“Asian fusion” is a pretty common term these days. But in Ewing, about 14 years ago, Tony Yu was at the forefront of offering Chinese and Japanese cuisine in the same restaurant.
As it’s been 14 years, Yu’s foray into fusion cuisine was clearly a good idea. His restaurant, East Sushi, is tucked into an unassuming space the Suburban Square shopping center, where it’s been since 2000.
“I have owned it since 2003,” Yu says. “The previous owner owned for about two-and-a-half years and couldn’t build the business, then sold it to me.”
The original incarnation of the restaurant was purely Chinese, but quickly became a fusion restaurant at a time when sushi was becoming trendy at the beginning of the century.
Unfortunately for the original owner, there were some financial troubles, Yu said.
“I found this business through one of my dad’s friends who used to work in the kitchen for the first East Sushi owner,” he said. “He called my dad told him that the restaurant was for sale. We were living in Marlton at the time. So my dad and I came to the restaurant to take look, and we really liked it.”
Yu researched Ewing — competitors, household income, offices around the area — then decided to give it a shot.
“The main reasons were, East Sushi was the only Japanese and Chinese restaurant in the town, and sushi was a trend at the time,” he says.
Yu is the sole owner of East Sushi, and after a decade and a half, still loves it.
“I like this field simply because when a customer really enjoys your food, [there’s a] sense of achievement,” he says. “I like them to come back, and get to know them. They become like my friends.”
By the way, don’t let the restaurant’s name fool you. Sushi is only part of the Japanese menu. East Sushi also serves katsu (fried) dishes, sashimi, and tempura/teriyaki dishes. The Chinese menu includes traditional dishes well known to those who get cravings — appetizers like egg rolls and edamame; Chinese soups; dim sum; pork, beef, and poultry dishes; fried rice; seafood; vegetarian dishes; and stir fry.
These days, East Sushi has a third spoke in the Asian fusion wheel too — Thai. For those with more daring taste buds, East Sushi serves the often complex dishes of Thailand, which are intricate, multi-textured, colorful, and sublimely healthy. Yu tries to make Thai meals fit the Thai tradition of “sum rap” dining — the idea of thinking of the meal as a whole.
Adding Thai to the menu isn’t a surprise where Yu is concerned. He’s always looking to shake things up.
“We constantly try to find new recipes so customers wont get tired of our food,” he says. “We just started some new sushi recipes, such as Sushi Pizza, and some trendy sushi, sashimi-style, each piece with different seasoning.”
East Sushi is also doing some specials by notifying customer by email or telephone.
“For example, we will send email or text to customers to let them know we are doing such-and-such special on certain nights,” Yu says.
Yu invites anyone looking to be on the list to just let him know a number or email address.
East Sushi is a BYOB restaurant, and many visitors bring in their own bottles of sake, Yu said. The restaurant keeps some of the empty bottles on shelves set aside for display, and regulars are permitted to keep unfinished bottles on the shelves for their next visit.
Lunch is offered Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is offered from 3 to 9:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
East Sushi, 43 Scotch Rd. Phone: (609) 771-4499.