Wasabi west owners plan Bel Aire expansion

photo-4Business has been good for Steve and Jasmine Young since they opened their Wasabi Sushi Bar West at 2404 N. Maize Road  in February. It’s been so good that they’re already talking about an expansion into Bel Aire in the next year or two.

The Youngs, who own the New Market Square Wasabi but not the downtown or east side Wasabi, have made firm plans to open another location in the planned Caban Marketplace along North Rock Road in Bel Air. That’s still a year or two away, though, says Wasabi general manager Matt Polk.

In the meantime, the restaurant is extending its half-price sushi offer that it started when it opened. Originally, the plan was to offer sushi for half price only during February, but customers responded so enthusiastically, Polk said, that the special has continued and will remain intact indefinitely.

Polk said he wanted to make clear, though, that Wichita’s various Wasabi restaurants are under different ownership and that the half-price deal is only good at the 2404 N. Maize Road location. The Youngs sold the restaurants at 912 E. Douglas and 32432 N. Rock Road before they opened out west.

Wasabi Sushi Bar West is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call the restaurant at 316-613-3318.

First rule of restaurants: They take (way) longer to open than you think

Jetty’s Pizza’s thissssss close to opening.

When a restaurateur tells me that he plans to have his restaurant open on a certain day, I always add a month or two.

I have almost never seen a restaurant open when its owner said or thought it would, and the most common reasons are construction and inspection delays. At the last minute, something doesn’t arrive or doesn’t work properly. And even if that doesn’t happen, city inspectors work at their own pace, and it always takes longer to get the green light than owners anticipate.

Take Jason Febres, who originally said he would open his new Taste & See Global Cuisine last Monday, Oct. 21. He encountered a variety of the above-mentioned problems, which were beyond his control, and he still isn’t open. The last time I got him on the phone, he said he was hoping for early next week.

Construction issues have also slowed down Ruben’s Mexican Grill, which owners Ruben and Anita Acosta started relocating from Douglas and McLean to a new spot at 915 W. Douglas back in April  The original plan was to reopen by May. About a month ago, they said they were aiming for Oct. 15. Now, Ruben says, it’ll be early November.

Wasabi west has a sign and a finished interior… but no opening date.

Jetty’s Pizza, the new arena-side restaurant being opened by businessman Mickey Lynch, is another example. He had hoped to open on Oct. 1, but now, he’s looking at the first part of November. The interior is nearly done, and Lynch has posted a billboard recruiting workers. He’s in the hiring process now and says he’ll have an update for me next week.

The most classic example of a delayed opening is Wasabi, the sushi restaurant at 912 E. Douglas. Back in 2010, owners said they’d open in January, which turned into February, March then April. The restaurant finally opened in late July of that year.

Owners have been working on a west-side Wasabi at 2402 N. Maize Road for even longer. Owners initially said it would open last December. Then, they said June. I drove by recently and the sign is up and the interior appears almost finished, but when I checked today, I was told that the opening date is now “in a month or so, but nothing is for sure.”

It happens.

I’ll keep you updated on all of the above restaurants.

Three restaurants that should open in June

Freebirds World Burrito is opening at Central and Hillside next month.

As May comes to a close, it’s time to prepare your appetite for June.

And lucky for restaurant fans, several new places will be opening up next month.

Among them:

Wasabi west, 2402 N. Maize Road: It takes time grow the perfect Wasabi. The first one, at 942 E. Douglas, was initially planned for a January of 2010 but opened in June The latest one, which is nearly finished at New Market Square near Logan’s Roadhouse, originally was to open in December of last year, but now it’s looking like early June, a manager said. There’s also a Wasabi at 3242 N. Rock Road.

Freebirds World Burrito, 410 N. Hillside: The first Freebirds World Burritos, a franchise of a chain based in Texas and California, is almost finished at Central and Hillside, a few doors down from Great Wall. It’s a Chipotle-like place that allows people to build their own burritos, tacos and more with lots of organic ingredients. The restaurant’s website now says the restaurant will open on June 20.

Twelve Restaurant & Bar, 12111 W Maple St.: The former Shorty Small’s space is getting a makeover and will soon be home to Twelve Restaurant & Bar, which will specialize in American fare such as steaks, seafood and chops. Owner Bryce Kuhn says he hopes to be open by June 23.

Where to get your Lenten fish

Newport Grill in Bradley Fair

Even though Wichita is no where near an ocean, we still have some decent fish and seafood in town. We even have several restaurant’s whose No. 1 focus is fish.

Recently, I’ve heard from several Lenten observers who are asking for alternatives to Long John Silver’s. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Long John Silver’s, home of the fabulous hushpuppy.)

Here’s a list of ideas.

FINE FISH DINING: Wichita has two finer restaurants whose focus is fish: The upscale Newport Grill at 1900 N. Rock Road and the popular chain Bonefish Grill at 10250 E. 13th St. There’s also always Red Lobster, the reliable chain that has stores at 555 S. West St. and 333 S. Towne East Mall Drive:

FAST AND FRIED: Fish fans also can choose from less fancy fish places, many of which have a loyal local following. Fast fried fish is available at In And Out Fried Chicken & Fish at  447 N. St. Francis and Wichita Fish Company, 1601 W. Douglas, and Pirate Pete’s Seafood Restaurant, 1648 S. Rock Road.

SUSHI SPOTS: Wichita’s list of great sushi places keeps growing. Among the spots to consider sampling during Lent: Kanai at 12111 W. Maple, Hana Cafe at 325 N. Mead, Sumo at 11233 E. 13th St. and Wasabi, which has locations at 912 E. Douglas Ave. and 3242 N. Rock Road.

ALSO: River City Brewing Co. at 150 N. Mosley offers some of Wichita’s most popular fish and chips. Freddy’s Frozen Custard always offers fried fish sandwiches and fish and chips during Lent. And When Pigs Fly Bar-B-Que at 7011 W. Central will offer fish specials such as lemon pepper smoked salmon and BBQ tilapia tacos on Wednesdays and Fridays through April 6. And The Seafood Shop at 6470 E. Central Avenue sells not only fish and seafood to be cooked at home but also carryout fish lunches.

Question of the week: Your favorite sushi roll?

The number of sushi restaurants in Wichita just keeps multiplying. The latest is a second location of Wasabi, which opened last week in the former Bossa Grill space at at 3242 N. Rock Road. It has essentially the same menu as its sister restaurant at 912 E. Douglas, though owners have added a few new appetizers, salads and rolls. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; noon to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.

The opening inspires the question of the week: What’s your favorite sushi roll served in Wichita? Describe the roll, and tell us who makes it. To add my two sushi cents: I love love love the Flat Land Dream served at Kanai and featuring a creamy crab center plus scallops, shrimp and cream cheese with a topping of albacore, avocado, tataki sauce, mayo and sriracha.

Let me know you favorite in the comments section below.

A fall bumper crop of new restaurants

El Agave Mexican Restaurant is just a couple of weeks away from opening at 3320 N. Rock Road.

With all that Kansas State Fair food sampling I’ve been doing, my “Comings & Goings” list got a little out of date. So over the past few days, I’ve dialed and driven and dialed and driven to gather a list of updates on restaurants scheduled to open during the next few months.

Some are delayed, but some are so close to opening, I can almost smell the new food goodness. Here’s a quick look at what I learned:

CherryBerry Self Serve Frozen Yogurt, Central and Maize: The signs are up, but the new CherryBerry yogurt shop is still several weeks from opening because of trouble with the electrical system in the building. Look for a late September/early October opening. And if you’re having trouble waiting, there are about – oh – 325 other frozen yogurt shops in town that will ease your pain.

El Agave Mexican Restaurant, 3320 N. Rock Road: The exterior is ready, and now workers are getting the interior ready for an opening, which is just two or three weeks away.The space that El Agave will occupy most recently held Top China Buffet.

The Jaded Pearl, 1716 E. Douglas: I saw Michael Carmody at Zoobilee, and he told me he and partner Angela Mallory are just a few weeks away from opening their new tea shop. He’ll have an exact date when he gets back from Winfield.

Wasabi, 3242 N. Rock Road: Owners say the second Wasabi should be open in the old Bossa Grill space by the middle of October.

Joe’s Old Town Bar and Grill,
222 N. Washington: Owner Charlie Badeen says this sister pub to Dudley’s and O’Brien’s should be ready to go at the end of October.

A.V.I.,
Broadview Hotel, (late October/early November). Ben Arnold still hopes to get his new restaurant inside the newly remodeled Broadview open by the end of October, but a problem with an elevator on order from Canada may push it back to early November, he said.

Fusa, 303 S. Greenwich: Plumbing issues have pushed the opening of this Asian restaurant, which owners are relocating from Towne East Mall, back several months. It could be late November before it’s ready.

I also have calls in about U Grill, the restaurant that’s supposed to take over the former Linkhaus space at 37th and Rock, and about the new Brazilian churrascaria/chop house Tad Fugate has planned for the Ted’s Montana Grill space at 21st and Tyler. I’ll update this post when I know more.

Dining dispatch from 29th & Rock

I drove out east today to check on Oh Yeah! China Bistro, the restaurant formerly known as Zen (and formerly known as vegetarian), and I was struck by how much restaurant activity is going on in the block of Rock between 29th and K-96.

Oh Yeah! opened at 3101 N. Rock Road with its new name and approach on May 15. The restaurant had operated as a vegetarian place for a couple of years, but the owners decided to put meat back on the menu and rename the place.

Across the street, a sign announces that El Agave will soon take over the space at 3320 N. Rock Road that most recently held Top China, a Chinese buffet place. El Agave will be a Mexican restaurant with a big tequila and margarita menu, and its owners hope to have it open later this summer.

A little further south, another sign announces that Wasabi, the sushi restaurant downtown at 912 E. Douglas, will open its east side location in the former Froz spot at 3242 N. Rock Road. Owners say it should be open in August.

And of course, right on the corner of 29th and Rock, Ben Arnold is busy working on his new breakfast-and-lunch spot in the former Chelsea’s space at 2949 N. Rock Road. He plans to open in July.

The new Noodles & Company is on that block, too, at 3300 N. Rock Road, and it’s always busy. And Amber Dunn just opened her Yogurt Xplosion yogurt shop at 3236 N. Rock Road.

That doesn’t even count the recently closed restaurants on the block, including the Bossa Grill at 3242 N. Rock Road and the Taco Tico at 3131 N. Rock Road. Wazabz Sushi Bar and Grill, which just opened in February at 3236 N. Rock Road, also is already closed.

The only restaurants on that block not hopping on merry-go-round, it appears, are Carlos O’ Kelly’s, Chipotle, Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings,  Il Ponte, Jimmy John’s, and Jimmie’s Diner.

And Hooters.

Wasabi is open — really

Wasabi head chef Eum Young, left, and his staff of sushi assemblers

Wasabi head chef Eun Young, left, and his staff of sushi assemblers, which includes his wife, second from left.

After months and months and months (and months) of anticipation, Wasabi, a new downtown sushi restaurant at 912 E. Douglas, is finally open. (And because it’s right across the street from our offices, the sushi fans I sit near are at this very moment performing an exotic sushi happy dance.)

Chef Eun Young quietly opened the surprisingly large and attractive restaurant on Monday. The giant, leather-bound menu features appetizers, soups, sushi rolls, sashimi, bento boxes and even a kids’ menu. It also has a special half-price sushi section, and Wasabi serves wine, beer and sake.

Wasabi will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-927-3524.

The wait is almost over. (Probably)

Wasabi, a sushi restaurant that has been in the works forever at 912 E. Douglas, should open this month.

Wasabi, a sushi restaurant that has been in the works forever at 912 E. Douglas, should open this month.

Back in January, I reported that Wasabi, a sushi restaurant planned by Steve Young at 912 E. Douglas, would open “after the first of the year.” That reporting was technically correct, even though it’s now SIX MONTHS after the first of the year.

I’ve been in touch with Steve every couple of weeks since January, and he keeps saying “soon, soon, soon!” He’s faced several delays, but I now believe him that Wasabi really will be open soon, as in July. I just walked across the street to peek in the windows and the place looks ready to go, complete with green booths, palm plants and a nice looking sushi bar. (As I took the above photo, two groups of people stopped me to ask, “Is that place EVER going to open?”)

Steve said he’d call me this week with a firm opening date. He’s going to serve sushi and other Japanese food daily at both lunch and dinner.