Boston, MA - There’s been a purported law in the statutes of Oklahoma since 1974 prohibiting whaling within the state. While it’s only partially true (the law prohibits the capture of any near-endangered species and does not specifically mention whales,) it’s still an irreverent and uniquely playful proposition.
Which are two things chef-owners Tim Maslow and Matt Hummel wanted to embody when they opened Whaling In Oklahoma in the South End late in August.
Billed as a modern American brasserie with a focus on Japanese flavors, Whaling in Oklahoma opened on August 23rd in the same location of 647 Tremont and Sister Sorel, both of which closed on (naturally) April 1st.
It also marks the return of Maslow—a 2015 nominee for Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef”—to the Boston food scene since the closure of his Brookline venture Ribelle in 2016. Ribelle’s closure was preempted by Maslow’s controversial remarks to area food critics, including an Instagram post telling the Boston Globe to “Take your 4 stars back. Give it to someone who wants it.”
“I owe Boston an apology,” he said in 2017. “Through all of the heartache and struggles, there were points when I thought Boston owed me an apology, but I more or less owe Boston an apology. It's sincere, and I want to make it right. The city supported me like crazy, and I just blew it off.”
But if bygones are content to be bygones, the future for Maslow in the area looks promising. Whaling in Oklahoma boasts of an eclectic decor, with one half consisting of soft tones flanked by intricate murals and the other a tribute to the hunting lodges of Hokkaido complete with hard wood paneling and taxidermy. And with a nod to the suburban past time to end all suburban past times, the restaurant also includes a private room doubling as a karaoke lounge.
Equally eclectic is the menu, where a marinated lobster hand roll can sit happily beside an eggplant tempura in a caramelized onion sauce; while items such as salt grilled amberjack or sea urchin with siso and fried mochi remind you this is not your typical strip mall Japanese grille.
“People are losing sight of what’s important about the food industry—hospitality and making people feel happy. That smile when you're leaving, the elation...you want good food, but all the other things in addition to that are really important, and you don't get that at every restaurant you go to,” said Maslow. “They're trying to impress you with quenelles and techniques and minimalist plates and negative space, and yeah, I did all the same stuff, and I made all the same mistakes. But I'll tell you: Cooking from the heart is way more satisfying.”
Whaling in Oklahoma is located at 647 Tremont St in Boston and is open Monday - Thursday from 5:00 pm - 12:00 am, Friday - Saturday from 5:00 pm - 1:00 am and Sunday from 4:00 pm - 11:00 pm. For more information, visit whalinginoklahoma.com/