Nashville Chef and Restaurateur Sarah Gavigan to Open Bar Otaku: A Japanese Izakaya on January 12th

Gavigan will open Bar Otaku, a sister restaurant to Otaku Ramen serving Japanese soul food in The Gulch neighborhood

Nashville Chef and Restaurateur Sarah Gavigan to Open Bar Otaku: A Japanese Izakaya on January 12thNashville chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Sarah Gavigan announces plans to expand the Otaku community by opening Bar Otaku: A Japanese Izakaya on Saturday, January 12. In an effort to unify the successful brand, Gavigan will transform 505 12th Avenue South from her small plates restaurant that occupied the space from January 2017-January 2019, Little Octopus, into the newest evolution of Otaku, a concept offering dinner and late-night service inspired by her time spent in traditional izakayas.


Bar Otaku will be a space for respite, congregation, and revelry fit for everyday eating and drinking. Staying true to the spirit of a traditional izakaya, which serves as a lively gathering place to unwind with friends after a long day’s work, Bar Otaku’s diverse menu will offer approachable prices for all guests and experiences, whether they’re seeking a post-work round of drinks, a weeknight dinner with friends, or a place to end their night out. The relaxed and inviting atmosphere reflects Gavigan’s cherished memories of frequenting izakayas during her almost two decades of living in Los Angeles. She’s excited to bring that same experience to Nashville, inspiring a sense of community with welcoming and nurturing dishes. Just as sister property Otaku Ramen was instrumental in introducing Nashville to the art of ramen, Gavigan hopes that Bar Otaku will introduce another staple of Japanese food culture to Music City.

“We’ve had a blast with Little Octopus and appreciate all of the love and support we’ve received over the past two years. Now that we are more familiar with the neighborhood and the needs of the city, it’s simply the right time for a change,” says Gavigan. “We’re fully invested in the Otaku community and have seen the growth of the brand and culture move quickly, so this was the natural next step for us. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to open an izakaya in Nashville.”


Japanese soul food is the star at Bar Otaku. Shared plates include otsumani (snacks), yasai (greens), gohan (rice), yakimono (broiled), agemono (fried), sakana (raw fish), and yakitori and kushiyaki (grilled) items, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, all inspired by the tried-and-true dishes shared with loved ones and friends around izakaya tables throughout Japan. A typical dinner at Bar Otaku might include a selection of shareable dishes such as:

  • Lotus root chips | RENKON-AGE | furikake
  • Smoked grilled Wings | DEBASAKI | tare glaze | togarashi | lemon wedge
  • Green lettuce wrap | RETASURAPPU | smoked tofu | miso sauce | carrot | scallion |shiso
  • Yellowtail | HAMACHI | smoky ponzu | frizzled herbs
  • Salmon | SAKE | hot sesame oil | togarashi
  • Handroll | TEMAKI | spicy tuna
  • Vegetable Curry | KARERAISU | carrots | potatoes | rice
  • Bone Marrow | DENGAKU | miso brûlée + whiskey shot
  • Salmon | KASU SAKE | “Proper Sake” kasu | broiled
  • University potatoes | DENGAKU IMO | sweet potatoes | shoyu | honey | black sesame V
  • Catfish croquette | KOROKKE | kewpie comeback sauce
  • Pork sausage | SOSEJI | karashi mustard
  • Chicken meatball | TSUKUNE | shoyu tare
  • Skirt steak | SUKATOSUTEKI | mustard miso


Reflective of Japanese bar culture, the beverage program will be centered around beer, sake, and soju, meant to be shared with friends and co-workers to unwind. The bar features Japanese and domestic beers, cup and large format sake, and a distinct Japanese whiskey collection for highballs or straight-sipping. Seasonal cocktails are featured on a focused and very whimsical menu, offering affordable and classic options alongside drink specials throughout the week.


The renovated space will reflect the comfort of Bar Otaku’s menu, creating a cozy, convivial, and fun atmosphere. Communal seating, private booths, dark walls, and light wood allow the Otaku-style art and illustrations (from both local graffiti artists and Otaku artists from galleries across the country) to shine. The 2,700-square-foot space has 103 seats, including nine at the bar and 10 at the chef’s counter.