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Old Maido location to re-open as BARCode 1758, featuring Japanese fare

by Kevin Gibson

Work has begun on the old Maido location to transform it into Bar Code 1758, a Japanese-style bar and eatery. Photos by Kevin Gibson.

Work has begun on the old Maido location to transform it into Bar Code 1758, a Japanese-style bar and eatery. Photos by Kevin Gibson.

The old Maido location is getting a new tenant – and yes, there will be sushi.

Song Kim, owner of Bendoya Sushi downtown, former owner of Oasis Sushi, and current chef at Osaka in Clifton, is taking over the place with Osaka’s owners and turning it into a Japanese bar and eatery.

The name will be BARCode 1758 by Osaka – paying tribute to the location’s 1758 Frankfort Ave. address – and it will serve “traditional Japanese food,” including the usual nigiri and sashimi, along with yakitori, which is Japanese-style skewered chicken, Song said.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of things on skewers at this new eatery – Song said that will be a focal point of the menu. There also will be a few traditional dishes on the menu, which is still in the works.

What will differentiate the new eatery, he said, is “the skewers and appetizers. [It will be] half Japanese and half Korean food. We are doing a lot of choices.”

Looks like the beginnings of a shade cover for the old Maido patio.

Looks like the beginnings of a shade cover for the old Maido patio.

Song, a 10-year sushi chef veteran, said he hopes to open by mid-April and is in the process of extending the existing bar and adding a sushi bar next to it, as well as working with the Alcohol and Beverage Commission on licensing.

In addition, he is having a “sun shade” cover built for the popular patio area that faces Frankfort Avenue, a project that appears barely under way, with just a portion of the frame built so far. The old metal tables and chairs with varying colored cushions remain on the patio, which bodes well.

Along with that, the old glass door has been replaced with a one-of-a-kind, hand-made wood door.

“It’s the only one in town,” Song said. The exterior renovations, he said, “will make it look better.”

That shade will also make it a bit easier to sit outside during those super-hot Louisville summers. Sushi can get icky pretty fast when it’s 90 degrees and the sun is beating down on it.

Anyone who has been inside the location remembers how small it is, which no doubt is part of why Song has decided to limit the menu and focus more on the bars – both for sushi and drinks. Diners can come into BARCode 1758, share some appetizers, and have a glass of wine, a Japanese beer or choose from a selection of sake.

Meanwhile, the old karaoke room in the back will now be used for private parties.

“They layout is the same,” he said. “We’re just changing a little on the inside.”

0326140911cIt sounds like it’s shaping up to be a great hang-out spot, or the perfect place to stop for a snack and a drink before going out on the town. It’s perhaps surprising Osaka would open a Japanese place just a few blocks from its main location at 2039 Frankfort Ave., but it sounds like this concept will be quite a bit different, even if some of the food overlaps.

Song said it will be “more of a drinking bar … something different, a place [to] have fun. … we are trying to [be] more focused on appetizers. But we do have everything.”

It sounds like old Maido regulars such as myself are in for a treat. I spent countless evenings relaxing outside on Maido’s patio or hunkered down inside the cozy space to avoid the cold back when Jim Huie and Toki Masubuchi were calling the shots. And Maido’s super happy hour was the best deal in town, by far. Toki still does a late-night version of that at Dragon King’s Daughter.

Back in the day, Oasis used to have half-priced drinks on Mondays, and half-price sushi during happy hour weekdays, 5:30-6:30. Heck, sometimes Song would just make up specials on the fly. Maybe we’ll see some fun specials at BARCode 1758 as well.

Either way, I always found the sushi to not only be fresh and satisfying at Oasis, but creative as well. Here’s hoping Song brings that same vision back to the place where I used to spend a good chunk of my paycheck each week.

Maybe I’d better start saving up.

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