Eat well. Live well.

Sea Worthy

Skool on K’s inventive take on fish dishes hooks food lovers, while the new midtown restaurant’s playful concept reels in the whole family.

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Meanwhile, daily deliveries from Sunh Fish and area produce purveyors ensure the freshest, highest-quality ingredients and preparations. The menu is divided into categories, such as “Bite,” “Raw + Cured” and “Char-Grilled.” Start with a selection of oysters—briny, tender and delicious—and a crisp white wine. A must-try is the signature uni flan, a light, silken
concoction that captures the urchin’s delicate sea essence and is topped with a decadent dab of fresh uni and ikura (salmon roe). Served in a glass jar, accompanied by crostini, this pâté-like delicacy begs to be shared. Other standouts include the aforementioned squid ink spaghettina and Hiroko Nagano’s delicate, lightly sweet flourless matcha tea cake, which is accompanied by seasonal ice cream dusted with imported green tea powder, and housed in a jar with sake-soaked raisins.

Diners will also be heartened by Skool’s eclectic weekend brunch mix, which features $1 oysters, the uni flan and other staples, but also a plate of intense squid ink grits topped with daily fish, as well as a dish of panko-fried oysters and waffles. Traditionalists will find bacon and eggs, brioche French toast, smoked salmon eggs Benedict and a nuanced Bloody Mary. “There’s really something for everyone at brunch,” Mirabell says.

He has been pleasantly surprised by his customers’ adventurousness—and not just when it comes to food. “People have a lot of pride in what’s immediately around us, from farms to wineries that are really starting to evolve,” he says. Pour-over coffee is from Chocolate Fish, and Mirabell’s beverage list offers some Wine Country selections, but also boasts more local options like a Berryessa Brewing IPA. Because Skool on K does not have a full liquor license, Mirabell crafted enticing “educational” wine and sake flights, and a shochu apéritif cocktail menu for the eatery’s happy hour. Another welcome surprise: Sacramento is outpacing its San Francisco sibling in sake sales.

 The signature uni flan topped with salmon roe and pieces of fresh sea urchin and served with crostini

That’s not the only difference. “It’s refreshing to have more families—I love families—and young people really excited about trying something new,” Mirabell says of his Sacramento diners’ demographics. The kids’ menu contains pared-down versions of the adult dishes—such as a simplified squid ink pasta and Kobe beef burger—and Skool’s fish logo to color.

For their part, although Mirabell and the other principals split their time between the San Francisco and midtown locations, they have all effectively relocated to Sacramento. Mirabell and Kedik live in Arden Park with their 3-year-old daughter, Yana, and the Naganos maintain apartments in both cities, but are busy exploring Sacramento’s beer and food scene, documenting their finds—as well as Skool’s dishes—on social media. The group’s creative director Hiroko runs the restaurant’s Instagram account (@skoolonk), which has been a key marketing vehicle.

“Hiroko takes beautiful pictures of food, and it’s amazing how many people are coming because of what they saw [on Instagram],” Kedik says. She estimates about 20 percent of guests mention seeing images on the photo-sharing platform.

Ultimately, the two-couple partnership of owner-operators (formalized as 4Fish LLC) works because everyone contributes different talents and skills.

“Hiroko’s such a ‘team mom’—a leader in concept, and what’s new and interesting in the culinary world,” Mirabell says. “And Moto, he’s just raw skill—no pun intended. Olia is such a people person. She’s also so talented—she has a background in advertising and she’s designed our logos.” As for himself, Mirabell says, “I’m a little more old-school. I’m the business guy.”

And the business guy is happy with the warm welcome from all quarters—from the restaurant’s neighbors to curious diners to childhood friends who stop in. Kedik, Skool’s director of operations, is now a Sacramento evangelist as well. “There are a lot of young, ambitious people who are excited to do more in this town, and I have no doubt
we will [do more here] too,” she says. “This is just the beginning.” S