Silvers Omakase Is Aiming for the Stars

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior of Silvers Omakase, opening Tuesday: the former Seven Bar & Kitchen space in the Funk Zone has been converted to a plush jewel box, the better to spotlight the cooking of chef Lennon Silvers Lee. There’s nothing modest about the restaurant’s ambitions, either. “You’re coming for the best sushi experience you can have in the United States,” promises Lee’s business partner, Lisa Green.

Lee and Green met when he was chef at Sushi Bar Montecito (now Sushi by Scratch Restaurants) on Coast Village Road. “My husband and I were frequent diners at Sushi Bar and always fascinated with Lennon’s talent and passion,” says Green. “He’s so excited about everything he does. He has that fire.” Indeed, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2021, just two and a half years after opening.

So it was a shock when Lee decided to leave. The owners—Lee’s brother and sister-in-law—wanted to grow the brand nationwide (there are now 10), with Lennon in a management role. He had other ambitions: “I wanted two stars,” he says.

Lee told the Greens about his vision for a new restaurant, Lisa got onboard, and the two of them embarked on the long journey of opening a restaurant in Santa Barbara. What they’ve come up with is unlike anything else in town. The reason, explains Green, is that the mold was broken from the start. “What you’re walking into is a Caucasian gentleman from the Valley who can somehow make this incredible sushi,” she says. “He’s not classically trained in sushi, he’s not Japanese. Since we already have these unconventional aspects, why build the typical L.A. sushi restaurant?” She pauses. “Plus, that wouldn’t be fun.”

A sense of theater is embedded throughout, starting at the entrance, where there’s a discreet sign, opaque windows, and a doorbell you have to push for entry. Act one takes place in a sitting room with art rotating in from the Greens’ collection. Once all of the patrons have arrived, the group is ushered into the main chamber, where a row of 10 seats face the chefs and a mountain mural by Kelly Claus, with artworks by Joan Rosenberg-Dent on either side.

The two-hour dining experience ($185, plus beverages, tax, and gratuity) is designed to offer Lee and his team maximum flexibility, with anywhere from 13 to 20 courses, depending on what’s available and in season. “The menu is 75 percent sushi and 25 percent plated courses,” says Lee. This sample menu gives you a vague idea of what to expect….

Lee and Green have clearly made the restaurant of their dreams, with attention paid to every detail—starting with valet parking on weekends (even though the restaurant has its own 20-car lot) and ending at a little patio in back, where you can brace yourself for reentry to the real world. In between, you’ll find exquisite Yu Maruta pottery, Kagani crystal, discreet handbag baskets on the chairs, little pads for your cell phone to rest on, menus printed on handcrafted Japanese paper, and a wine-and-sake list rich with rarities.

Like anything precious, Silvers Omakase doesn’t scale, and Lee and Green are fine with that. “If I’m not here,” he says, “we don’t open.”


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