Yuzu is the Japanese word for “a citrus flavor,” a flavor that head chef Hayashi and his co-owner believe embodies the essence of Japanese food: light, refreshing, sensitive, but flavorful.
Hayashi hopes to introduce this unique taste to his diners through an approachable menu and a casual dining experience. Items such as Chicken Tatsuta-Age, an Asian spin on fried chicken bits, and the American-friendly California Roll are sure to please, but it's the chef's painstaking attention to detail and dedication in serving the freshest catch of the day that makes customers return.
Soon their orders may venture from contemporary sushi rolls to more traditionally Japanese ones such as Umeshiso, which is plum paste with shiso leaves wrapped inside dried seaweed and white rice, or Gindara, a grilled marinated black cod with saikyo miso.
The experience at Yuzu is similar to the chef's personality: avery laid-back. The restaurant's character is starkly different from the pretentious ambience that usually accompanies sushi restaurants, which surprises many after they hear of Hayashi's impressive resume.
He began in Shizuoka, Japan, with a craving to create “construct with my bare hands,” explained the chef. This led him to carpentry, but also the culinary arts. In many ways, creating a sushi roll or sashimi carried those exciting traits of being able to generate something from nothing.
While attending college in Japan, Hayashi worked at a nearby sushi restaurant for four years, scrambling up the ladder from slicing ingredients for the executive chefs to cooking in the back kitchen.
When he graduated at age 22, Hayashi's boss suggested he move to the United States for a job working in a sushi restaurant in Long Beach. He worked there for seven years, giving him the experience to move to Matsuri Restaurant in Chelsea to Shiro of Japan in Atlas Park and finally to the Michelin Star-rated Sushi Azabu in Tribeca.
During that time, he called Glendale and Flushing home before settling in Kew Gardens.
Thoughts of opening his own restaurant had always roamed through Hayashi's mind, but when he and his family made the decision of supporting their daughter's dreams professional ice-skating, an expensive endeavor, he knew now was the time.
”I'm very proud,” Hayashi said shortly after the grand opening. “I created everything by myself. Everything. And that is something I will always remember.”
Yuzu Premium Sushi is located at 350 Lenox Avenue in Manhattan.