and able to build a sushi bar that kept him in his local community and fill the void that Daikichi had left behind. It was a perfect fit for Chef Kenny, the Montclair Community and De Novo! It truly feels like a win all around.”
What’s On The Menu
The sushi menu is available for dining it and taking out. However, there is a fixed menu for those who choose to eat in the restaurant, which Demetri said was to maintain balance and “not overshadow our kitchen staff which has been a pillar in our success.”
The in-house menu remains the same for both lunch and dinner. There are five different sake drinks, eight appetizers, and 12 specialty rolls. Everything is made fresh to order and deliveries for the local ingredients including the fish, arrive daily. Some appetizers include salmon carpaccio, salmon cilantro, fluke carpaccio, tuna taco, and seven pieces of sashimi.
The specialty rolls include a sushi sandwich (tuna, super white tuna, avocado, spicy mayo, tempura crunch, masago and soybean seaweed), Mango Tango roll (shrimp tempura, avocado, mango, spicy mayo), Bad Boy Roll (shrimp tempura, tuna, super white tuna, spicy mayo, wasabi mayo, masago), and Linsanity Roll (spicy salmon, avocado, yellowtail, salmon, sriracha).
Photo Credit: Courtesy of De Novo European Pub
Demetri said the popular items include the Sushi Sandwich, Chef’s Roll, Popeye Roll, Linsanity Roll, and the Yankee Roll. “Customers could not be happier, expressing gratitude for continuing to order their favorite local sushi from De Novo,” the owner added.
Check It Out
The new sushi bar, which officially opened on December 4th, is situated in the front of De Novo, specifically to the left once customers enter. It has taken over the space where a communal table for diners once stood. The bar is led by Chef Kenny Mar and another chef who helps put orders together.
Demetri said that the dining room itself has gotten a “facelift” last year. Apart from the sushi bar, there is fresh paint, new flooring, a custom mural, and a glass enclosure for our outdoor patio.
Photo Credit: @denovomontclair
De Novo has been open since August 2014. Demetri told The Montclair Girl, “In our nearly decade-long presence in Montclair, De Novo has been a cornerstone of success, thanks to our loyal customers and exceptional staff.”
As of now, Demetri said that there are “no immediate plans,” to add a sushi bar to De Novo’s Edgewater location, but, “I won’t rule it out for the future.” The restaurant’s goal, however, for 2024 is “to continue our growth, success, and enjoyment of our loyal community.”
De Novo is located at 275 Bellevue Avenue and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12PM to 3PM for lunch, and 5PM to 10PM for dinner (except Friday and Saturday the dinner hours are 4:30PM to 10:30PM). Sunday’s hours are 4PM to 9PM and the restaurant is closed on Mondays. For more information and to make a reservation, visit De Novo’s website here.