Hong Zhou moved from Louisiana three years ago after visiting a cousin in Richmond. He thought the area was beautiful but didn’t see any Japanese businesses. So, he opened Ninja Japanese Cuisine.
That was last year, and the restaurant just finished celebrating its one year anniversary with two week’s worth of specials this past August.
Terry Zhou, a cousin and chef at the restaurant who was translating for Hong, said Hong opened the restaurant because he liked to eat sushi and wanted to bring fusion sushi to the Richmond area.
“I wanted to show people that sushi is not as simple as what you see on TV,” Hong said.
The sushi at Ninja Japanese Cuisine is far from simple. They still serve the standard California and Philadelphia rolls, but there’s also fancier rolls, such as the Tinker Bell, Graduation and FM 359 rolls.
The most popular roll at Ninja Japanese Cuisine is the Angry Bird, Zhou said. Cucumber and spicy tuna are rolled in rice and topped with fresh tuna, spicy ponzu garlic sauce, eel sauce and honey wasabi sauce.
They also do customer requests. Some patrons will request their favorite seafood or ingredients and let the chefs decide the rest, Zhou said.
The chefs at Ninja Japanese Cuisine can also help people new to sushi make the best choice for their first taste of sushi.
“You have to get the right thing,” Zhou said. “Otherwise you don’t want to eat (any) more sushi.”
Besides sushi and rolls, the restaurant also serves fried rice, bento boxes, noodle soups and a variety of salads and cooked appetizers. They also serve alcohol, and have a sushi bar area where patrons can watch the chefs make the rolls.
The restaurant is not large, with 10 to 12 tables, Zhou said, but it doesn’t matter. Reviews on sites such as Yelp and Foursquare praise the friendly staff and delicious food, not to mention how close it is to home for many in the Richmond area.
“When you come here, you feel like you go to Japan,” Zhou said.
Ninja Japanese Cuisine is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and is closed on Mondays.