By Sara Hayden
After 20 years in Menlo Park, Koma Sushi now has a new home a few account abroad in Palo Alto, at sister restaurant Kanpai Sushi.
A bowl of Amaebi, tuna, albacore, yellowtail tuna, salmon, cream clam, cockle and squid sashimi, served with absurd Amaebi active on a bed of disconnected daikon radish, at Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
The architecture that housed Koma Sushi in Menlo Park is actuality burst to accomplish way for the mixed-use Allied Arts development.
“It’s sad that we accept to move out of a abode we’ve been at for a actual connected time. But it’s additionally agitative that we’re starting a new chapter,” buyer Koichi Baba says.
The exoteric of Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
In city Palo Alto, Koma Sushi barter can apprehend to still acquisition their favorites at the 330 Lytton Avenue location. Aggregate will be beneath the Kanpai Sushi name, but both Koma and Kanpai will accumulate their corresponding teams and menus, featuring sushi, sashimi, udon, teriyaki, tempura, account and more.
“The name is activity to be different, but … I appetite to accomplish abiding (customers) can see the aforementioned bodies alive here, including myself,” Baba says. “All the advisers are accompany with approved customers.”
This isn’t Koma Sushi’s aboriginal move. The restaurant was originally amid beyond the Dumbarton Bridge at the Fremont Hub arcade center, breadth Koma Sushi opened in March of 1977.
“That was one of the oldest Japanese restaurants about Newark, Hayward and Fremont in the Tri-City area,” Baba says.
Kanpai Sushi buyer Koichi Baba prepares sushi at the Palo Alto restaurant on September 7th, 2021. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
Baba recalls aboriginal audition about the Bay Breadth restaurant aback he was active in Tokyo, activity to academy at night to apprentice how to accomplish sushi. Someone he met had a affiliation to Koma Sushi’s aboriginal buyer in the United States. By that time, Baba had already been an barter apprentice to the U.S. twice, with stints belief at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and San Jose State University. He was acquisitive to return.
“It’s been a dream for me, aback my aerial academy years. I consistently capital to appear to the United States and accessible a Japanese sushi restaurant,” Baba says.
Koma Sushi’s aboriginal proprietor, Riyoko Lingerfelt, told Baba there wasn’t alike a BART band because the restaurant’s breadth was so far afield at that time. Nevertheless, Baba came to assignment for “Riyoko-san.”
A blow from the 1977 Argus bi-weekly commodity on beat restauranteur Riyoko Lingerfelt. (Image via Newspapers.com)
“She’s a fable actually. She’s a actual tough, able woman. Aback then, active and owning a restaurant as a woman was a boxy thing, I think. Alike now, and abnormally aback then. Many women weren’t accomplishing that,” Baba says.
In 1977, The Argus bi-weekly appear that Lingerfelt formed in restaurants her accomplished life, starting in Japan at her parents’ restaurant, and again continuing in the Bay Breadth breadth she ran Koma Sushi with her sister Sumako Kinoshita. They didn’t accept a bake oven, but they had a cook, and a acquaintance who helped them accomplish custom “koma” bold pieces to adorn the restaurant.
Lingerfelt told the paper, “I anticipation I knew aggregate about the restaurant business aback I absitively to alpha my own.” She laughed, and continued, “But I was wrong. I’ve abstruse a lot aback then, and I still accept a lot to learn. It isn’t easy.”
The anchorman asked Lingerfelt why she chose Fremont, to which she responded there were no added Japanese restaurants there.
“Of course, abridgement of antagonism is no agreement of success, but with her agreeableness and comestible ability, Riyoko aloof ability accomplish it!” the commodity concluded.
And she did. Aback Riyoko-san was accessible to retire from the restaurant, Baba took over, and operated in the Fremont breadth for added than a decade.
“We had a actual traditional, ancient Japanese aliment menu, like sukiyaki that you about never see appropriate now,” Baba says.
Kanpai Sushi’s dragon cycle has shrimp tempura and avocado central and is topped with eel, in Palo Alto. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
When their Fremont architecture was demolished, Baba relocated Koma Sushi to Menlo Park and acquired the menu, specializing in sushi and added varieties of fish.
Since then, Baba and his wife, Noriko, accept opened addition restaurant in Portola Valley, and alien a admixture card at Kanpai Sushi in Palo Alto. Koma Sushi became a admired of Flea Street buyer Jesse Cool, and a abiding ancestors favorite. The Babas accept apparent some barter abound up there.
“They acclimated to appear actuality with baby kids. Now they’re all adults, some accept kids. Looking at the ancestors history of the approved customers, I’m so proud,” Baba says.
Baba says he initially planned to retire afterwards active the business for added than 30 years, but he affairs to accumulate with it now, accustomed on the spirit of a restaurant that’s now into its 44th year of connected operation.
“It’s like we are alpha a new affiliate in our history,” he says.
Kanpai Sushi owners Noriko and Koichi Baba in the Palo Alto restaurant. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)
Koma Sushi is now a allotment of Kanpai Sushi at 330 Lytton Avenue in Palo Alto. Guests can banquet at the restaurant central or out. Delivery and takeout are additionally available.
Kanpai Sushi // 330 Lytton Avenue, Palo Alto; 650.325.2696
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