Our Story …Our Values
Established in 1994
When it came to naming his dream restaurant Mike Dodd didn’t just pluck a something out of thin air, nor did he have a big list of potential candidates. It was always going to be called Oki-Nami which translates as Big Wave. Born and raised in the beautiful seaside town of Kamakura, Japan. Mike awoke every morning to the sounds of fisherman singing ancient Japanese shanties and the dulcet crashing of those famed waves bringing in that morning’s haul. He would often look out of his kitchen window at the vibrant bay as he helped his mother cook traditional Japanese food and at those crashing Pacific waves.
One day as Mike was playing on the beach the local coast guard offered to take him out and show him a bit of surfing. Under their guidance, Mike caught his first wave and he was hooked. Combining Mike’s three life passions Japanese food, the sea and surfing calling his restaurant Oki-Nami felt like an odyssey realized.
Mike moved with his family to the Witterings in Sussex when he was only 6 years old. Close by the sea and somewhere he could throw himself into surfing with abandon and escape a sometimes turbulent home life. A bright boy and high achiever at school he went on to study Marine Botany at Bangor University. As always he made sure he was near to the surf wherever he went.
He returned to Japan with his wife, and university sweetheart, Azita, when an opportunity arose to work in the international money markets. Although the high pace and problem solving appealed to him something was missing. He would spend many evenings with his Japanese boss in his boss’s kitchen learning the art of sushi making as a way to unwind from the rigours of the day. It was here that Mike realized the thing that was missing was the opportunity to create. It all came together very quickly from then. After eight years of toiling in Tokyo’s neon towers, he returned to the heart of Sussex to open his restaurant – Oki-Nami. Getting to this place of having his own restaurant by the sea took a lot of blood, guts, determination and at times frustration.
Oki-Nami flung open its doors in 1994 as Brighton & Hove’s first Japanese restaurant. Since then, Mike has learnt through constant trial and error how to run a successful restaurant. He fiercely maintains his reputation for using only the finest and freshest ingredients and is righteously proud to say Oki-Nami is the city’s longest-running Japanese restaurant.
For fourteen years, Mike and Azita ran Oki-Nami when it was based in Hove and haunt of celebrities and trendsetters. But Mike wanted something bigger and better. A brilliant opportunity came up to relocate into the heart of Brighton, on New Road next to the Theatre Royal. So along with help from one of his regular customers – Norman “Fatboy Slim” Cook, the Oki-Nami we all know and love was created.
You will find Mike and Azita here most days ensuring that their dream is running smoothly and that their customers and staff are happy. Outside of University semester times the Dodd’s sons Joseph and Daniel are also roped in to lend a hand in the old man’s business. At Oki-Nami we all feel like a member of the family. We call Azita the brains of the organisation and Mike is most definitely its heart.
The freshest and finest ingredients
- Our founding principles of using only the freshest and finest ingredients are still at the heart of all we do. From the herbs and root vegetables straight from our head chef’s garden to our commitment to using only the freshest, sustainably sourced seafood, we select our ingredients carefully and ethically.
- Everything on our menu is made from scratch and we don’t keep stock in storage for this reason. So although this means you might have to be patient with us while we prepare your meal, you know that it’s because it has been made especially with you in mind.
- As part of our philosophy of creating only the freshest and finest food, locally sourced ingredients are really important to us. We are passionate about providing our customers with the best food and drink products, so we have forged great relationships with local suppliers and Japanese food specialists.
- We wholeheartedly believe in responsible and sustainable fishing practices.
- Around 20 million disposable chopsticks are cut each year from 20 million, 20-year-old trees. Because of this shocking fact, we go to great lengths to recycle our chopsticks in-house.
- We’re big on composting and everything we compost goes directly to farmers in the area.
- We work with local companies to recycle as much as we can and repurpose what we can – such as using old mineral water bottles as wine carafes.
- We are beginning to eradicate the use of palm oil in our dishes and we are constantly striving to make the food we serve as healthy and environmentally sound as possible.
- Our ethical approach extends to the treatment of our staff, customers, and the people we do business with.
- We are proud supporters of the LGBT community and welcome people from all backgrounds.
- Charitable causes are also close to our heart, with our most recent event held in aid of Syrian refugees.
- Japanese culture is not a gimmick for us. It’s something we take very seriously. We encourage our staff to immerse themselves in its rich history so that we can enhance our customer’s dining experience.