Remember high school house parties and what strange, fun things they could be? Around fourth period, word would start spreading that Zak Pagola’s parents were going out of town that weekend. Different cliques would show up in 35-minute intervals, carrying whatever half-finished bottles of liquor they thought their parents were least likely to realize were missing. And by 10:30, people were dancing dangerously close to Mr. Pagola’s collection of rare golf tees.
Sushi by Bou, the six-seat omakase counter inside the Versace Mansion, feels like a high school house party in mostly the right ways. There are differences for sure - less dancing, no threat of cops showing up, and instead of throwing Ricky $5 for a keg, you’ve got to spend $125 for 17-courses of very good raw fish. But there are similarities too.
The whole operation feels less like a restaurant and more like a small group of sushi chefs broke into a room in the Versace Mansion to run a secret omakase. Everything inside looks like it was set up with three hours notice and can be swiftly removed just in case they get kicked out. And while we wish the bar was a little better equipped (they didn’t even have the ingredients to make a negroni on one of our trips), we don’t mind the informality - and actually prefer it over having a helicopter staff who’d kick us out if we got fingerprints on anything. It’s a smart move to arrive early, grab beer or sake (skip the watery cocktails), and sip on Gianni Versace’s old balcony overlooking Ocean Drive. Because how many chances in life will you have to do that?
Dinner runs on a tight schedule and is timed so that your 17-course omakase will last almost exactly 60 minutes. You might feel slightly rushed having a different piece of sushi placed in front of you every three and a half minutes, but the vibe at the counter is pretty relaxed, considering the setting. Candles light the dim room and a soundtrack of ’90s and early 2000s hip-hop plays from a portable speaker while you watch the chef take a blowtorch to hamachi nigiri or pluck slabs of uni from a box.
This is not world-class sushi, but it is very good sushi that’s better than most places. And unlike a lot of omakase dinners, you won’t leave too full to do anything fun afterward. Bites range from scallop to fatty tuna to a buttery spider prawn we would have really liked to eat twice and, if you’re lucky, the meal will end with an uni/wagyu handroll that’ll make everyone at the counter moan like they’re getting a deep-tissue massage.
But if you’re looking for an omakase with sashimi that will make you cry, this is not it. Spend a little more money and go somewhere like Hiden for that. The reason to come here is still so you can say you’ve eaten sushi in a private room in the Versace mansion, which is a sentence we truly never thought we’d get to say out loud without quoting a Drake song. And if you too want to join that strange club - or just miss the feeling of having a drunken good time inside someone else’s very nice house - make a reservation.
Dinner here consists of a 17-course omakase. Dishes can change and rotate based on availability, but you’ll probably encounter mostly nigiri topped with things like scallop, fatty tuna, hamachi, and mackerel. Uni will be involved in at least a few dishes, like the grand finale of the meal: an uni/wagyu handroll that tastes like jumping into a swimming pool full of expensive sheets with a very high thread count. The whole ordeal takes an hour and you’ll be full, but not so full that you want to sneak into the Versace master bedroom to take a nap.