Cody Auger is best known as the executive chef at Portland sushi superstar restaurant Nimblefish, which was named a PoMo Best Restaurant in 2018. Now, he has taken on the executive chef role at Takibi, the Japanese restaurant owned by outdoor brand Snow Peak.
Auger will continue to be a part-owner of Nimblefish, which opened in 2017; chef Dwight Rosendahl is also stepping away from the restaurant’s daily operations but will continue as a part-owner. Longtime Nimblefish employee Yasu Tabita has taken over the executive chef position. The restaurant, which had been offering takeout à la carte menus early in the pandemic, recently switched to a prix-fixe omakase menu when it reopened for indoor dining.
But leaving his position as executive chef at Nimblefish, Auger says, had been in the works even before the pandemic. “It was our plan from when we opened Nimblefish to be kind of a casual sushi offering; it definitely has transformed into a less casual environment,” he says.
Auger visited Takibi shortly after its opening in May 2021 and was impressed by its take on izakaya-style cuisine. “I really enjoyed having some really traditional Japanese food here at Takibi,” Auger says. “The flavors stay true and authentic to the cuisine, which I feel like sometimes in Portland that's kind of missed a little bit and it gets to be something that's not very Japanese at all.” He also welcomed the fun crossovers between the Snow Peak gear brand and food. “There’s definitely potential for Takibi to be a niche for [izakaya] here in Portland.”
The spirit of Takibi’s menu—shareable dishes focusing on seasonal, wood-fired ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and Japan—will remain the same, and the bar program continues to be led by bar director Jim Meehan and bar manager Lydia McLuen. Auger has added several new dishes to the menu, including warayaki-style sashimi, in which fish is seared over burning straw; a play on blini featuring rabbit liver mousse and salmon roe on a sweet dorayaki pancake; grilled lamb chops marinated in barley miso; and McFarland Springs trout sashimi.
According to a spokesperson for Takibi, the restaurant is no longer associated with chef Joshua McFadden’s restaurant group Submarine Hospitality, which owns several restaurants, including Ava Gene's and Tusk. Submarine and McFadden came under fire in summer of 2020 following allegations on social media that the restaurant group fostered a toxic work environment, and Submarine partner Luke Dirks and Tusk chef Sam Smith left shortly after.
“Snow Peak hired Submarine Hospitality for the launch of the restaurant. Submarine consulted and helped manage creative development, menu concepting and launch operations of Takibi,” reads a Takibi statement. “Bringing Takibi’s operations fully in-house has always been part of our evolution,” Snow Peak USA chief operating officer Matt Liddle said in that statement.