Otaru Review – Fine Japanese Dining With a View

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on May 28, 2024.

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It is not often that a new restaurant opens on Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington, but when one does, it comes with a bang.

Otaru opened on Mount Washington in 2024 and hit the ground running with a premium Japanese menu, a respectable cocktail and sake program, and, of course, a view worthy of the name of the street the restaurant resides on.

So snag a reservation, save your pennies, and get ready for a splurge with many delicious options to choose from here!

Japanese Fare with a Pittsburgh View at Otaru

View from Otaru

The first thing you'll notice at Otaru is the attention to detail that went into the design. No matter where you are seated, the space has been decorated with beautiful Japanese designs virtually everywhere you look. Truly, we spent a good bit of our first few moments here looking at the aesthetic choices, and it was only after that we turned the other direction for the most important element of all- the view.

There is a reason why restaurants on Grandview Avenue have the best views in the city, and Otaru is no different. While there is a slight obstruction from the restaurants nearby, the view here offers an expansive vista of the city, stadiums, and more. It was a real treat to also watch a Pirates victory with the light fireworks celebration at the end (we're already planning a return for a proper fireworks night).

Manhattan and Original Sin at Otaru

After taking it all in, our attention shifted to the menu which is, in a word, large. While you will not find conventional sushi rolls on the menu here, the restaurant has an impressive array of hot appetizers, cold appetizers, open handrolls, an omakase tasting menu, nigiri and sashimi ordered a la carte, and hot entrees for good measure.

If we spent a lot of time taking in the restaurant's ambiance and soaking up the view, we spent even more time planning out our menu for the evening as this one has so much we would need five or six visits to do it justice. (If you can get an idea ahead of time by looking at the online menu, we'd highly recommend it- more time to enjoy the view!).

We started our meal off with a round of cocktails, giving the house Manhattan and the Original Sin (made with vodka, sake, honey syrup, and absinthe) a try. The Manhattan was a solid iteration of the cocktail with a great balance of whiskey and vermouth, but the Original Sin had all the right notes of delicate honey and sake with undertones of sake. Since our visit, the restaurant has expanded its sake cocktail menu with a selection of Saketini creations that would definitely be on our radar for a return.


On the food front, we started off with an order of a simple-yet-delicious iteration of okonomiyaki (griddled cabbage pancake with seafood) before moving on to a selection of handrolls, including a scallop roll that was loaded with tender scallops and topped with a spicy mayonnaise (if our taste buds can be trusted here- the menu was a bit sparse on ingredients beyond the seafood), that made for what was perhaps our favorite bite of the night. 

Otaru Hand Rolls

Much like with the hand rolls, the nigiri was really the star of the show here at Otaru. These are served one piece per order and run the spectrum of price points. We went through our nigiri favorites of yellowtail belly, toro, and seared salmon belly and found the fish to be fresh and flavorful all around; however, the six pieces also ran $58 before tax and tip as well- on the super-premium side of the spectrum for sushi in the city, we must admit!

Nigiri at Otaru

While we went a bit nigiri heavy for our dinner, we also threw on an order of grilled octopus with mushrooms, yuzu juice, and cilantro for good measure from the hot dish side of the menu.

This one was a heaping mound of mushrooms with large slices of octopus served on top and was on the more inventive side of the menu creations we've had here. The richness of both of the main ingredients was cut nicely with the freshness of yuzu and the cilantro, even if we admittedly could've done with a bit more of the yuzu flavor overall to counter the umami-nature of this one.

Octopus and Mushrooms

At this point, we were deciding whether or not to order more food and another round of drinks, but due to the slightly slow service, we opted to call it a night and end our meal content but not completely packed to the brim.

Admittedly, this was likely a good thing, as the premium nature of this one still resulted in a bill that broke $200 after tax and tip. Quality fish with a view to match really doesn't come cheap, and based on the prices of the a la carte nigiri, we may be driven to instead go all-in on a meal set like the Treasure Box (sashimi), Handroll Set, Everything Don (sashimi on rice), or the Otaru Course to eat our way around the delicious seafood with a more curated experience and, debatably, a slightly more affordable price point.

Still, we are quite excited that Grandview Avenue is now home to a high-end Japanese restaurant, and when it comes to sashimi with a view, the combination at Otaru is unlike anything else you'll find nearby!

Otaru is located at 1200 Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington.

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