Celebrating decade with Ahuriri’s sushi
Aozora means blue sky in Japanese, which is why Satomi and Keizo Yamaguchi named their tiny sushi shop in Ahuriri just that.
“It’s named after Hawke’s Bay’s beautiful blue skies,” Satomi says.
The Yamaguchis are celebrating 10 years in their Bridge St shop this month, offering customers a lucky dip and perhaps a win Satomi says.
“We would love to show our appreciation to the people who have supported us for so long. Everybody gets at least one of our Japanese snacks, drinks, miso soup or discount vouchers — and there is one big winner who gets a Japanese master sushi chef at home.”
With enough support, they are hoping this prize may launch a new interactive healthy food business in Hawke’s Bay. The couple is used to dreaming big and working hard. They left a life in America — Satomi a tour guide in the Rocky Mountains and Keizo an engineer — to fulfil a dream of opening a sushi shop in a foreign country — “to serve real authentic sushi for the locals”.
Keizo trained at the Three Generations sushi restaurant in Japan for 15 years, with both him and Satomi passing the Japanese government chef’s licence. He is the only sushi chef in Hawke’s Bay holding the licence, Satomi says.
Everything is made on the day by hand in store, with fresh ingredients including free-range eggs, organic vegetables and salmon shipped in overnight from Akaroa. Satomi says children often come in on their way to sports practice and a gold coin can still be exchanged for a snack.
“We accommodate our customers — it’s our pleasure. We care about them like our own family. “I suffered breast cancer soon after opening our shop — so many people helped us to raise our children. We have no relatives in New Zealand and we didn’t know anyone when we came here.” Their son is now a university student and daughter attends Napier Girls High School.
“Both are helping many international students with their bilingual skills to return their appreciation. No matter what happens and how hard life sometimes is, there is still hope and someone around you who is kind.” Satomi says many of their regular customers have become friends over the years.
“Everybody knows everybody — it’s such a small place.”
■ Aozora, 87 Bridge St, Ahuriri, phone 835 1661. Holiday opening hours, Monday December 17 to Sunday, December 23; Thursday, December, 27 to Saturday, December 29.
Aozora sushi shop owners Satomi and Keizo Yamaguchi are celebrating 10 years in their Ahuriri shop.