Inspired by sister restaurants in Charleston, S.C. and Atlanta, O-Ku’s menu provides a fresh and innovative take on traditional Japanese sushi and cuisine. The South End restaurant offers rare and unique dining options along with traditional sashimi and specialty rolls, highlighting seafood from the finest fish markets in Tokyo and Hawaii alongside local and seasonal ingredients.
Reminiscent of traditional Japanese culture, O-Ku’s menu is comprised of signature starters, contemporary Japanese entrees and seasonal traditional sushi that reflect the uniquely designed space. The beverage program is built around quality ingredients that celebrate Japanese culture and Charlotte’s best purveyors with a sophisticated blend of specialty cocktails along with premium sake, wine and local beer selections.
Located in South End’s Atherton Mill, O-Ku Sushi brings a unique dining experience to one of Charlotte’s most popular neighborhoods.
Partners & Purveyors
At O-Ku, we are passionate about supporting our local farmers and fishermen and proudly showcase their bounty throughout our menu
Hawaiian Fresh Seafood
Northern Fish Co.
Share Our Strength
James Beard Foundation
Sustainable Seafood Initiative
Steve Palmer is the managing partner of the hospitality and consulting company, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group. Celebrating 10 years of service in 2019, The Indigo Road was founded in 2009 in Charleston, S.C., when Palmer began working with the celebrated restaurant Oak Steakhouse on historic Broad Street. The Indigo Road now owns and operates more than 24 concepts throughout the Southeast. These properties include O-Ku (Charleston, Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Nashville), Tiny Lou’s (Atlanta) The Cocktail Club (Charleston), The Macintosh (Charleston), Indaco (Charleston), Oak Steakhouse (Alpharetta, Ga., Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Alexandria, Va.), Colletta (Alpharetta), Mercantile and Mash (Charleston), Bar Mash (Charleston), The Cedar Room (Charleston), Town Hall (Florence, S.C.), Donetto (Atlanta) and Sukoshi (Charlotte). Several projects are also currently in the works, including Sukoshi Atlanta, Indaco in Charlotte and Colletta in Cary, N.C.
During the company’s 10th anniversary year, The Indigo Road has been named a Forbes Small Giant and landed a spot on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list, celebrating a decade of continued growth and success. In addition, The Indigo Road’s anniversary fundraiser raised $40,000 for Homeless to Hope Fund, a nonprofit supporting the homeless population in Charleston, S.C.
Palmer’s passion for and commitment to the hospitality industry has been palpable since the age of 13 and he attributes the company’s rapid growth and success to a loyal and dedicated team, maintaining the philosophy that great service starts with well cared for employees. By promoting from within and continuing to create new opportunities for his staff, Palmer has developed a strong company culture that is reflected within the walls of each of his concepts, resulting in an unwavering level of hospitality experienced by guests and patrons.
Prior to forming The Indigo Road, Palmer served as vice president of food and beverage for Ginn Clubs and Resorts. In this role, he managed 11 properties in the Southeast and the Caribbean while simultaneously developing other hospitality concepts for the company. He eventually served as the lead developer for Ginn Resorts and developed over $100 million in hotel and club space.
In 1995, Palmer was recruited as wine director and service manager of Canoe in Atlanta, which received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant in 1996 and was also named one of the Top Five Anticipated Restaurant openings in 1995 by USA Today. Palmer returned to Charleston to become a founding partner for Eidolon, a consulting company specializing in luxury restaurants whose client list includes Planters Inn, Peninsula Grill and Hanks Seafood (the latter two are both past recipients of the Best Restaurant awards in Esquire), and 2nd Empire in Raleigh, N.C.
Palmer also worked with The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis where he co-created the largest private dining wine cellar in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain, earning praise from both Wine Spectator and Santé magazine. Palmer then returned to Charleston to become managing partner at the esteemed Peninsula Grill. Under Palmer’s management, Peninsula Grill garnered a Relais & Châteaux designation and recognition as one of the country’s best restaurants in Esquire, USA Today and Wine Spectator.
Charleston’s The Post & Courier named Palmer the second most powerful food and beverage industry player in the city, recognizing him for not only for a growing presence in the hospitality business, but also for his charitable and community efforts. Palmer is a longtime supporter of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry and Charleston’s Feed the Need coalition, and founded Ben’s Friends, a food and beverage industry support group offering hope, fellowship and a path forward to professionals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction, in 2016. Ben’s Friends has grown to serve over ten chapters through the United States. Palmer has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, L.A. Times, NPR, Food & Wine Magazine, Southern Living, for his work, and has presented at TEDx Charleston and various high-profile culinary events including the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Palmer’s efforts have also been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, with two nominations in the “Outstanding Restaurateur” category in 2018 and 2019.
Steve Palmer and Forbes Books will be releasing his first book, a memoir, in late fall 2019.
Kimball Brienza isn’t new to the O-Ku concept and Indigo Road Restaurant Group. After serving as general manager of sister restaurant, O-Ku Charleston, for five years, Brienza was promoted to managing partner of the growing sushi concept. He will now split his time between the three locations: Atlanta, Charleston and Charlotte.
Throughout Brienza’s time with O-Ku Charleston, the thriving restaurant has been recognized as one of Esquire magazine’s 20 Best New Restaurants of 2010, chosen as one of the Top 50 Hot Spot Restaurants in the nation by OpenTable in 2011, featured as one of Travel + Leisure’s Top Sushi Restaurants in 2012 and named one of America’s best Japanese restaurants by New York Post in 2016.
Before joining the O-Ku team, Brienza worked with Indigo Road Restaurant Group’s Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, S.C. for two years. Prior to joining the Indigo Road family, Brienza served as dining room manager at the Boathouse after working his way up to management at Carolina’s, where he first met and worked with chef Jeremiah Bacon, now of Indigo Road’s Oak Steakhouse and The Macintosh.
Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Cooperstown, N.Y., Brienza’s eclectic mix of cultures led him to attend culinary school in New York at the O.A.O.C.
Michael Chanthavong is the executive chef of O-Ku Charlotte, a concept from The Indigo Road hospitality group. He brings extensive skills, enthusiasm and creativity with him to both the kitchen and the O-Ku Charlotte team.
Sharing a passion for cooking with his parents, immigrants of Laos, Chanthavong grew up surrounded by Southeast Asian food. He diversified his expertise in the kitchen by spending time with friends of different ethnic backgrounds. This inspiration to grow and experiment new skills intensifies in his role as executive chef of O-Ku Charlotte.
Chanthavong has 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry and eight years of sushi experience. He loves that food is at the center of bringing people together and believes that “great food tends to come with great company.”
Born in Rochester, New York, Chanthavong has been a resident of North Carolina since 1992 and first moved to Charlotte in 2004. In his spare time, Chanthavong enjoys golfing and fishing, as well as spending time with his wife Noi, who also works at O-Ku, and friends.