According to restaurantbrokers.com, 90% of locally owned restaurants fail in the first year. So when word got out one of my favorite little stops in town is celebrating one year of business, some family members and I dropped in for some dinner and it gave me a cheap excuse for me to have a little chat with owner Sam Zeng.
|Tokyo’s Sushi Boat!|
For my family, it was their first time attending and needless to say they had a great time.
|Kaki Fried (Fried Oysters)|
For Sam Zeng, it’s been an incredible journey. Sam moved to Wichita from Arizona where he crafted his culinary skills and perfected the art of sushi making. Upon moving to Wichita, he knew his goal was to open a restaurant. When asking Sam the biggest struggle in opening up, he laughed and said, “It’s really hard.”
There are many people who love cooking and have that dream of opening up their own place and for Sam it became a reality. He spent many months gutting and renovating the old Hunan space into what is the beautiful inside of Tokyo Japanese Cuisine. To make it one year has big one of Sam’s biggest joys.
I asked how hard it is to learn to become a professional sushi chef. His eyes lit up and said “Wow…. I would say for the beginning it would take 3-4 months. It’d be very simple rolls. If you want to be a top chef, I would say it could take around 2 years”
That’s certainly the truth. I’ve done it myself before and it comes out looking like a roll of play dough instead of sushi. Making sushi looks so simple but yet it’s so hard!
|Yosenabi (Noodle Soup)|
The favorite part of owning Tokyo for Sam though? “My favorite part, I think, is when I see our business growing and getting new customers. It’s very exciting. When I see tables ordering soooo many rolls and eat it all. I am like ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ I’ll have conversations with customers who have never eaten sushi and then they like it.”
Business has really picked up since they started offering half price sushi on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. For those that don’t know, Tokyo Japanese Cuisine has a special sushi menu on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. It’s half off and available dine-in only. Sam noted this was a special at a restaurant he worked at in Arizona. It worked so well he decided to bring it to his restaurant. He mentioned Sundays have been incredibly busy for them. Sam has since started offering more specials as well to keep alluring customers.
There are other items like Bento Boxes. On Saturday from Noon-3 pm and all day Wednesday and Thursday, Tokyo Japanese Cuisine offers 20% off Bento Boxes. These are great deals because they offer customers a chance to sample all sorts of different items like different appetizers, salads and rolls all for a low price. (Check out the end of the article for the menu). Then on Friday and Saturday, there is half price all drinks from 4-7 pm.
With other competitors in town, I asked what really set them apart from the other options. Sam really prided himself on the quality of his ingredients. “We use a lot of high quality ingredients. (For instance), our oysters are shipped here daily. Some people don’t know we have fresh oysters. We get it shipped here daily and it’s all high quality.”
|Shumai (deep fried dumplings)|
People should know, they strictly aren’t just sushi. “Two of my favorite items are the hibachi steak and chicken dinners. The combination dinner is very good. The hibachi steak is very popular with our customers”, Sam said. “People should know also not all sushi is raw. There are great items that include tempura or a California roll.” If you are there for sushi though, I asked what are his two favorite rolls, “Sapporo Roll and Transformer Roll.” I can certainly attest for the Transformer, it’s one of my favorites.
To celebrate his one year, Sam is offering all of these specials until December 31st. They will be open every day of the year from now until the end of the year except for Thanksgiving. At that point, he said he is sure he’ll have something new.
I’ve been going to Tokyo Japanese Cuisine since I first heard about it and it’s one of the regular restaurants in my rotation I frequent often. I know a lot of people have their main staples for sushi they go to but I highly recommend giving a Tokyo a try for yourself and seeing if you like. My cousin tried it for her first time and was an instant fan. One of my nieces already wants to go again this weekend.
The Mochi Balls were a bit hit for the nieces who joined me. They were by far the best Mochi Balls we’ve ever had. Many ones we’ve tried in town are a little hard which can be tough for the kids to eat but the ones at Tokyo were perfect for the girls. They still had the same great flavor but a softer texture.
One of the bright spots about Tokyo is also their appetizers. I think that was one of the bright spots that really separate themselves from the competition. Whether it’s their deep fried dumplings which everyone loved or the fried oysters or the Kani Salad, there are a lot of items worth starting the meal with. It’s not just the basics like edamame or a shrimp cocktail appetizer.
Two major highlights for the family was the Teriyaki plate with tender pieces of steak and the Sushi Boat we got. If you order enough chef specials, they’ll present it out on a big wooden boat. The presentation alone is worthy of an Oscar Award.
Tokyo Japanese Cuisine is sure to be a major treat for those who give it a try. The service is always top notch when I go with the wait time to get your food nearly half of what places like Wasabi downtown and Sumo’s can be. I have yet to have a bad experience there. Seems like every time, I have the same server. She’s a real sweetheart with a personality of someone who reminds me of my belated aunt.
I’ll have to do a real full review of Tokyo Japanese Cuisine in the near future. In the meantime, get out there and add trying a new sushi restaurant to your bucket list.
446 N West Street
Wichita, KS 67203
Open Monday – Thursday 11am – 3pm; 4pm – 9:30pm
Friday 11am – 3pm; 4pm – 10pm
Saturday Noon – 10pm
Sunday Noon – 9:30pm
Website: http://www.tokyoks.com/default.aspx (Coupons and Menu available online)
Up to 50% Off Sushi Menu for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
Bento Box Menu: