Monday, January 25, 2021

"Here's a new one for the Strip: sushi in a grocery store": (Pre-)Chaya in the Strip.

If you watch the 1996 Rick Sebak documentary "The Strip Show" on WQED you might see a familiar face setting up a stand in the Strip District. Before opening Chaya in Squirrel Hill in 2001, Fumio Yasuzawa and his wife, Jackie (pictured above), operated a stand at Sambok, an Asian grocery in the Strip District. He was photographed for a 1999 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on local sushi offerings:
Several call themselves the most authentic. Fumio Yasuzawa's sidewalk ad reads "Tokyo trained," which is the equivalent of the UL label on electrical appliances. His devoted fans call him Yasu, and he works in what's undoubtedly the smallest space of any sushi chef in the city -- a closet-sized nook just inside the door of New Sambok Oriental Foods in The Strip.
He opened this stand in 1998, as documented by the Post-Gazette:
Here's a new one for the Strip: a sushi bar at a grocery store.

Sambok, the Oriental food store at 1737 Penn Avel., has hired a Tokyo-trained sushi chef to make the tekka maki, California roll, and other sushi and sashim specialities at the sushi bar. It's open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturday, the big day in the Strip, it opens a half hour earlier. On Sunday, it's closed.

The chef is Fumo "Yasu" Yasuzawa, who has worked at the Hotel Kitano in New York City and the River Vale Country Club and Fort Lee Hilton in New Jersey. The New Sambok Sushi Bar, as it's called, and the chef also will come to your wedding, dinner party or whatever. Rent-a-Sushi Bar, the new service is called.
Chaya announced last week that it will close at the end of this month.