In restaurants, as in movies, it’s rare to see a sequel that lives up to the hype of the original...
As Takashi’s status in our salty city (and beyond) is near legend-level, the bar was set pretty high for their next endeavor, Post Office Place. But owners Takashi and Tamara Gibo have managed (not all that surprisingly) to pull out a bit of show-stopping vitality and originality just to the east of their multiple award-winning flagship sushi mecca.
Post Office Place may have been envisioned as a spot where patrons could enjoy a drink (it’s 21+ only, folks) and share a small plate or two whilst waiting for a table at always-busy Takashi…but we’ll gladly slide in to a cozy booth or sally up to the bar solo with the singular goal of a POP visit all on its own.
With a team like the Gibos in charge, along with some of the most stellar service in the state overseen by general manager (and one of our favorite humans) Rich Romney, it’s no surprise that the restaurant feels like it's been open for years, rather than just a short couple of months. Tamara Gibo designed the space to optimize conversation and guest comfort, while emphasizing the graceful vertical lines of the galley-like historic bones. You may know that we’re slightly obsessed with lighting, and they’ve nailed the shit out of it here: the vibe is light-hearted and elegant, with clean lines and modern local touches like the human-scaled softly lit panels made by Utah artist Gary Vlasik.
Named after the site of the city's original post office across the street...Romney says that they wanted to imbue the new venture with a community spirit reminiscent of times past, when everyone went to the post office at some point: “Cultures from all around the world interacted at the post office. People would meet and share news; it was a gathering place.” Even the gorgeous tri-folded menu (designed by Souk Mounsena) has the nostalgic feel of snail mail correspondence.
Takashi (and Rye) alum Tommy Nguyen makes his return as Post Office Place chef de cuisine, accompanied by a knock-your-socks-off bar program developed by Romney and the ever-talented Crystal Daniels. A bit of backstory on the Peruvian-Japanese connections you’ll find on every thoughtful plate: Takashi Gibo was the youngest of six kids, and when he was a toddler his family moved from Japan to Peru, making Spanish his second language (English is his third). A large and established population of Japanese immigrants had already become so incorporated into the local culture that there’s a Peruvian word for the unique fusion: “Nikkei.”
“It’s been a long time in the making. We’ve been wanting to do this type of menu for what seems like forever.”
True story: on a visit to the new spot, we munched our way through nearly the entire menu of hot and cold sharable plates, and we loved them all. With seafood a cornerstone of both Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, Nguyen pays homage to the category with several items, like a hamachi ceviche with Peruvian leche de tigre and aji amarillo sauce, smoked tea salmon mousse to scoop up with addictive house-made veggie crisps, and a clever “California roll” stuffed with king crab and served up slider style.
We're thrilled to see that Nguyen hasn't bowed to conventionality to make the menu more 'approachable'.
Japanese and Spanish phrases and ingredients abound, which your pro server will be glad to explain without even an ounce of condescension. Experience everything from sleek Japanese whisky-spiked chicken live pâté and steaming shrimp dumplings to international bar food favorites like crispy pig ear (aka “meat fries”) or a zippy celery salad served alongside an unpretentious tin of sardines (which totally brought us back to ordering similar snacks in the alley bars of Italy).
And speaking of bars, the program at Post Office Place is flat-out bonkers, in the best possible way. With Romney and Daniels in charge, its no surprise that the drinks are a delicious as they are delightful to look at, with cheeky service in masu (cedar sake boxes) making for a unique sensory experience on a couple of pisco-shochu Nikkei mashups.
It's a testament to the mantra we've been shouting for the last decade: the SLC food scene is kicking some serious ass. Enough so, that the tired phrase, “this doesn’t even feel like we’re in Salt Lake,” has lost all cred. Indeed, Post Office Place is a joint as creative, egalitarian and inclusive as we’ve seen in major food cities around the world. Unapologetically original, this is a place that doesn’t need to shout from the rooftops that it’s arrived. But we’re more than happy to do the shouting for them.
Signed, sealed, delivered...we're yours, Post Office Place.
Post Office Place | 16 W Market St, SLC